Young people feel excluded from decisions that affect their lives.
Despite progress in recent years, young people still feel excluded from decisions that affect their lives and feel that they have relatively little influence on decisions made in the area where they live.
This is the case according to research from the National Participation Forum (NPF), a group made up of children’s charities, associations and organisations including NCB, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) for England, British Youth Council (BYC), Coram and UNICEF.
A poll of over 1,000 young people carried out by NPF shows that children and young people still do not feel they are being listened to by public services on matters that affect their lives. And although children and young people are one of the largest user groups of public services, the research shows that national surveys about healthcare, quality of local service, provision and civic activity often fail to ask them about their experiences. As 20% of the UK’s population is made up of children and young people under the age of 18, who are unable to vote, how can we ensure that children and young people can exercise their right to have their views and opinion heard?
When I read this it was no surprise to me at all. Ways for engaging young people now are as bad as they were when I was in the police, 15 years ago. Madness if you ask me, and totally unnecessary.
I think it mainly happens because the people who make the decisions in support of youth make them from their perspective, i.e.an older, different generation perspective. They have no idea how to really engage and reach the youth and for some reason can’t use technology in an efficient way to reach them. They tend to be too busy pushing ideas down and having formal (although they would call them informal) sit-downs, rather than just simply engaging youth in quick, meaningful conversations. Really, it’s not hard.
To me, engaging with youth is so easy; it is just a question of asking different questions before you even start the process. Instead of asking what we need to know and how we can get the youth to tell us, we need to ask things like,
1. What is the conversation we need to be part of?
2. Who and where are the young people having this conversation?
3. How can we tap them on the shoulder and interject into this conversation?
4. How can the information we share be so great that they want to get involved?
For most this will mean on-line, I feel. Imagine if each council had a facebook page that really worked and reached out to youth.Imagine if councils and government were searching twitter for keywords and responding to people’s challenges, there and then.What if we made youth participation simply all about forming relationships and having great conversations?