On Friday the 15th of February, I organised an own clothes day at my secondary school, Ysgol Bro Pedr. The day was a complete success, with pupils and staff alike revelling in the freedom of wearing their own clothes; and supporting a meaningful charity like the British Youth Council. This blog post is to promote this new stream of fundraising for the the British Youth Council, whilst debunking any myths or queries you may have about organising your own fundraising event.
Firstly, it is really, really, easy to organise. Simply ask your Head of Year and Headteacher about the possibility. In my case, they were both more than happy to help, and
Once the important people have agreed, you need to get the word out! Posters, leaflets and emails to registration teachers are the best way to make sure everyone is aware and ready for the big day. On the posters, make sure you say when and why, not forgetting the amount to donate. Personally, I decided to ask for £1 for every pupil taking part, less than the price of your morning coffee, a pound makes the day accessible to all – without breaking the bank!
Next up, you’ve got to let the parents know, a letter home will do and will make sure kids on the day don’t forget (my mum still always reminds me about these things!).
Now, you’re all set and can only look forward to the day. On the day, snap a few pictures of your friends posing awkwardly, this is great for your own school’s publicity on social media, as well as the British Youth Council’s. Ask registration teachers to collect the money during morning registration, then the real fun begins – counting! Fortunately, my school finance department helped me out and very generously counted it all for me. From there, the school banked
My school succeeded in raising £219 for the British Youth Council, which will now be ploughed back into vital youth services and campaigns across the UK.
My own clothes day was an absolute joy. It was so simple and quick to
If you would like to organise your own fundraising event, whether an own clothes day, sponsored walk or bake sale, please do get in touch with our Head of Fundraising, on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us in the office on 0207 250 8374. We would be thrilled to hear from you.
With our broad and diverse membership, our organisation represents voices of young people in all areas of the country. Often, youth councils, scout and guides groups, and our other members are the only access to opportunities for young people in rural areas, and therefore many of our policies and aims focus on these regions. The concern over the accessibility of public transport has therefore been raised through our members’ campaigns year after year, and especially in more rural parts of the country like mine, the South West.
Without access to regular, affordable bus services, young people can be isolated from friends, education, and work opportunities, and this is further impacted by the rising costs of car insurance and associated costs. With the report showing that 89% of rural journeys are made by car, it is clear that young people who are both below the age of driving, and who cannot afford to drive when they reach that point, are therefore severely disadvantaged by a lack of sustainable transport options.
We are pleased that our research into this issue from our earlier reports has been mentioned in this year’s Rural England Report. The findings of the report were drawn from, our 2012 Youth Select Committee report, researched costs, accessibility, and the impact rural transport provisions have, and so this reference is a credit to the young people campaigning on transport services. It is clear that transport has a huge effect on life chances through education, a correlation that can be drawn between costs and numbers of routes in rural counties and countless social mobility reports. Further to this, the Rural England Report also highlights how library service budgets are 25% lower in rural areas than urban ones, which can severely impact educational achievements, and many rural areas also don’t have access to university libraries – like my county, Somerset.
The findings of the report support the work out members in rural communities have been doing, and the issues they have been raising, so we hope this report shows the Government the work that needs to be done to ensure young people in rural regions are disadvantaged on the basis of where we live.
We are pleased that our voices have been recognised in this report, and The British Youth Council will proudly continue to raise voices of young people who can feel isolated and a world away from decision makers; a bridge we work to build. Rural concerns will always be central to the work of the British Youth Council, as we further our journey to empowering the voices of young people all across our country.
On the 29th January, we had the privilege to visit City Hall and participate in the Countering Violent Extremism programme, representing young people from the London Faith Forum.
A few months previously we took part in a focus group led by the ICIC at Westminster Youth Council; they asked us about our opinions in regards to the recent rise in extremism, both Islamic, as is shown is the media, and more pressingly the growth of the far-right. We had a fascinating discussion and so did they, because they selected two of us to represent young people at the programme.
At the event, we had to opportunity to discuss our opinions about how London could better respond to threats and increase inclusivity and awareness, ensuring target groups were not isolated or felt persecuted, and how to implement such reforms. All of these were responses to recent concerns in the city.
