A picture of Ebony

Ebony Taylorson, Youth Panel

Despite having a 17-month old toddler and juggling working from home, 26-year-old Ebony Taylorson has also joined our Youth Housing Panel. Here she tells us more about why signing up was important to her.

“Having a little girl has really changed my outlook on life. I think a lot about what the planet will be like when she is grown up – what will be left for her, how she will live. And that’s made me feel like I need to get more involved now on her behalf.

“We live in a seaside town. In the summer it’s bustling and lively but in the winter it feels very forgotten and abandoned. I want to know what I can do about that, and joining this panel seemed like a good first step to getting my voice heard.

“I think about when I was growing up – the sense of community I felt – and I want that for my baby. I think the internet and social media means we’ve lost some of that real-life interaction. In our block of flats there’s a noticeboard with posters telling me about groups and reminding me about safety checks, that kind of thing. I like the ‘real world’ nature of it – I don’t have to go and look for the information – someone is taking the time to involve me – to invite me to come along.

“My aim with joining the housing panel is to do this for my neighbourhood. It’s early days – I’m still learning how I might go about linking up with existing groups or applying for funding, but I have a vision of an event or a group where anyone can feel comfortable coming along. For example, my sister has autism and my mum looks after her. It’s been a long year with covid for both of them. I think we have an opportunity as we come out of lockdown to really build a sense of community again.

“My passion is gardening and green spaces. Teaching people how to plant – how to grow things – how to appreciate their natural environment is something I’d like to know more about – and then share that knowledge with future generations. I’m working with Sovereign to tap into the groups they already have, to try and bring that to my area.

“A lot of people my age already feel weighed down. They might be in debt from studying or from over-spending – the expectations and pressures on what people want and what they can afford are very real. But I’ve personally already benefited from Sovereign listening to me when I told them I was on furlough and needed to manage my rent payments differently.

“I think that housing associations have a real opportunity to spread something positive. Sovereign offers so many different services that I wasn’t even aware of, from debt advice, to tenancy training for young people trying to get into their first place. I’m excited that expressing my views is making me part of that.”