As a UK Young Ambassador representing Wales back in 2010, I was given the opportunity to represent young people in the UK at international conferences that required representation of young people. Upon reflection, and throughout the experience of two academic degrees, this has been the opportunity that provided me with the best experience of practical learning in my professional development.
With this experience in mind, the opportunity to work on the International programmes at the British Youth Council was one I could not refuse. As a beneficiary and Alumni of the organisation as a young person, I was keen to be on the other side of the table in shaping opportunities and the experiences of young people participating internationally – especially in such a crucial and uncertain political climate.
At the first residential that I assisted at, I was able to see that the opportunities for young people to develop their skills diplomatically, socially and professionally are still a key element of the exchange of support from the British Youth Council. This was a special experience for me to see how other people are still inspired by the opportunities that they have to engage in diplomatic exchanges across the world and especially for them to recognise how this will benefit their futures and has shaped their global outlook. This first opportunity reinforced that it was important for me to ensure that my support of young people that they are aware of what a brilliant process it is, that their input is important, as well as realise their own potential for development.
My responsibilities in the role included managing and shaping the new changes to the UK Young Ambassador programme. From advertising the roles to shortlisting, interviewing and planning elections, I was motivated by the massive response, passion and commitment of the young people who were applying for the roles. This was mirrored in the participation of young people at the many events I was able to plan and manage. Events included Equality 4 Us where young people came together to create a youth friendly charter to reporting hate crime, to engaging with young people and decision makers in Northern Ireland on a post-Brexit future.
A key activity I wanted to contribute towards was the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting. I was really excited to be asked to facilitate sessions for the South East of England. As a facilitator, it was a unique opportunity to work with young people in such a diverse age range (11-18) and provide a forum for them to work together to plan, develop and debate. This opportunity has given me the skills to facilitate sessions of my own in the future and transfer skills to my next role as a doctoral researcher, where a key part of my time will be teaching and engaging others in my research.
Moving and working in London was both exhausting and fabulous. I got to attend partner meetings with key funders, internal and external stakeholders as well as expand my PR experience through the use of social media. The biggest benefit of this move was that I got to be in the office every day with a team of people who are dedicated, supportive and brilliant at what they do. I learned something new from every person I got to work with and it would be hard to beat the team atmosphere in any other role. As a charity for young people, ran by young people, the support from the community of staff, trustees and young people we engage with made difficult tasks worthwhile and the successes were met with twice the celebration. I’m looking forward to continuing to support the work of the British Youth Council and share their many successes wherever I can.