This post was written for the UK Youth blog and was published on 16th April 2018.
Happy World Voice Day!
This day is important to raise the voices of people around the globe. For young people like me this is to raise and represent young people’s views and beliefs on issues they care about. On this day, we can celebrate all the people who highlight the significance of having a voice.
Too often young people feel like they have been sidelined and pushed to the side. But this shouldn’t be the case. We all have our own space on this earth and should be encouraged to express ourselves however we want to. We should be encouraged to take part in opportunities, whether that be locally, nationally, internationally or online. My advice would be don’t underestimate yourself and most importantly don’t give up. Do you really want to be given a reason to be excluded from decision making?
What does youth voice mean to the world?
Youth voice means something different to everyone young person to this planet and it is a term which is being used more and more by the national media. This is rightly so, as all of us are doing positive actions which need to be shared with the wider world.
I feel it’s really important for as many young people to experience these type of opportunities as possible. It means having fun, gaining skills, meeting new people and making a difference in our communities. This is something that I have been passionate about for as long as I can remember!
Finding my way into #YouthVoice
I first started off by participating in the Scouting Movement as a Beaver, Cub, Scout and then an Explorer. When I was a Scout, I started as a young leader at my local district scout group. This was extremely rewarding as you are giving back to an activity which you once took part in yourself! From a sleepover in the Sea Life Centre to weekly meetings, there was so much fun to be had. I got to know the kids and see them develop with such bubbly personalities! It’s amazing when you realise that they look up to you.
From this point on, I chose to run for election as a Member of UK Youth Parliament (MYP) in Norfolk to represent the young people of the Mid Norfolk Constituency. After a tough election campaign, I was elected as the MYP and my youth voice journey began to flourish. I had always felt like change needed to be made to different services and sectors and this was my way to do it. I then felt I had the confidence to stand for the Procedures Group role. After that term, I reached out to UK Youth as a way to continue to advocate and campaign on youth issues.These issues include the need for effective mental health provision and Votes at 16.
What have I learnt and what more could be done?
Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to be a member of UK Youth Voice since this time last year and they have given me some experiences I thought would never happen. For example, in June 2017, myself and a few other UKYV members delivered the Youth Voice Manifesto to No.10 Downing Street.
In case you haven’t read it yet, the 5 key calls in this document are:
- Make youth services a priority public service
- Enable every young person to take an active role in democracy
- Provide accessible, high quality education for all young people
- End discrimination, prejudice and hate crime towards young people
- Enable future generations to live in a clean, safe and sustainable environment
I think that there is still an outcry for more opportunities for youth from a range of different backgrounds. Although, there are some youth centres and clubs who do amazing things like Stepney Bank Stables, in other areas there is next to nothing. This disparity is something I would call for the government to look at and finally realise the impact that cuts post 2010 have had on our young people.
Are you someone who feels they have no voice? Are you someone who thinks the younger generation hasn’t got a say in decision making? If this is how you feel, then you will be mistaken and it’s time for a change of direction. I’m just as tired as you are by being talked at, it’s now our chance to make this a conversation on #WorldVoiceDay.
If we don’t speak up, then we cannot complain that our views aren’t being heard.
We must continue to amplify our voices every day of the year.