New youth project will help young people's voices to be heard

Young leaders

Young leaders - Credit: Emily Sethi

Young people have wonderful ideas and their creativity is inspiring!

We are pleased to be starting an exciting new project with Sidmouth Town Council this month, and we believe co-designing and co-producing this project with the young people that will use it is essential to making it a success…

Last week, we met with a group of young people from Sidmouth Youth Centre, including a range of representatives from across all the age groups we work with. We discussed the project with them, asked how they would like to get involved in the work, explained the different types of tools they could use for involving and gathering ideas from young people across Sidmouth, and together we started creating a list of top priorities. The Sidmouth Youth team were delighted to see young people of all ages working together so well; encouraging ideas and challenging each other positively.

We are passionate about young people’s participation at Young Devon, as we believe young people are best placed to know about the challenges they face, the impact that these challenges have on their lives and the best solutions for them. We place young people at the centre of our services and work in partnership with them, ensuring their voice sits at the centre of all service planning, evaluation and delivery.

Participation has also been a big part of my career before moving to the Westcountry. Did you know that one of the United Nations fundamental child rights is that children and young people have the right to be heard and to express their voice in a way that works for them? In my previous roles, I have spent time talking to young people about this; often young people feel they have had choices and power taken away from them, especially those that live in poverty or are in the justice system. I cherish opportunities to tell children and young people they have this right, and that they can ignite change in things that impact them and matter to them.

The group of young people we met with last week were equally inspired by this new information about their rights, and jumped at the chance to list down all their hopes and dreams for the project. I sat back, asked the odd explorative questions, encouraged, praised and gave them the space to develop their own ideas. I am hoping that this group will become equal contributors and leaders on this piece of work, as they now have the opportunity to see their voice influence and shape an important and valuable piece of work in their community.