We got to talk to a board of experts in government, for instance Nick Bowes, Mayoral Director of Policy, and the London Mayor him self, Sadiq Khan. He listened to our recommendations and was a fantastic listener. It was an amazing experience, and great to have gotten it through Westminster Youth Council.
However, we did not just get to network with a group of accomplished, intelligent people; we also got to contribute ideas to how to change London’s approach to tackling violent extremism (as the programme would suggest), for instance proposing reforms in the Prevent scheme, and promoting diversity within the London curriculum.
I cannot thank the Youth Council enough for giving me this opportunity and the experience it has granted me, specifically Shofa Miah, Leader of Youth Council, and Aby Murray, our fantastic youth participation worker.
In a world that’s changing so quickly, with amazing new technologies appearing everyday, it’s more important than ever that some of society’s most established institutions open both their doors and their minds to the ideas and voices of young people. It’s brilliant to be able to say that, working closely with the British Youth Council and our members, the Bank of England are doing just that.
A few weeks ago, Ben Broadbent, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, put himself forward to listen to and answer some of the thoughtful and important questions from the British Youth Council’s members. This was something really quite cool, knowing that Ben was happy to not only put himself out there to be questioned but that it was an opportunity members were keen to engage in. Particularly when it comes to money, banking and all things finances – a world that can so often be alienating to those not working in it – embracing these types of opportunities to elevate youth voice is what the British Youth Council is all about.
The questions posed to the Deputy Governor tell an interesting story about the current concerns of younger
Opportunities like this are so important if we all truly subscribe to the idea that young people can be the leaders of today, not just the leaders of tomorrow. For many institutions like the Bank of England, one of their most important aims has to be to stay relevant and accessible to each new generation; and what easier way to do this then to open themselves up to the ideas and questions of the very people who will one day be in charge. It can be quite easy to slip into the habit of being annoyed if there is no immediate answer to our questions, but without organisations allowing youth voice to into their structures, those questions would never get a fair hearing in the first place.
Small steps are the most important when working towards big changes, and I’m both grateful and excited to see how the Bank of England and the British Youth Council can continue to give young people the opportunity to influence how money affects everyone’s lives in the future. If institutions like the Bank of England can start to allow more and more young voices truly influence how they think, work and look, hopefully, it won’t be long until hundreds of others are joining them in doing so.
Surreal is the only way to describe walking into one of the most famous and prestigious buildings in the UK. The walls and rooms were so decadent that it was so easy to feel out of place. But it also served as a reminder of why exactly we were there: to discuss solutions to the problems that came out of Commonwealth Youth Forum; to work out how to hold governments to account; to renew the energy and enthusiasm around our work.
After listening to a warm and witty opening speech by Lord Ahmed, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations, we then were graced with His Royal Highness, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. He spoke powerfully about his passion around the Commonwealth and mental health in particular. His message resonated with me so much, as he reminded us of our duty to create a sustainable world so we can leave a better world behind for our children; with the Prince expecting his first child and myself having younger siblings, we can’t afford to forget that message.
The roundtable discussions then started. Split into 5 tables for 5 different questions on topics such as maintaining the momentum of the Commonwealth Youth Forum in 2018, mine was about the most effective ways of working together. First, we each presented some of the work we have been doing across the country, which was absolutely humbling. To be around a table with such extraordinary young leaders is such an exceptional experience, I made sure to appreciate and enjoy it and truly listen. We then looked at how to work effectively in terms of strategising and resource sharing.
Different strategies came out, some of which I’ll definitely implement in my future campaigning. The chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, Tijarni, talked about how creating public demand can be so effective in keeping momentum for a campaign. In a world where there are new issues every day, it is difficult to keep people engaged and enthused with a piece of work. Putting a more positive spin and the importance of framing also came up, which is such an impactful point because the majority of discourse around social issues is shrouded in negativity.
Afterwards, I presented a summary of our discussions and listened to the other summaries. As cliché as it sounds, I genuinely felt energised afterwards; you could actually feel the electricity in the room.
The day finished as quickly as it started, with all of us saying our goodbyes. But we could all leave that stunning palace with a renewed sense of optimism, and, more importantly, a genuine call for action. We won’t let false promises lull us into inaction, not this time. This is too pivotal a moment for our futures, our children’s futures, and our world’s futures for that.
