At the end of June, I was privileged to be working with a truly amazing group of young people and Brook staff, while facilitating Brook’s second national participation advisory group residential (called “P+” by the young people involved). This brought together 14 young volunteers, aged 16 – 23, from across the organisation on a three day residential in London, focusing on Brook’s commitment to ensuring an active and meaningful partnership with young people, based on choice, shared decision-making and respect.
Brook believes that participation is a process through which young people can be heard, influence decisions and, importantly, effect real change. Young people were involved in setting the agenda for the event, which included:
- a workshop on business planning, delivered by Brook’s Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services;
- a workshop on becoming a Young Trustee – we have two places ring fenced on our Board for young people;
- developing a communications strategy so that young volunteers can share learning, develop ideas and find out about new opportunities;
- making a short film about participation, to help explain the importance of young people’s involvement from a rights based perspective
- reviewing Brook’s complaints procedure, to ensure that young people using Brook’s services are empowered to be involved in service development.
The young people were extremely focused and hard working during the event, generating an incredible amount of fantastic work which will be used to help to shape Brook. Their enthusiasm and motivation was inspirational, and it was brilliant to work with such an eclectic mix of individuals, with a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds within the group, including several from minority ethnic backgrounds, young people who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, young people with a range of socio-economic backgrounds and abilities, those with experience of mental illness and mild to moderate learning difficulties.
We all had a lot of fun too, and the young people remarked on how quickly they all bonded. Team building included a trip bowling, and some of the young people enjoyed attending London Pride, which was running on the same weekend!
We received really positive feedback about the event, both from young people and staff involved, including:
“Volunteering with Brook is a self enriching and an enlightening experience, it has been great actually having my views and opinions heard and acknowledged, knowing that I as a young person can make a difference has assured me that Brook values young people’s opinions.”
Jakub, Young Volunteer
“Thank you so much for the fantastic weekend I have had!! I really hope and wish I get to meet everyone again!! Feels like I've known them all for longer than 2 days and we all got along so well and had such amazing ideas.”
Rebecca, Young Volunteer
“I just want to say what a great time I had at the P+ weekend [...] it was
really enjoyable and made me even more excited to be involved with Brook, as well as giving me more ideas for what we could do in Bedford. I hope that there will be more P+ events in the future as I think this one was really beneficial to everyone. I really like how Brook does really want young people's involvement and opinions and ideas.”
Lucinda, Young Volunteer
“This weekend reminded me why I got into working with young people in the first place!”
Brook staff member
“I’ve had a wicked time! It’s been awesome and really inspiring!”
Brook staff member
|P+ volunteers holding up signs from the Sex:Positive campaign pledge.|
To find out more about young people’s participation at Brook and to view the short film created by the young people during the event please visit: http://www.brook.org.uk/index.php/more/participation