You’ll learn:

  • About the Youth Board’s remit
  • How the Youth Board is helping The Common Room to inspire young people to consider what impact they could have through invention, innovation or campaigning
  • How this two-way transfer of information and experience is empowering future leaders and helping organisations flourish

Representing Young People

The Common Room’s mission is centred around the next generation, so it’s incredibly important to ensure young people’s perspectives are fully represented in everything it does.

This is where we come in, enter the Youth Board…a hive mind of under 30s working across a range of sectors, committed to championing our North East and its role in shaping our world today.

We’ve all been selected based on our unique skillset and passion to connect with young people, to inspire curious minds and to ensure the programme of activity is both relevant and engaging to its intended audience.

The North East has a track record for innovation which continues today through business, research and education. The Youth Board serves as the next link in the chain of North East innovators, inspired by our historical reputation for invention and innovation.

In our own personal careers, we are innovating daily, from launching new businesses to leading on engineering and software developments. Through telling our own stories, and championing our region’s pioneering past and future, we are able to encourage future generations to be ambitious and alive to the opportunities that are available to them in the STEM sphere.

Shaping The Common Room

 “The Youth Board has been a fantastic opportunity to sup- port young people in the region. One of my favourite events was Crank it up at Beamish, an engineering project created to get young people involved in our industrial heritage. The theme was cranes and each team had to make a mini wooden hydraulic crane sets using Meccano pit head kits. The kids loved getting stuck in and learning all about our region’s history.”

Jane Hibbert, BIM Team Manager at NBS and Youth Board Member

In order to understand the wider context of the programme, we visited Redhills: Durham Miners Hall and Caterpillar Articulated Trucks, Peterlee to learn about the uniqueness of the region’s industrial landscape and its evolution since the industrial revolution. We also looked at the impact of climate change on our region and the role that current engineering and innovation can play in leading the way in low carbon solutions.

Since 2019, we’ve been involved with shaping a series of learning activities to engage young people, bringing our own cross-sector expertise to influence the content of the programme of activity. From delivering workshops with schools at Beamish, the Living Museum of the North, to supporting with events and exhibitions, the Youth Board has been key in reinforcing The Common Room’s mission.

It has been a brilliant opportunity to be involved from such an instrumental stage of The Common Room’s rebirth, to aid in influencing key decisions and developing the building itself.

We’ve also been hands on in supporting The Common Room in embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in its programme to inspire young people to consider what impact they could have through invention, innovation or campaigning.

Our collective was empowered to consider which of the UN SDGs mattered most to us, both as advisories to The Common Room and within our own organisations. The goal we agreed was most critical was Goal 17: Partner- ships for the Goals – that the sustainable development goals can only be realised with strong global partnerships and cooperation.

As the very nature of our relationship with The Common Room is built on collaboration, we now champion this goal within our own organisations and personal lives, giving us a key focus and a common aspiration.

An Investment in the Region

 The Youth Board’s relationship with The Common Room is twofold. While we play an advisory role on the governance of The Common Room and its programme of delivery, its investment in us has been second to none.

Throughout our appointment, the Common Room team has provided us with professional training to enable us to develop our own leadership skills. Moving forwards, we will be mentored by main Board members to develop our skills, participate in governance training and to further strengthen our Board experience.

Through working with industry and business leaders, we have been able to build our support networks and thrive within our own careers. This has not only been enriching on a personal level but has also proved to be an invest- ment in the region, helping the organisations that employ us to flourish, as well as creating a pipeline of future leaders in the region.

Building Resilience

“The Youth Board team are a brilliant mix of people from all different backgrounds. I’m excited to be a part of something that offers so much to Newcastle and the wider region.”

Jennifer Scullion, PR & Marketing Manager at Tolent Construction Ltd and Youth Board Member

Like many Executive Boards, we bring fresh perspective and a wealth of knowledge and experience from our own careers with the added ability to embed young voices and opinions in The Common Room’s governance.

In these early days of The Common Room opening its doors, the range of skills we bring to the table bolsters the existing team’s already incredible tenacity and talent. We faced many hardships in 2020, all of which ena- bled us to become more resilient. While launch was inevitably delayed, it is exciting to finally share this historic space with the public, the business community and beyond.

As Youth Board members, we will continue to support the team through our specialist areas which include marketing, heritage, engineering and education to ensure the building is showcased in all its glory. Neville Hall is a magnificent place that any generation can fall in love with and we can’t wait for you to fall in love with it too.


Maddy Houghton is an experienced marketer who recently set up Fabric, a training academy that empowers the most ambitious marketers to thrive. She is a huge advocate for skills development and is committed to supporting people of all ages to find a career they love.

Maddy supported The Common Room with the SEAM exhibition in 2018 where she was captivated by the organisation’s distinctive past, culture and ambitious team. She joined the Youth Board in 2020 after she took a career break to travel across the Americas.

Before she started her marketing career, Maddy studied English Literature at Northumbria University where she graduated with a first-class honours degree in 2016. Originally from Yorkshire, Maddy has lived in Newcastle since 2013.

Maddy Houghton - Fabric Academy