Live Magazine for Young Londoners

Live magazine has been circulating the streets of London since 2001. Thirty-five issues later, it is reaching an audience of 20,000 with each quarterly release and stands as an award-winning community engagement project due to the impact it has had on disadvantaged young people.

As many as 150 contributors from all over London come together to make each edition possible. College and university students, as well as those who just have an interest in media, are involved in the magazine’s production. Once finished, the same young people then distribute it around the city in local clinics, libraries and shops for people to pick up for free.

Key to the publication’s success has been Livity, a specialist communications agency that works directly with young people to create marketing campaigns for brands such as Penguin and the BBC. While Livity and its clients benefit from their insights and aptitude, the young people in return gain access to training, equipment to produce their own print and digital media, pastoral care, as well as financial support into apprenticeships, employment, or a return to education.

Produced ‘by young people, for young people,’ the age range of the magazine’s contributors and volunteers reflects that of its target audience of 12 to 21 year-olds. “We all know exactly what the rest of us want to read,” says Kerrie, a university student. “That’s one thing that I always remember about Live. It would always be something I’d pick up because of how unique it was. It talked about things that me and my friends spoke about. Other magazines jazz everything up, but this magazine is more realistic.”

The team are assisted by journalism, photography, illustration and design professionals from publications such as the Guardian, Dazed and Vogue, who act as mentors. Live magazine’s features editor Kerrie Braithwaite, 19, explains: “They watch over us, guide us and help us out. It’s kind of like a whole new family unit here, as cheesy as that sounds.”

The young people can gain invaluable contacts as well as experience, which will undoubtedly make them employable in the future. Graphic designer, Charlene Namukasa, 20, says: “It’s given me a step ahead. It’s taught me how to network, and apply skills and theory that I’ve learned in education to the real world.”

Drawing on the positivity of its surroundings, the magazine focuses on the achievements of youth; from features on young entrepreneurs to reviews of highly rated album releases. “It entertains and informs people at the same time,” says editor, Lina Bastidas, 21. “It’s not just adults telling them stuff; it’s somebody that understands them and who knows them, so I think it’s the perfect way to get through to young people.”

The magazine recently spawned Live East, a variation of the publication focusing on East London. There are also plans to replicate the format further afield in Paris and New York.

As well as Live magazine, Livity can boast the creation of Dubplate Drama, the world’s first interactive television show, where the viewer decides the plot. It is currently in its third series on Channel 4.

A volunteer at Live magazine
Photo: copyright Junior Walker