The success of any project, especially an innovation European project like this one, depends on having not only a great set of partners but also on them having deep connections into local communities. It is not only important to enable the projects succeed but also for ensuring there is lasting impact that delivers a sustainable and inclusive step change in and with communities. These grassroots connections, made over a cuppa in local communities,are just as, if not more important than digital and social media networks when it comes to finding and engage with young people and youth workers with hidden skills and potential. And it was over a cup of team that Express CIC connected with the team from the Momentum World and shared their vision to create an inclusive and accessible cafe, autism support hub and new opportunities for young people with autism in Tolworth, on the outskirts of Kingston-upon-Thames.
Express CIC are a parent led organisation which is working closely with its local community to ensure that families and individuals with unique opportunity for youth workers and young people in Kingston to express themselves and their town in new ways. The team at Express CIC felt that the Virtual Youth Town project was something that would interest the youth workers and young people they work with – many of whom were experts in playing Minecraft for fun and so could bring valuable skills, ideas and insights. Thanks to the team Express CIC, Momentum Worlds UK based virtual youth town team were able to use Express CICs offices (and tea!) for project meetings. Express CIC’s support for the virtual youth town project has added enormous value by helping increase the diversity of youth workers and young people in the project and by ensuring everyone participating has had the opportunity to become more autism aware and inclusive by sharing knowledge, skills and lived experience. So it just goes to show how much the virtual youth town project has gained from making time for tea and to talk in local communities as well as connecting online!