Kwame Boateng is the founder of Thinking about Brexit (TAB), a think tank specifically targeted at including, empowering and developing the skills of young people. TAB started in October 2017 and received project funding and support from O2 and Go Think Big in March 2018.
After finishing his undergrad in linguistics, Kwame completed a masters in Human Rights at LSE. He embodies creative time management: he runs a poetry and discussion event every month with Streets Kitchen and he also does film making, AND runs a small TV production company. Kwame ran TAB alongside doing his Masters, and working part-time with an organisation called Elevate Education.
The idea behind TAB is to challenge the narrative around Brexit. Kwame noticed that some people who were positive about the future of Brexit, had formed unrealistic conclusions, however, on the flipside, he came across pragmatic opinions that propagated a negative outlook.
In that mainstream narrative, it occurred to Kwame that young people’s voices weren’t being heard. This ignited Kwame’s passion to form a positive and realistic vision for young people regarding post-Brexit Britain. You can watch the introduction video here.
He put together a team of seven students aged 18-23 and outlined seven key areas. Each person took ownership over one key area. They filmed Think Tank discussions and in the process of listening and voicing opinions, each participant was able to build relationships with each other. Everyone had different perspectives and came from varied backgrounds. At the end of seven months, they produced a report, taking into consideration all the recommendations made by the group, summarising the report with a long-term vision.
Kwame thought a lot about the framework – which went through a lot of iterations. He wanted to find a unique way to brand it. A lot of inspiration came from the show Backchat, as he decided to use a popular format to popularise issues that aren’t spoken about.
The first phase, entitled, Beyond London, looked at the idea that, in order to have a successful Britain, we need to come away from London-centricity and look at what the whole country has to offer. This entails looking at each region as a specific industry hub.
The second phase revolves around the longevity of the project and to give it more life going forward. This would mean forming bases around the country and having regional Think Tanks under the ‘Thinking About’ brand.
Kwame found support from Go Think Big extremely useful – “Go Think Big, gave me a chance to give it that longevity. I would have found it harder to think of it beyond Brexit without having use of the Go Think Big Hub, paying for travel, helping people to buy into the idea. That credibility helped to run the think tank, made people want to be part of it a lot more.”
An unprecedented benefit of the Think Tank was the growth and development of the participants. “One of the participants Tosin Murana got a training contract at a Law firm where she is training to become a solicitor. Something that she mentioned at her interview was the Think Tank, as it struck a really positive chord and created a lot of conversation and made her stand out.”
In the long run, Kwame eventually wants to turn the Think Tank into an employability programme. Read on to find out why, as well as contributing to effectively altering perceptions of the future of our country, being a part of a Think Tank can increase your employability skills!
1. You become a communication GENIUS
After all, communication is one of the most important skills you will ever need. A Think Tank requires you to speak to people, understand an issue and be able to present it. Kwame also adds that “because we filmed our sessions, people were aware the audience was a lot larger, therefore the need to be clear and state your point of view was more important than ever.”
2. You learn the importance of thorough research
You can’t state an ill-informed opinion based on one meme you saw a year ago. In a Think Tank, especially one that is filmed, the credibility of what you say will inevitably be scrutinised. SO, a mixture of desk and field research – from all angles, from a variety of sources, put into context – becomes vital.
3. Collaboration becomes second nature
In a Think Tank, you have the nuanced task of putting your opinion across, ensuring it is heard and listened to, whilst also connecting your idea’s with the rest of your group. As the Think Tank contained people who had very different viewpoints, Kwame says he wanted the group to “step outside of their comfort zone, think as a group, rather than just an individual, and reach one vision they can all get behind.”
4. You’re solving the world’s problems
As Kwame puts it, “a Think Tank is basically just a long period of problem solving”. You have to be able to find that middle ground and a solution to a complex problem. He explains that “some people had very strong opposing views about economic viability and social issues but it’s about assessing your own biases and being in constant dialogue with each other.”
5. You can use digital tools creatively
By simply choosing to film each session and share it on social media, the team were able to not only expand their audience, but also increase people’s use of technology. They were also able to pinpoint how technology can create social change. Sharing sessions like this also highlighted how young people are giving themselves a seat at the table and celebrating the involvement of young people in political and societal discourse.
6. You become a leader in your own right
Leadership was a key part of the framework from the very beginning. Kwame wanted each participant to take pride in taking a lead “by making people take ownership of specific parts, it made the team feel like they could drive a part of it forward.”
7. You get a headstart in using your own initiative
Initiative is probably the most difficult thing to learn before you get your first job, but Kwame explains that because TAB was “voluntary, you’re motivated to do something extra”. This, in turn, helps people manage their time whilst also keeping up to date with topical issues. What TAB really managed to encourage and inspire in their participants is that mindset of “I can always do a little bit more”.
If you’d like to keep up with up to date news about TAB:
Follow @KwameBoateng_ and @TABrexit