If my first month as Chair of the British Youth Council has shown me anything, it’s that our members continue to punch above their weight time and time again!
Whilst looking back on all the achievements of the last few weeks it almost feels unbelievable that so much has happened in such a short time. Starting of course by welcoming our alumni back for our 70th Anniversary celebration, updating them on all your wonderful campaigns and of course our new strategy – a truly excellent evening celebrating 70 years of championing #YouthVoice.
Whilst in a reflective mood, how could we not take a moment to proudly remember again that, for the first time ever, the Make Your Mark ballot was filled out by over one million young people?! This, followed by the truly inspiring day of debates and speeches in the House of Commons, sent a clear message to anyone listening – that the younger generations of today are well informed, and should be listened too.
Seeing Members of Parliament stop by to be wowed by your arguments, and the response from all sides when knife crime and votes at 16 were voted the campaign priorities for the year, was incredible. It shows again what we at the British Youth Council have always known – as young leaders of today we are showing our elders the true way to debate; disagreeing respectfully and moving forward collectively, all to ensure we’re campaigning for what our members want.
Most recently we saw this year’s launch of the Youth Select Committee report, focussing on the value and current inequalities of work experience. Attended by everyone from British Youth Council members to members of the House of Lords, it showed the true impact young voices can have on changemakers when we present factual, reasoned arguments that show a clear route to real societal or legislative change.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and the whole of the British Youth Council is looking forward to continuing to win for young people in the new year, which will undoubtedly be even more successful than 2018 has been!
How do we know knife crime is an issue in our area?
I have held the position of Chair for the Youth of Walsall since April 2017. Just after I had become Chair, we ran a survey for young people across Walsall asking them what they felt the issues were that needed tackling. Knife crime and gangs were voted the #1 issue with 918 votes out of 5241, followed closely by Safety with 700 votes. In the recent Make Your Mark Youth Survey, 1060 Walsall young people voted to ‘End Knife Crime’ with 196,897 voting to ‘End Knife Crime’ nationally.
Initially, we didn’t think that knife crime was a massive issue within Walsall, however, during the course of June 2017 to January 2018, James Brindley, Reagan Asbury and Rezwan Ali were stabbed and killed in knife attacks. According to the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, the West Midlands has the highest volume of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument from September 2014 to September 2017.
To tackle this issue, we decided to apply for funding from the Active Citizens Fund from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to organise and run a knife awareness campaign, ‘Real Knives, Real Lives’. Our campaign is split into three parts:
- Running four workshops with young people referred from Walsall Council’s Youth Justice Service, facilitated by Ray Douglas, a youth violence practitioner and supported by youth workers and Youth of Walsall members.
- Working with Fixers to create a short film that will raise awareness about knife crime. We hope the film will help young people to understand the effects of peer pressure to carry a knife and the effect it has on family. The film will premiere at the West Midlands Police Youth Summit on Tuesday 11th December 2018 and will then be available publicly on Wednesday 12th December 2018. We want everyone to be able to use the film in order to show young people the damaging and long-lasting effects of knife crime.
- Organising arts workshops within schools and planning an art competition for young people around the theme of ‘the effects of knife crime’.
We want to show young people the effect that carrying knives has on their friends, their families and themselves. We hope that our campaign will deter young people from carrying knives whether that be through the workshops, through the film or through the art competition.
Ray Douglas asked young people in the workshops ‘What’s your genius?’ This has stayed with me. I believe that every young person has their strengths, every young person has their genius and every young person has something to offer to their town or city, their area and the UK. If we can support young people to focus on their strengths, rather than their weaknesses, that may be the incentive they need to leave the knife life behind and instead try and hone their skills to be a better version of themselves.
Last week, all donations to the British Youth Council were doubled as we took part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge. We are utterly thrilled to report that because of the generous support of the British Youth Council community, we received over £4,800 in donations. Because of this wonderful support, young people across the UK like Curtis will continue to be able to find their voice and use it to create change. Thank you.
By supporting the British Youth Council, you are investing in a future where young people are empowered to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives. Your support is essential in creating a world where young people take an active role in society. Thank you!
