The winners of a schools writing competition have been unveiled.

The competition was organised by Lichfield Live and open to young people from across Lichfield and Burntwood and challenged them to give their views on set topics.

Kat Horner with Finlay Barton and Grace Williams
Kat Horner with Finlay Barton and Grace Williams

The winning entry came from The Friary School Year 13 student Grace Williams – and it was double success for the school who also saw Finlay Barton finish second.

The third place entry came from King Edward VI School’s Tabitha Teague.

Their entries are below:

Grace Williams – Do you see social media as a force for good in learning more about your local area or are there other ways to gather information locally?

In a world that is social media orientated nowadays, it only seems fit to use it to our advantage as a way to share information on the community and current events, etc.

Perhaps my family stand alone on the matter but other forms of gathering information such as leaflets through the door find themselves in the bin without even a glance at the information it could provide us with. Social media can present people with the same information seen on the leaflet, but we get to feel as if it is our own choice to take an interest in it.

You could call me biased since I have grown up in a world where 80% of information given to me – whether that be in school or by my own accord – has come from the internet or social media, however why should that be perceived as something negative? 

When used correctly, social media is perfect for promoting events taking place in the local area, or to share a message; people have the opportunity to like and share with friends which allows the information to reach many people. Of course, if people see posters around Lichfield and are interested, they still might mention it to a friend or two, but social media allows us to do this in a matter of seconds, whilst reaching between 20-100 extra people.

As well as sharing, members of the community can give their opinions on certain matters, by commenting on the post as they share it. Sometimes, seeing someone else’s opinion on a piece of information can help you to form your own, which creates more interest in a subject.

It would be naïve of me to think, however, that all comments upon posts relating to information of the community would be positive; this is one of the downfalls we face with social media. There will always be someone who will have a negative opinion to share on social media, but it shouldn’t encourage us to shy away from using it; there are ways negative comments can be dealt with which allow us to carry on promoting information within the community.

After some independent research, I found that the Lichfield District Council already has some social media pages set up, as well as other support groups set up by members of the community. Whilst I think it’s great to see social media being put to good use within Lichfield, as a young person I noticed that the sites on which these pages were found were prominently used by adults. If we want to get young people more involved in the community, we should be using social media in the way they do.

As a young person myself, Facebook is a site I use to see what my Nan is up to and make sure my mum hasn’t posted any embarrassing pictures of me. It is Instagram and Snapchat which I use to communicate with friends but also take interest in certain groups and learn about the world around me. I’m sure many young people would take much more of an interest in the local community if the information was presented to them in a way that interests them but also through a social media site they actually use. As avid social media users, the community could perhaps include us through having us help with the promotion of information on social media or setting up accounts on sites that will reach this demographic.

So yes, I see social media as a force for good in learning more about my local community, and I believe there are still ways in which it can be used to reach more members of the community and create interest.

Grace Williams

Finlay Barton – How do you view local facilities specifically aimed at teenagers and young people in your local area and do you feel you have a voice?

Teenagers in Lichfield are limited in choice; there are few desirable facilities that are aimed specifically at the requirements of teenagers. The local facilities in Lichfield are perceived to be aimed more towards the younger generation with a vast number of playgrounds and kids’ parks, but there are little to no facilities for teenagers to use in Lichfield. A cinema was once was rumoured to occur but has been a distant idea for many years but is now set to return to the city as approved by the Lichfield district Council in October 2022. 

However, despite the limitations in Lichfield there is a multi-use games area containing a half pipe, football goals, basketball nets and a set of outdoor exercise equipment. This facility appeals to teenagers, allowing them to have fun with their friends, allowing them to play the sports that they enjoy and providing the option to casually play between sports while supporting their mental health releasing serotonin through physical activities.  

This facility allows teenagers to gather and make new friends and build positive relationships with adults, widening the social skills they uphold. This has a positive influence on teenagers building self-esteem and self-worth within society, taking away from the stress and reality of the strenuous years faced in teenage years. 

Lichfield also provides a Skatepark facility which is a good place for teenagers to meet up from across different schools and backgrounds with the same hobbies and interests increasing the social lives of teenagers. Especially after Covid, the skatepark offers a chance to be outdoors and active improving the mental health and wellbeing of teenagers while having fun. As teenagers, we are bombarded with pressure and new responsibilities; the skatepark allows us to relive a sense of childlike memories and fun away from stress, improving our happiness.  

