Tuesday, 31 July 2012
A Boat, a Riot and Some Very High Heels
Two weeks ago I was privileged to attend an award event to celebrate the work of young Brook volunteers based in London which was also attended by two of our trustees. This guest blog is by Pete Lawson, Brook Board member and I absolutely agree with everything Pete says.
A year ago, the media was full of stories of young people rioting and looting. If only we gave so much coverage to the tens of thousands of young people across the UK who give their time making their communities better. Changing the country they live in – not by ripping it up, but by transforming it around them.
So it was a real pleasure on July 17th to be invited to an event to celebrate the achievements and contributions of young Brook volunteers across London and those working on the V24/24 sex positive campaign (www.sexpositive.org.uk). The venue was plush – a boat on the Thames – the heels were out in force. These young volunteers were celebrating in style!
I went with Dorren Majeed, one of our young trustees. It was a brilliant chance for the two of us to talk to many Brook young people and staff, and hear so much about the incredible breadth of work taking place across London. I can’t imagine how many hours commitment was represented in that room.
What’s crystal clear is that volunteering is fantastic for Brook. It brings young people right in to the heart of what we do, and a chance to learn from and harness their passion, expertise, energy and creativity – whether that’s mystery shopping on condom schemes, delivering peer education projects, creating dynamic campaigns, or advising clinics on how to better meet the needs of young transsexuals. The greatest experts in young people’s behaviour are young people themselves. The evening was full of examples of how young volunteers help Brook get better at what we do well, and move confidently and effectively into new areas.
Just as importantly, volunteering is great for young people themselves. Young volunteers gain a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to the world around them, to gain valuable new skills which help them progress through education or employment, and to let their voices be heard. It was really inspiring to talk to so many of our young volunteers – and to see how for so many, this has been a real turning point in their lives. Whether it’s an accredited apprenticeship or a chance to be part of a peer education project, so many young people on the night told me that they were now wanting to pursue a career in youth work, in education, in sexual health. Volunteering can give young people a chance to try things that otherwise they have no opportunity to, to develop a passion or uncover a talent, and to discover a new pathway through life. One of our young volunteers has even set up a young people’s sexual health project in Uganda. What an inspiration!
So to all the young volunteers across Brook – not just in London, but far beyond – we celebrate your incredible contributions. And promise to carry on providing a riot of opportunities, not just to harness your energy to create change – but to shout to the world about it. Let’s change the story we tell about young people.
*you can follow Pete on twitter @petelawson68 and you can follow me and the team on @simonablake and @brookcharity and @besexpositive