WEEKLY COLUMN BY THE STAFFORDSHIRE YOUTH COMMISSION
What are our so-called “priorities”?
They’re exactly what it says on the tin: priorities. As the Collins dictionary says, a priority is “the most important thing you have to do or deal with, or must be done or dealt with before everything else you have to do.”
We choose our priorities based on what we see going on in our local areas. We consider our personal experiences and those of people we know, as well as our survey data and information being put our by the media. The membership of the Staffordshire Youth Commission is diverse in its localities and there is at least one member who lives in, or who has links to, each region across Staffordshire. This allows us to make informed and balanced choices when considering what issues we want to prioritise for the year.
How do we choose them?
In February earlier this year, the Youth Commission sat down all together and did a lot of thinking and debating. There was a general consensus amongst the group that we shouldn’t abandon any of our existing or previous priorities as we felt that there was still more work that needed to be done for all of them.
And so it was decided that we would continue with our priorities from both our pilot year in 2017 and our second year (2018). We merged some of them together under new headings to simplify our discussions around them, and this was done via an effective grouping process using our survey data from both of our previous years, which showed how certain issues overlap or contribute to one another. For example, we combined community breakdown, hate crime and stereotyping under the heading “Divided Communities”, and added antisocial behaviour into the mix, because all of these were linked to divisions in the community caused by a lack of trust, respect, activities and/or knowledge.
We developed a total of five new priorities to work on for 2019, and two of these were a new type of priority: “umbrella” priorities. It was felt that our mental health and drugs and alcohol abuse priorities were both causes and consequences of all the other issues we look at, and so we would work on them as sole priorities but also as elements within our others.
What have been our priorities throughout 2019?
- Knife and Gang Crime – this priority also looks at changing lives away from criminal behaviour.
- Abuse and Bullying – covering everything from domestic violence and child sexual exploitation to sexual assault and both bullying and cyber-bullying.
- Divided Communities – looking at stereotyping and trust, hate crime, community breakdown and antisocial behaviour.
- Drugs and Alcohol Abuse – looking at the issue solely and as an element of the three above priorities.
- Mental Health – looking at the issue solely and as an element of the three above priorities.
Do we know what we’re going to be prioritising in 2020?
Good question. The answer is that yes, we do, but we’ll save that for another day.
We’ll give you one clue: we’ve chosen less priorities to focus on in 2020. This is because we want more time to not just research, engage and educate but to also influence, encourage and support social action and change. To us, having less priorities equals creating a BIGGER and BETTER impact because we’ll be refining our focus.
We are still in the process of devising our strategy and project plan for next year but we have a clear vision that we’re looking to set in motion. Our regular meetings are helping us to progress this quickly and we’re looking forward to revealing all in the near future.
Let’s hope you keep reading our columns each week and then you’ll get to find out!
Olivia – Staffordshire Youth Commission Project Coordinator