The Matter is a newspaper run, produced and published entirely by young people. Each edition is their public response to a question asked by the government or a business. 

With record numbers of 16–24 year olds not in education, employment or training, there is a pressing need to improve how young people secure the opportunities they deserve. Seeing the potential for design and digital technology to make a difference, the Design Council and Nominet Trust launched the Working Well Design Challenge in July 2012.

The Design Challenge brought together leading designers, developers and social entrepreneurs to create new ways of using digital technologies to help young people develop their talents and make a living.

The Matter, one of three ventures supported through the Working Well Challenge, is a collaboration between Snook, a social innovative service design agency, and Young Scot, the national youth information and citizenship charity for Scotland.

The problem

Many young people lack the confidence and key skills (like teamwork and time management) needed to get a job. At the same time, government and businesses aren't good at finding out what young people think and so often ignore them when making decisions that affect them. The Matter is about solving these two problems in one go.

The solution

A selected team of young people meet with a facilitator four times over eight weeks to find out how to research, generate ideas, design and produce a newspaper. They then work with their client, a designer and a copywriter to make sure the finished product looks and feels professional and, most importantly, that the client sees the value in it. At the end of the process they present the paper and findings to the client and other interested parties. Then everything goes online.

The first pilot of The Matter, in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council, asked the question: ‘How can young people's voices be heard successfully in the Forth Neighbourhood community planning process?’ 

The results

Those who participate not only gain confidence and skills, but have an actual newspaper that can be sent off with a CV or taken to an interview. It is both rewarding for them and impressive to employers. 

The newspaper took them from ‘I will be on benefits for the rest of my life’ to seeing a better future and getting stuff done.

Tim Packer, Edinburgh Council

The Matter helps young people realise they can make anything happen, providing them the confidence to stand up for what they want and believe in. The finished product gives them a voice that lets government and businesses find out what they think. 

The project teaches skills that are essential to employers by getting young people to form teams, undertake research, work to deadlines and pitch what they've produced. For the clients, it is an innovative and effective way of engaging with young people.

Since the launch of The Matter in January 2013, another edition was created with Stirling Council.

In 2014, The Matter was commissioned to work with NHS Greater Glasgow on two separate projects – looking at alcohol awareness and sexual health and relationships. 

Follow @thisisthematter on Twitter

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