Looking back at the Routes2Roots campaign

Looking back at the Routes2Roots campaign

Anisa Haghdadi speaks at the final Routes2Roots event
Anisa Haghdadi speaks at the final Routes2Roots event
Anisa Haghdadi recalls the journey of the Routes2Roots campaign and how it has had a positive impact on the lives of young people in Birmingham.

Routes2Roots was a multimedia campaign created and supported by HLF in partnership with Beatfreeks, a youth engagement agency based in Birmingham, to support young people to explore their heritage and create exciting events in Birmingham.

Planting a seed

The journey of Routes2Roots started 18 months ago when we seeded the idea of an authentically youth-led campaign. We hoped Routes2Roots would have a transformative effect on how young people saw, related to and actively engaged with heritage across Birmingham. Fast forward to now and that seed we planted has flowered many incredible ideas, projects, memories and friendships.

Birmingham is a young and diverse city which has so many stories to tell and so many storytellers. I think it’s our job as citizens to provide inspiration for young people to find their voice and explore their past. Working together with HLF in the West Midlands, we launched the multi-media campaign running from May 2015 to September 2016 to encourage and support more young people and youth groups to explore projects and ideas which are inspired by their heritage.

Uncovering heritage along the way

There have been many highlights of this campaign; from climbing aboard the Big Brum Buz for Routes2Roots On the Road and discovering existing heritage projects dotted all over the city, to the funding of exciting new projects such as City of Colours and Birmingham’s lost communities. The co-creators, ambassadors and everyone involved in coordinating and promoting these inclusive, wonderful heritage events have helped uncover cultural traditions, musical heritage and people’s memories and stories of forgotten buildings and objects in Birmingham.

[quote]"Routes2Roots has been a wonderful campaign with many things learnt and discovered about ourselves, our organisations and our young people."[/quote]

Routes2Roots has been a wonderful campaign with many things learnt and discovered about ourselves, our organisations and our young people. The most striking thing it has shown me is the incredible power of handing over to young people – asking them what they want and giving them the permission and support to act.

This empowerment and belief in young people’s abilities and ideas was integral to the campaign and especially in the roles of our young co-creators. Their tenacity and professionalism coupled with their energy and willingness to ‘think big’ has been the driving force behind the campaign – and they were simply inspirational.

The finale

We rounded off the campaign this month with a celebratory finale at the Edge in Digbeth, home of Friction Arts, where heritage groups in and around Birmingham came together to recognise their successes over the last two years. Many groups went home with awards after a night of live music, poetry, and speeches hosted under a beautiful Moroccan tent.

I think everyone who chose to get involved in Routes2Roots did so because they share the same unshakeable belief that the future should not only be decided by a few, so neither should the past. And without HLF’s belief and trust in our approach and team (and some of our crazy ideas!), Routes2Roots wouldn’t have been the success it is today.

I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved and looking to the future there’s excitement for what’s to come in terms of new opportunities for young people but also by the conversations, relationships and actions that Routes2Roots has hopefully inspired all us to be a part of.

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