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The BIG catchup – what’s next for the young people’s investment team

4 May 2012

By Reanna Vernon, 21

We’re now two months into the BIG investment codesign process. The 20-strong team of young people has been working in different groups on consultations, research and marketing – so our meeting on Saturday 21 April was the perfect opportunity to “catch-up” on the progress we had all made. We were also faced with the task of creating an action plan as to how we would go forward. 

The investment team catch up

It was great seeing the whole investment team together again and interesting to see how all the areas of work were piecing together to formulate the funding priorities for BIG. The morning began with members of the social media team sharing the exciting contacts they had been able to make through blogging, tweeting #BIGyp and the Facebook page.

The learning team then updated the group on their progress. Abi, 16 explained, “In the Learning Team we basically look at the possible outcomes within a topic and then evaluate how successful it could be. We look at short and long term outcomes and what types of things BIG may fund. We devised a Theories of Change document so we can see how we can measure the success when the final decision has been made. It’s great to hear that our theories of change are being used by the design team to help them come to a decision!”

The Learning team feed back

She talked about how the process had helped her develop, “Personally I think the role has helped me understand more about each topic. I also have so many more skills now than I did at the start… I even use Twitter now!”

The investment team were then joined by Ambreen Shah (BIG’s Deputy Director of Policy for England) and Albert Tucker (Vice-chair of BIG’s England Committee) who arrived just in time to take part in a hilarious energiser led by Tope, one of the investment team. We then had some fascinating in depth discussions around youth unemployment and ended the session by watching Plan B’s Ill Manors video and thinking about the implications of negative portrayals of young people, another key area identified in our research and consultation.

Some of us recorded a podcast about how we felt the process was progressing, which you can listen to below.

View transcript

After a lunch break we talked and decided we needed to change the way we work as a group. Whilst we have enjoyed working on our separate areas, we felt that now there was a need to focus all our efforts on coming up with solutions to the issues we had prioritised to present to the England Committee. So the team split into two groups – one exploring ways forward in creating opportunities for unemployed young people and the other focusing on mental health and wellbeing in young people.

I joined the mental health and wellbeing group where discussions ranged from defining what we meant by ‘mental health’, to exploring the many factors and issues that young people face in this area. One of the biggest questions we had was about the impact of negative portrayal in society on the mental health of young people. If you have any views on this, or examples of projects working with young people to combat either negative portrayals or mental health issues (or both!) please get in touch with us.

I also caught up with members of the group that had spent the afternoon working on youth unemployment investment options. This work seems to be developing fast and the have developed a manifesto of ideas for BIG to consider if they choose to invest in this area:

  • As we start to talk about youth unemployment in local areas, all meetings will be co-chaired by a young person
  • Any public meeting should start with young people speaking
  • Any public meetings should be arranged at times that  allow young people to attend
  • We will develop a young people’s video on unemployment
  • We will support young people to talk directly to the press and media about BIG’s investment priorities for young people and provide media training.

As we put together plans around the priority areas, we really need input and opinions from young people and youth organisations to ensure we can learn from projects and ideas that are making a difference across the country. Please tell us what you think, and share your experience of: 

  1. Solutions to combat youth unemployment
  2. Ways to help young people with mental health and wellbeing issues.

To have your say, like our Facebook page, use our Twitter hastag #BIGyp and follow the Big Blog.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 May 2012 1:43 pm

    At No Limits youth info, advice & counselling service we work with several hundred NEET young people every year, offering practical help with jobsearch, training and job applications, advice about any issue they have and support (eg counselling, anger management, help finding housing, independent living skills training) to help them overcome any barriers they have with getting into or maintaining education or employment. Through our drop in centre’s they can access other agencies like the FE colleges, Princes Trust or Careers Advisors who can link them up with training or work experience.
    Many young people we are working with are really down and frustrated that they cannot find work that they have put effort into training for, only badly paid part time jobs. Increasingly we are seeing young people who are losing their tenancies through becoming unemployed and unable to pay the rent.

