Young People in the Lead: ‘Young people are Hope’
Joe Rich, our Head of Youth Voice, shares more about her work with our Young People in the Lead advisory panel and how we are trying to ensure young people’s voices are heard across our work.
“Over the last year, I have worked with some of the most incredible individuals I’ll ever meet – our Young People in the Lead (YPiL) advisory panel - who have formed a lifetime bond through the pandemic and made a lasting impact on The National Lottery Community Fund.
Each young person on the panel is linked to a National Lottery-funded project and is dedicated to changing an issue they are passionate about. In March 2020 they set out their goals, which were to encourage projects and other organisations to put young people in the lead; guide The National Lottery Community Fund to make decisions to help improve the lives of young people, and to inspire other young people to have their voices heard.
Despite working or volunteering full time as youth workers, support workers, carers and/or being in full-time studies, they still dedicated time to YPiL and achieved the following through a global pandemic:
- Reached over 1200 stakeholders directly through events and YouTube watches advising how to put young people in the lead
- Held positions of influence on our Board, England Committee; DCMS steering group; #iwill Fund Leadership Board; Phoenix Fund and
- Created four submissions to parliament or Government departments
- Reached new audiences for The National Lottery Community Fund with a tweet achieving 9000 views
- Most importantly, they have shaped the direction of our funding through setting priorities to focus upon and building staff’s knowledge in: quality youth programmes; youth mental health; youth employment; post COVID-19 priorities; and the importance of Youth Voice
Their compassion and dedication to making a change for others is deeply humbling and their authenticity resonates through all their sessions, proven in the hundreds of comments they receive but also in the impact they have had.
Then there are their personal journeys which always remind me why I love my job and why it is important The National Lottery Community Fund and others invest in this style of engagement due to the valuable skills it builds in the young people. It’s a way to install a belief in themselves that will stay with them in their future journeys. I just wish I could ‘bottle’ those times when I observe their ‘light bulb’ moments when they are presenting on an [online] stage telling their stories to change opinions or convincing others to start their youth voice journeys and know their voices have been heard. These moments are what drive me and most importantly YPiL as it makes them a ‘new level of myself’ and changes ‘the way I view myself and my future’.
Finally I would like to reflect on another momentous moment this year which demonstrates the progress in The National Lottery Community Fund’s journey and our future plans: the Communities Can conference which saw YPiL representatives from across the UK present at our largest ever online event.
Despite our third lockdown and online fatigue, six young women from the YPiL panel(s) across the UK created a showstopper presentation for the 1200 attendees who signed up, providing rich solutions to the issues faced by our society.
Some of the amazing insights included:
- The information was invaluable from how to be a more inclusive employer, to seeing the environment as a mental health solution.
- YPiL Wales also explained their incredible journey as researchers for The National Lottery Community Fund which now involves them designing the £10million ‘Mind our Future’ Fund.
- The finale where Shannon from Northern Ireland explained how to shift Youth Voice into Youth Power.
So, what next? Due to the success of YPiL England we have now invested in setting up a YPiL for each country to ensure Youth Voice is represented across our portfolios. We are also working with other funders to ensure we are listening to Youth Voice as a collective to inform our ways of working. Please watch this space for further updates and for recruitment of our next YPiL teams in the summer.
Young people are not just the future - they are here now, and they offer the insights and solutions we could only dream of coming up with on our own. Young people are our hope, so why not give it a go?
Find out more about our Youth Voice work and why it’s so important to us.