Despite the positive effects these few facilities have, we as teenagers have never been offered an opinion or real say in the decisions of the facilities being built in the area. These facilities only provide for a limited number of people, not tailoring to the whole population of youth in Lichfield. There is no visible line of communication between teenagers and decision making of what we are deemed to want based on expectations and stereotypes. There should be a constant conversation with schools and teenagers conserning what we want and what we would like in Lichfield, especially as those making these decisions are not in fact teenagers or have experienced teenage life in this day and age and the decision is made by adults in isolation at board meetings. 

I feel as though teenagers do not receive a voice in society and are told what we do and do not want such as youth clubs, which are associated with a negative stigma and are run by adults still controlling what is going on and monitoring the events that take place just like in school where in actual fact teenagers need an escape from the schooling environment not an alternative institution of the same purpose. These facilities are still not leaving the decision down to teenagers to make that choice; therefore despite being specifically aimed at teenagers they do not meet their needs and requirements.  

Overall, there are not enough facilities within the Lichfield area for teenagers to feel the urge to go and spend time in these areas to be able to cool down and relax from their stresses and workload from the school environment. The facilities that are in Lichfield do not fully cater for and meet the requirements of teenagers due to being designed and built soley by adults; therefore, Lichfield is in desperate need for more specifically aimed facilities chosen and voted on by teenagers for us to have a voice in the society we live in and feel as though we are entitled to a voice within it.

Finlay Barton
Tabitha Teague and Kat Horner
Tabitha Teague and Kat Horner

Tabitha Teague – The future of Lichfield

Lichfield is famous for its copious history, housing the only three spired medieval cathedral in England, a market dating back to 1153 and being the birthplace of Samuel Johnson who famously compiled a dictionary of the English language. The historic character of the city dominates our tourism industry and drives people to our city; however, the question young locals are asking is, what does the future hold for Lichfield? 

It’s a question asked by all, in fact its only natural to enquire about our future jobs, our future houses, our future city yet it’s a question that has no objective answer. 

The future of Lichfield relies on both young and older generations to work collaboratively at a time when England’s towns are only getting older and young people are leaving for bigger more developed cities, where aspirations are achievable. We want to see Lichfield as a city where our dreams and ambition can be nurtured and thrive, but what does that entail and who will help us achieve this?

Currently 19.8% of those living in Lichfield city are under 18. This young population has a yearning for more opportunities and a desire to see where we grew up grow with us and adapt to changing times within society. Lichfield has seen a 5.7% increase in population, according to the 2021 census, suggesting that Lichfield is an ever-growing city which is on tracks to become a higher regarded city in the UK and attract more young professionals to tackle our aging population and obtain some more locally owned independent businesses to help freshen up our high-street. As our economy grows it can initiate a chain reaction due to residents contributing more disposable income into local businesses and so paying more taxes, providing Lichfield council with more flexibility to install Lichfield with the essential services and infrastructure that can help improve our city.  The perfect excuse to splash out on a fancy meal at upstairs or grab that new pair of shoes from our local boutiques. Its helping!

Lichfield’s future is looking bright with a Michelin star restaurant, art festivals, and packed theatre shows at the Garrick -including our classic Christmas panto- all on the itinerary, enticing a whole new crowd to Lichfield. These festivities not only attract a rife tourism industry but also provide our very own with a vast amount exciting opportunities where future singers, chefs, actors, investors, artists, and business owners (I would continue but this article would quickly become a careers brochure!) all have a place in Lichfield. These festive and unique events being at the heart of our community and create a sense of unity and belonging in Lichfield like no other.

Lichfield’s nightlife is also not one to be dismissed with locals giving it the nickname ‘Lichvegas’ showing the duplicitous nature of Lichfield by night and providing young adults with their own sense of community and fun. This tackles the stereotype that Lichfield is moving towards becoming a retirement city and instead displaying its unique ability to cater for everyone. 

Individually we all play a role in Lichfield’s future, from every vote we cast to every pound spent in local businesses, what we do matters. Some may believe it is their calling to create significant change and be the voice of our community needs, whether this entails becoming the next MP, a member of the council, or a social activist some are destined to create the change they want to see. 

However, it is equally it’s important to note not everyone- myself included- feels that they will play a role in the longevity of Lichfield and that’s ok. This is due to a multitude of reasons, for instance the scale of the problems we face seeming insurmountable or a desire to go to bigger places on such a scale that Lichfield could not reasonably reach in our lifetime. The pull to cities like London and Manchester is irresistible for many and the curiosity for the new glamourous city life overrides our desire to stay put (for now). 

So, the question remains what is the future of Lichfield?

The future is currently sat in maths class. 
The future has just got their first apprenticeship.
The future has just started secondary school. 
The future is us.

Tabitha Teague