Potential and Passion on the Menu at Youth Cafes
As we mark the United Nations International Youth Day on 12 August 2014, the Western Cape Government is proud to be playing a leading role in the empowerment and advancement of young people between 14-25 years living in the province.
The 2011 census revealed that there are almost 3.6 million young people between 0 and 34 years in the Western Cape. Of this figure, about 1.1 million are young people between 14-25 years. These are the young people our Provincial Youth Development Strategy aims to empower.
The comprehensive and detailed Youth Development Strategy (YDS) outlines the "whole of society" approach needed to equip young people of the Western Cape with the skills and tools they can use to improve their lives and become productive, responsible members of society. It guides all our programmes that target young people. More importantly, it ensures that the programmes we fund via Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and those that we deliver through our own services have clear developmental outcomes they must meet.
The youth cafés form part of the Western Cape Department of Social Development's plan to address youth unemployment by connecting young people to developmental and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The youth strategy has identified the following key factors that must be built into the development of the youth cafés:
- The youth cafés must learn the key lessons from previous and similar attempts to develop youth SOS–oriented facilities. The department needs to understand why they failed. Examples of these include: municipal multi-purpose youth centres, Thusong Centres, the Youth Portal and Youth Hubs, to name a few.
- The youth cafés must be a vibrant, dynamic environment that young people want to be at and associated with. A key factor in relation to this is having an understanding of what young people themselves expect and want from a youth café.
- It must be a "one-stop shop" that provides a range of services, opportunities and support to young people – underpinned by programmatic coherence, organisational competence and excellence. It must not simply reincarnate the previous or existing "one-stop shops" for young people who do not work.
- Providing a safe, nurturing, creative environment that encourages youth innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
- The youth cafés should not be conceptualised in spatial/physical terms only (in other words, a "place" where young people can go, but should also be understood as a virtual space that makes extensive use of social media applications and technologies, and as a mobile space that goes to where young people are.
To date, there are two youth cafés that have been launched. The first café was opened by Minister Albert Fritz in Mitchell’s Plain on 21 January 2014 at Rocklands Mall, corner of Park Avenue and Caravelle Street, Rocklands. The second café was opened in Athlone at Vangate Shopping Mall, corner of Vanguard Drive and Klipfontein Road on 11 July 2014.
Over 946 young people have registered at the cafés to access its skills development services and support, to which an average of 100 young people visit the youth cafés daily.
The cafés are creating opportunities and empowering young people who are accessing the space, and to date have seen:
- The development of 380 training programmes and workshops, with a combined attendance of 7 348 people.
- 401 young people accessed jobs, internships or become entrepreneurs.
At the launch of the first café, Minister Fritz stressed the notion that these youth cafés must not be identified as a locus for youth at risk only, or places where "young people with problems" go to for help. On the contrary – the youth cafés must embed the idea that "it’s cool to do good (for others, for community and for yourself)".
Minister Fritz said the Youth Café was a space that was designed to give young people "access to opportunities, while at the same time unleashing their potential, channelling their energy and mentoring them in a way that they can identify with and in a language that the youth speak".
Under the guidance and mentorship of the R-Labs leadership, youths in these facilities have the chance to tap into a world of technology, innovation and ground-breaking thinking. This space will play the pivotal role of providing a socially inclusive and enabling environment.
The youth cafés will also be some of the first cashless cafés where you can only purchase goods and services using your virtual currency, Zlato, that have to be earned by doing good in your community, attending personal development workshops, etc. By actively participating in the various activities, youths will earn and accumulate Zlato, and this will be used to access things like the internet, the coffee station, training courses, seminars, etc.
To expand access, the department is currently in discussion with various private sector partners to extend the use of Zlato to services such a public transport.
The department will be rolling out the Atlantis, George and Nyanga Junction cafés during the course of this financial year. The Nyanga Junction Youth Café will include a sport component linked to a Mass participation; Opportunity and access; Development and growth (MOD) Centre, and will be fully accessible to people with physical disabilities.
As we commemorate International Youth Day, we will continue to create to work with our partners in the private sector and NGOs to create a space for young people to access opportunities and use their talents. However young people need to play their part too, and access the youth cafés to empower themselves. This is what we mean by youth development being best achieved “Better Together”.
See this YouTube video of the preparations and build-up to the opening of the first youth café in Mitchell’s Plain:
Spokesperson for Minister Albert Fritz
Tel: 021 483 9217
Cell: 076 083 6543