  2. adnaan munshi permalink
    3 June 2012 9:45 pm

    hi, i’d like to get involved in the scheme alongside yourselves. i believe around the Daubhill and Great Lever I can make the difference and help all those young individuals suffering from abuse and drug problems with your help and funding.

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      6 June 2012 11:10 am

      Hi, Visit our website http://biglotteryfund.org.uk/ for more help and guidanceon how to get funding or call our BIG advice line on 0845 4 10 20 30. Good luck.

  3. 7 June 2012 9:05 am

    Surely one of the best ways of helping young people is to reduce the likelihood of mental health and well-being issues in the first place. Too often Governments, social workers, health agencies, police and other organisations only swing into action after the problem has surfaced. If we cared enough, and had the vision, we would commit 25% or 50% of our resources to prevention.
    We know one in six children and young people experience sexual abuse by age 18. We know most don’t report; that they mostly know their abuser as a family member, children’s worker or indeed as another young person (one third of sexual abusers are young people themselves). We know that child sexual abuse increases the risks of most of the major social problems including depression, suicide, self-harm, relationship problems, substance misuse, issues with self esteem, anti social and violent behaviour.
    Of course some aspects of the problem are being much more talked about, for example child sexual exploitation by groups of men or by gangs; and online grooming and abuse. There are nearly always signs to look out for, that we could spot before abuse happens. Sure, the job of keeping children and young people safe is a job for all adults to share in. But these same children and young people deserve the respect of sharing with them information at the right time about things like good and bad touch, respect for yourself and others, the right to say “no”, and how to get help when something doesn’t feel right or when scared.
    Here at The Lucy Faithfully Foundation we work to prevent child sexual abuse. 20 years ago we started by working with offenders, victims and their families; and we still do this work, including working with young people convicted of serious sexual crimes as well as others with worrying sexual behaviour. Some, of course, have themselves been abused. But not all.
    10 years ago we set up Stop it Now! UK&Ireland to “go upstream” – not just waiting til abuse had occurred, a child had been harmed and police and social workers involved. Our confidential helpline takes calls from all adults with reason to worry about sexual abuse risks – so women worried about their partners or neighbours; men worried about their own sexual thoughts or behaviour; parents worried about the sexual behaviour of their children. A few young people call, but we believe most will turn to friends, the Internet or Childline and are unlikely to come across us. We provide information and support on prevention to parents and carers through our Parents Protect! website and seminars. We’ve been working with schools to provide Internet safety and responsibility sessions for children and young people, including those particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse due to learning difficulties.
    Not to forget Hedgehogs! Probably the most exciting development of the past 12 months. Working with 9 and 10 year olds in Southwark schools (to start with!) on respect and self respect, some body awareness and sex education, good and bad touch and the “swimming costume rule”, and getting help when worried. Two weeks in, two 10 year old boys got off their bus home to help a 6 year old from their school that seemed distressed. Session 4, one boy said “a friend” was scared to go home because of the gang that hangs around his street and harasses him; three others in the same class said this was true for them, too. Two 9 year olds said if they were worried about someone’s behaviour towards them they couldn’t tell their parents either because they’d get in trouble or their parents would get out a weapon to deal with the problem and then get on the wrong side of the law – again! Now we and the school know and can create a solution. Small things, perhaps. But they can make a big difference to those involved.
    Last month a couple of colleagues met with a bunch of young people in Wales to talk about relationships and sex education and all the things that could be done better. Not just about how to do sex and how to avoid pregnancy and STIs; but what if I’m not sure I want to have sex yet; how to deal with pressure from partner or peers; factoring in respect and self respect. A couple of 16 year old young men were intrigued at the idea of “appropriate and inappropriate touch”, as no one had discussed this with them before. Somehow they were expected to know about it without such discussion at home or at school. Then they got to discussing keeping yourselves and mates safe and responsible when out and about.
    Time and again we hear “prevention is better than cure”. Trouble is, we often don’t behave as if it is true. We can spend all our money on responding to mental health and well being issues for children and young people and still not have enough to do all that needs doing, as more problems surface. We’ll only ever seriously tackle these issues if we get to their root causes and prevent these from occurring.
    Child sexual abuse is preventable, it is not inevitable. So what are we going to do about it?

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