Saturday, 24 October 2009

Some things from my head on a saturday

This week has been as varied, interesting and challenging as most weeks are. As I sit with a cup of coffee on Saturday morning reflecting on the week there are a few things that are floating in my head that might be of interest.

Funded by V we have 20 young people working 4 days a week over the next two years. The first five have just started working with us part of the Vtalent year programme. Their brief is broad - they are here to work on sexual health campaigning and it is their role with the project manager to scope, define and fund, execute and evaluate their work. I was invited to come and listen to their work.

They have done some really brilliant thinking about the reality of growing up as a young person in todays world and what helps and prevents young people developing sexual and relationship confidence and competence. The quality and quantity of work done by five people in such a short amount of time is remarkable and I am excited about the potential power and impact of their work in the future.

I am proud of the way the team within the office has really quickly adapted the way they work to offer help and support, as well as learn from the young people we have the privilege of working with us on a day to day basis.

We also kick started the process of involving young people in preparing for our annual conference in March 2010. The theme next year is gender. My assertion and belief is that unless we bring gender centre stage and use our understanding of gender stereotypes and expectations to inform all of our policy and practice development we will fail on our policy objectives of reducing teenage pregnancy and improving sexual health and the quality of relationships. A group of young people are setting off on a project to provide conference delegates with a first hand view 0f growing up as a boy or growing up as a girl in the 21st century. Asked what i was expecting them to tell us, I truly do not know what they will say - having been involved in many projects about gender about 15 years ago, I am waiting with anticipation to see what is the same and what is different.

Following the gender theme, in 2004 Amnesty International launched a global campaign to Stop Violence Against Women and campaigned with others to get rape recognised as a war crime. In June last year the UN passed resolution 1820 that recognises rape as a war crime that undermines peace and security. This resolution is a major achievement and the resolution needs sustained support and commitment from governments to ensure that rape is stopped. This eyewitness account from Nepal emphasises the importance of all us doing what we can to support the campaign -

'An officer ordered five of his men to take her to a nearby cowshed. At 5 am Reena was taken out and three shots were heard. Villagers found her naked body after the security forces left the village. Bloodstains on her discarded clothes and underwear indicated that she had been raped before she was killed.'

Finally Lionel Shrivers, the author of 'You need to talk to Kevin' was interviewed in last Saturdays Guardian. She really made me think about relationships with parents, how they change over time, and how important it is to stop reverting to a teenage/parent relationship when one is with them - which I find it remarkably easy to do sometimes. Talking about how a a novel she wrote hurt her family and their relationship, she says 'accustomed to trying to win the approval of my parents, I under appreciated how much parents yearn for the approval of their children, too.' The next day I was listening to a radio programme about children who were the first to go to University in their family and some of the challenges the families faced in understanding each other.

It was a sobering listen as people allowed deep misunderstanding and assumptions to hurt relationships within the family. This came on the back of my brothers wedding which was brilliant day, and where I saw the overwhelming pride and love of my parents, and lots of family who I hadn't seen for far long. As I listened to the programme I felt bad about the times I got a bit above myself when I first went to college and learnt so many new things, grateful my family put up with it, were proud of it and put me back in my box from time to time, and resolved to make sure that this Christmas there would be no retreating to 1988 and my folks know how much I approve of and value them deeply.

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