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Fair for Youth: how it changed me

Alex Kostyakov tells the HebWeb of his time with the Fair for Youth, becoming its Chairman and how it affected his career choices.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Last week's meeting was an evening of mixed emotions for myself, as I informally resigned as the Chair of the Fair For Youth Committee, and in essence my role as the event manager.

I want to take just a little bit of your time, to tell you my story and to urge you to get involved in this local event, ensuring its continuation and offering all local young people the opportunities that it presented to me.


I first got involved with Fair for Youth when a friend asked me to DJ, and when Sammy Holland, dragged me and another friend into the Step2 office to fill out some grant application forms. Little did I know that this moment would shape my career path, what university I went to, and what I would end up studying.

For people that don't know how the event came into existence, it can be mainly attributed to two things: The growing desire for a skate park, and mounting tensions between different generations within the local area. A small group of young people met (Not me at this point!) and decided this is how they would make a positive impact in the local community, with the vital guidance of Lesley Jones.

Although I was involved in both the first and second years of the event, I gained much more responsibility when I asked if I could run the DJ tent. Although I didn't do the best of jobs, I truly got caught up in the 'Fair for Youth Fever'.

With the Skate Park having been built and an upgrade well under way, organisation man power dwindled in the run up to the 4th year and a group of four of us met at what is now the beautifully refurbished Park-Life café. Myself, Roisin Sheriden, Saph Wright and Sammy Holland to be precise.

Fair for Youth

Sammy posed the question to us that if we didn't take the event on and have a go and manage it, then it felt like the event had probably run its course. I nervously accepted the role of taking on this event, but I remember secretly thinking that this would be amazing!

A few meetings in and Roisin had gathered a big crowd of young people, I had invented games to keep the meetings fun and everything was fantastic! There was a real buzz about seeing the young people really get stuck in. The event was a great success, only spoiled by group of silly adults near to the end, and I discovered my love for putting on events.

I promptly applied to University to study Events Management. A decision I have never looked back on with regret thus far. This year was a little more stressful, balancing; living in Manchester, studying and coming back to run meetings. Due to this, the meetings were a little more rushed and dull but I felt I could see a strong core of young people that would be able to carry this event on.

Personally, for me, the event of 2015 was the best yet, and I feel that this is a view shared by the majority of the organisers. We (Young people) really had delivered an event for the wider community to enjoy. I remember our two super adults were stressed because they didn't know what was going on because we were organising it all!

Fair for Youth helped me get into my chosen course, being able to write about all the exciting things we do, how we felt we were making a real difference in the community on my personal statement. Since then it has helped me get into several jobs that link with my course and gives me great material to talk about during interviews.

A few years ago I had to get my friends to ring takeaways and taxis because I was too shy. By my final year involved with the Fair for Youth, I could ring anyone and ask them anything. I've made some great friends, had some real laughs, and really gained a lot from my time. For the first year, all I did was pick litter and now this!

To give an example of just how valuable it can be, we are currently going through the process of giving all our volunteers, free first aid training so that future events are safer, and they learn a new skill.

Last week's meeting was an evening of mixed emotions for myself, as I informally resigned as the Chair of the Fair For Youth Committee.

On one hand it's hard to let go of something that has had such an impact on one's life. On the other hand, hearing one of the successors to my role talk so passionately about the event made me remember how fired up and excited I was to take over, and that in fact I have now lost this fire to other areas of life. But this is a young people's event, and young people grow up, go to college, go to University, move house! So a constant supply of new young people is always needed.

To conclude, getting involved with Fair for Youth did nothing short of shape my life so far. Can you imagine if I hadn't ever turned up to a meeting. It's unfair that there are young people that could get this experience but don't because they simply don't know about it. I urge you to tell anyone young or old to get behind this local event and make sure it's around for generations to come.

Alex Kostyakov


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