WEEKLY COLUMN BY THE STAFFORDSHIRE YOUTH COMMISSION
Project co-ordinator Olivia Lucas, explains what the Staffordshire Youth Commission actually does.
It’s really simple, Liv tells Staffs Live: we research, engage and educate.
The Youth Commission meet, talk to and survey young people on topics such as knife crime, gangs, domestic violence, community breakdown, hate crime, abuse, child sexual exploitation, mental health, drugs, alcohol, stereotyping and bullying.
We survey young people using a variety of different methods: traditional and online survey forms and social media polls, as well as physical surveying (for example, “stand up if you…”). We also record discussions and have portable tablets which young people can use to fill out our surveys while we’re out on location. Our choice of surveying method is dependent upon the amount of time we have with young people.
We are aiming for 2,000 survey responses in 2019 and, as of 10th October 2019, we have gathered 1,734.
Why do we survey young people, you ask? Because we want to educate the Police, the Fire Service, politicians and councils, the Education sector and our many other partners on the views of young people. We want to make sure that young people’s ideas and opinions are heard and, most importantly, respected by key decision makers.
We engage with young people across the county in a number of ways – through our social media, and through the design and delivery of our campaigns and workshops.
So far this year, we have delivered several campaigns, including one at Staffordshire University during their annual Welcome Week aimed at Freshers students to raise awareness of the effect of drugs and alcohol. In December, we’ll be delivering a “10 Days of Action” campaign aimed at encouraging young people struggling with their mental health to reach out and talk about it. We have also rolled out smaller campaigns on our social media channels on topics such as the importance of self-care around exam time and how to spot the signs and find support for sexual abuse.
Many of our campaigns tie in with our educational workshops so we try to deliver these specifically around awareness days. For example, we delivered our self-care workshops to students at Endon High School for World Mental Health Day 2019 (10th October 2019).
The educational workshops that we have delivered this year are all part of a bigger project. In February 2020, we will be launching our own Educational Toolkit which will feature the lesson plans and accompanying resources for the eight workshops that we have designed and trialled throughout 2019. The Toolkit will be available for free use by practitioners all across Staffordshire. The vision behind the Toolkit is that it will provide important education in an innovative way through the use of relatable content and exciting activities.
By 10th October 2019, we had delivered our workshops to 633, all of whom have provided feedback on how effective the session they received was. Now imagine the reach and impact the Educational Toolkit’s workshops will have once they are also being delivered by our partners and practitioners. Not only will they be receiving education designed by young people like themselves, but they will be receiving education which has been updated continuously throughout an entire year to ensure that it is the best it can be.
Make sure to look out for our column next week as I reveal all on our big plans for 2020! Aged 16+ and live in Staffordshire? Apply here to become a Youth Commissioner and help to make a difference to your local community.
Olivia – Staffordshire Youth Commission Project Coordinator