Your support helps make all of our work with and for young people possible and from everyone in the British Youth Council team, THANK YOU.
I have held the position of British Youth Council Trustee for just over a year now; complete with fraught election, a seemingly insurmountable learning curve, and discovering how to accept the help of those far more experienced to overcome the curve. There have been incredibly difficult bits. And there have been incredibly rewarding bits. The British Youth Council prides itself on having a wholly ‘young person’ board. We are all between the ages of 16 and 25, and together we decide the direction of the charity, how we can best serve young people and other important responsibilities any charity board would undertake.
Throughout one year and two months of candidacy, I’ve gone through eight months of post-university unemployment, two jobs, and one year and two months of self-development. I believe firmly that being a trustee for the British Youth Council has aided and abetted that development, and given me a firm grounding of experience to take into my future. If you’re a young person reading this, be a trustee. It will stretch and pull and test you, and you will learn more than you give.
In my first position as a trustee I have learned a great deal about what a trustee is not. I have been too operational in my role. I have (shock horror, hold your ears) not read enough in preparation for a board meeting, and not known what I was talking about. I have not known enough about my charity’s history, and had to implement a regular two hour slot in my fortnight to read around the sector, and around the charity.
I have also learned how amazing and empowering young trustees can be when done well (and the British Youth Council does young trustees well). I have been flying the flag for more charities to engage with young people at that strategic level. I have also tempered my more firebrand youth belief that maybe charities who do not have youth representation at strategic level do not, not because they are scared of what they might hear, but because they are unsure of how best to engage them. To continue, I hope that by the end of this blog, you have a better understanding of “Why Young Trustees”, and why engaging young people is such an important step for charities to be taking.
Now it’s easier to identify yourself by what you’re not, I believe, so I will take that approach now:
What am I not?
I am not a trustee to ‘give back’, to the charity sector or to the youth sub-sector. I am strongly of the opinion that the day I truly believe that, is the day I should resign as a trustee, as it implies I have ceased to learn from my experiences. And what use is a trustee who is not developing their skills?
I am not a trustee to represent ‘all young people’. I am not a voice of my generation. I maybe have a slightly better understanding of them than a 50 year old, but I don’t know specifically how young black Muslims are affected by Brexit, for example. If you want to know that, talk to them. Don’t ask me “what do young people think?”. That’s not engaging young people, that’s patronising them.
I am not a trustee to ‘lead the charity to greatness’. The charity I belong to is already great. It has an unbelievably capable staff team who lead it to greatness each and every single day, in fulfilling its vision and strategic objectives – or in less management speak, in “helping young people feel empowered”. We are incredibly lucky to have the staff we have. I am a trustee to guide and question, to check and to balance. To help in overseeing. To be the charity’s biggest cheerleader.
That’s a young trustee’s biggest selling point, and for me, their biggest potential pothole to being a good trustee.
Young people are uniquely placed.
They can be raw, passionate, enthusiastic, with plenty of time on their hands. They’re different, they attract attention, they often have a great understanding of the hot button topics.
That sounds all good stuff, right?
The problem for me stems in when a young trustee is put into that box. They are the passionate one, they are the one who knows about that Twitter thing, they can be trotted out in front of our stakeholders for a reliably enthusiastic speech about how great the charity is. Young people want to be a trustee for many reasons. One big reason I would identify, is to learn. If they are pulled into an environment where they are the diversity contingent, they can be stymied by that tag. Don’t make your young trustees your token diversity, and don’t treat them as such.
Would I recommend being a trustee to young people? Absolutely I would. If you are willing to put in the work, it’s a chance to learn, it’s a chance to embed yourself deep within a charity’s framework, it’s a chance to help toward a cause you care about, and get out of your comfort zone a little.
Would I recommend charities to seek a young person as a trustee? Absolutely I would. If you’re willing to put in the work, it’s a chance to learn, it’s a chance to teach, it’s a chance to broaden your representation, and get out of your comfort zone a little.
It is obvious dissonance to have an organisation for young people without young people represented on their board.
Young people are able if you are willing.
If you want to talk about any of what I’ve discussed, you can DM me on Twitter at @Joey_St0cks