JJ Tatten

(UN)COMMON SPACES 2020-2024 Associate citizen

Chief executive officer at The Warren Youth Project, JJ Tatten is the associate citizen of (UN)COMMON SPACES partner Freedom Festival.

For the past 38 years, The Warren Young People’s Project has been providing vital support services to young people in Hull, UK many of them marginalised and vulnerable (1,109 of them in 2018-19 alone – using our services a total of 13,345 times in that year). Operating from a former fire-station in Hull city-centre, the Warren’s staff team offers free support, guidance, training, education, counselling, employability skills/training, and creative expression activities and services to young people aged 14-25  who are experiencing issues relating to a whole range of social ills such as unemployment, food poverty (through our café) fuel poverty, homelessness, sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance-abuse, bullying, neglect, domestic violence, family-relationship breakdown, learning difficulties, racism and homophobia. We also work very closely with young people who are experiencing physical and mental health problems such as self-harming, eating disorders, depression, STDs and loneliness to name but a few. We also work with young people up to the age of 29 on the issue of employability and skills (by appointment) and with young people aged 11-15 around issues of sexuality and gender identity.

We specifically target this broad demographic to ensure that we can comprehensively support young people’s progression through - and transition from - adolescence to adulthood in a number of areas, not least of which is their mental health wellbeing. At the Warren, we’re about ensuring that young people are listened to and get the support and the space and time that they might need to take control of their own lives and make the right choices. Our staff strive hard to create the environment that enables young people to feel safe and supported to talk about the things that are bothering them and also to campaign on issues that they feel passionate about.

We value our relationships with young people and know that they are incredibly resourceful and, with support, can ultimately be trusted to know best about their own lives. We do this by ensuring that our 37-year-old Empowerment Policy is central to our working practice and subsequently equips young people with the necessary life skills to make informed choices. To do that successfully requires an environment where young people can be who you they are without feeling judged. We believe that we create that place at The Warren.

We also provide a music & creative industries service which supports young people to develop their creative potential and transferrable skills-set in any field or genre by providing free rehearsal and recording studio space and support. As well as being a vital element of our strategy to support and empower vulnerable young people, our creative team also play a prominent role in the city’s arts community by facilitating access for those who might not otherwise engage and is working through national and international networks to promote local creative talent – with a strong emphasis on music. It is now a primary partner in all the city’s major festivals and has successfully facilitated countless live performances along with the digital release of hundreds of music recordings through Warren Records which may never have been heard due to the unaffordability of recording facilities to young people. We also run a music industry festival and conference:

The primary lever of governance within the Warren is our own internal young persons’ parliament (called ‘The Thing’) which debates, decides and votes on the services provision that young people require and in turn task our staff team to deliver those services. This lever of governance empowers young people to be the primary driving force in securing the services they feel they need. 

You can find films and other resources relating to The Warren Youth Project, Warren Records, Warren Record Store and our numerous projects on: