Greater Manchester is a vast, vibrant city-region, bursting with opportunity. As young people, we have all these opportunities for the future on our doorstep yet we are unable to reach them. We are unable to grasp and take hold of what we can see so close to us. The reason why we, as young people, are limited to what we can do and achieve is because we are fundamentally unable to travel to these opportunities.
Over the past few years, Greater Manchester has seen prices increase across its bus and tram network, and unfortunately, this means that it is becoming increasingly unlikely that a young person will be able to afford these tickets and therefore can’t travel. This shuts the door on what could be life-changing experiences. Additionally, the cost of transport is rising greater than minimum wage, which is the standard pay rate for young people. This means that we are having to work more hours, on top of school or college, just to be able to afford to travel to the same places our older siblings were able to travel to. This isn’t acceptable. The Mayor of Greater Manchester’s initiative, Our Pass, helps to overcome these barriers by offering 16-18 year olds free bus travel, as well as free and discounted tickets to a range of sporting, cultural and leisure opportunities so we can fully experience what Greater Manchester has to offer and make the most out of our city-region. Young people will now be able to raise their aspirations and reach for things which would otherwise remain just a dream.
The pass itself has been on a journey to reach the point where it is today, including its creation and development from a simple idea to becoming a physical pass which, come September, can be used across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester. The Our Pass journey began during Andy Burnham’s campaign to become Mayor of Greater Manchester. He was extremely passionate about ensuring young people had their say as to what they wanted the first Mayor of Greater Manchester to do for them. Having spoken to various youth groups and young people from across the city-region, he identified that one of the largest problems for young people was the cost of transport. Working closely with Andy and his team, young people identified that the solution to this problem is a unique card which allows young people free travel, as well as access to the wealth of opportunities that Greater Manchester has to offer. This was the start of the ‘opportunity pass’ which later, with the help of young people, developed into our very own Our Pass.
The Youth Combined Authority were given the chance to really get involved in the development of Our Pass. In February, Andy came to our meeting and set out his vision for the pass, and what he would like it to mean to the young people of Greater Manchester. At the meeting, we were introduced to a number of marketing professionals who spoke to us about what makes a strong name and brand. From this meeting we put forward a long list of names which were checked by lawyers; unfortunately, some of our names were already trademarked or too similar to existing local organisations so were taken out. We needed something unique. We needed something that was ours.
The remaining names and logo designs were shared with youth groups across Greater Manchester –over the space of a few weeks over 400 young people had their say. There were two names that stood out amongst the others, and these were presented back to the Youth Combined Authority in our March meeting, where we discussed which of the two it was to be. We voted as a group and this was the start of Our Pass!
Naming and designing Our Pass is not the only involvement the Youth Combined Authority has had. We have spoken at events alongside the Mayor to encourage cultural, leisure and sporting organisations and businesses to get involved by providing free and discounted tickets and other opportunities for Our Pass. These events were amazing as everyone was so passionate about helping to make Our Pass the best it can be. Also, the fact that Andy encouraged us to speak at these events really gave us an opportunity to have a voice and be accounted for. From the very start of this project, we have felt listened to and our ideas and opinions have really been valued by various representatives, professionals and leaders.
We really feel we have played a huge role in shaping Our Pass and we can’t wait to start using it from September!
Applications for Our Pass are now open at www.ourpass.co.uk