In a significant move for community engagement and youth empowerment, Birmingham City Football Club’s teenage sensation, Layla Banaras, has been named the youth ambassador for Birmingham Housing Week. The event, which runs from February 5th to 9th, aims to enlighten young people and the broader community about the extensive public and private investments in housing and urban regeneration efforts throughout Birmingham.
At just 17, Banaras, who made history as the first woman of South Asian descent to join the Birmingham City Football Club, is now at the forefront of inspiring her peers to partake in discussions about the future of housing in the city. Her role as youth ambassador during the Next Generation workshops is a testament to her dedication to making a difference beyond the football field.
“I think it’s really important to create opportunities for young people as it gives them a voice and allows them to feel heard,” Banaras stated, expressing her enthusiasm for her new role. The workshops, sponsored by Platform, STEAMhouse, and Howells, aim to gather students from local schools such as Eden Boys, Lyndon Academy, Cockshut Hill, and Nine Styles, facilitating a platform for open dialogue and exploration of career paths within the housing sector.
The initiative is supported by a coalition of partners, including Lovell Partnerships, Birmingham City Council, STEAMhouse, Howells, Platform Housing Group, Shakespeare Martineau, Marrons, and Birmingham Social Housing Partnership, underscoring a broad-based commitment to inclusive urban development and youth participation.
Patrick Bek from STEAMhouse emphasised the importance of a people-centered approach to housing innovation, “Listening to and co-creating with the younger generation is a great way to encourage a more collaborative approach and unlock a new regenerative era of the city.” Meanwhile, Howells is set to engage Year 10 & 11 students in discussions about the ‘Our Future City’ project, aiming to incorporate their insights into a visionary 2040 framework for Birmingham.
This effort reflects a larger vision to make housing and urban planning more inclusive, sustainable, and equitable, highlighting the critical role of the younger generation in shaping the future of Birmingham. As the city looks forward to a week of insightful discussions, interactive workshops, and collaborative planning, Banaras’ role as a bridge between the worlds of sports and civic engagement illustrates the powerful impact of youth voices in driving social change and innovation.