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Youth Voice

Youth Voice

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Hey there – we hope you’re all doing well in lockdown!

We are the Reading Youth Council and we campaign for important issues on behalf of the youth of our community, among many other vital jobs.

The group is comprised of elected representatives from across Reading, with each member working on one of our campaigns.

Reading Youth Council are a group of elected representatives for the young people of Reading, who campaign on issues that have been highlighted both locally and nationally. We make a difference by voicing the opinions of young people to the decision makers.

Some of the things we do include:

  • Taking part in planning, delivering and evaluating services for young people
  • Consulting, meeting and influencing decision makers
  • Consulting with young people
  • Promoting positive images of young people
  • Taking part in interviews for Brighter Futures for Children
  • Campaigning for the important issues for young people in Reading

Click on the “Campaigns” link below to read about our ambitions for each campaign and what we’re determined to do to achieve them.

All content has been written by Kalvin Gavrilov, Press and Communications Officer for Reading Youth Council 2020

Page updated - June 2020

Environment

The Environmental Campaign is here to raise awareness on what we can do to combat unnecessary waste. It is far more efficient for everyone to clear unnecessary waste on a smaller scale as opposed to only a select number living completely waste-free. This way we can develop a more collective, conscious approach and although there are positive reasons for jumping right into a waste-free lifestyle straight away, we also consider it important to encourage people to discover their own motives for doing this.

Ultimately, reducing one’s ecological footprint in the twenty-first century is no small task and through an upcoming network of recycling drop-off points, the campaign aims to inspire the local community in achieving this together. We aim to situate these across schools in Reading with clearly labelled bins, covering a wide range of items and materials. At the moment Highdown School, located in Caversham, has a crisp packet scheme. One member of the Youth Council, who is also a student at Highdown, told us that it was all organised by a company called Terracycle – a business known for running a volunteer-based recycling platform to collect non-recyclable pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. The scheme has since raised awareness on this topic and has encouraged the students to think more carefully about the impact of their decisions on the environment in the local area and the wider world.

In order to help further educate everyone on recycling, the campaign aims to:

  • produce a guide
  • organise a recycling competition for students
  • work with local MPs and local environmental groups

The group kicks off with great goals that will take place over time and are sure to inspire environmental change in Reading.

 

Knife Crime campaign

A survey carried out last year, found that a shocking 20% of its 11-19-year-old participants know of or knew someone who would carry a knife. With the ambitious aim to finally rid Reading of knife crime, this campaign will bring change through education, focusing on younger students at school from Year 8 up to Year 10. We feel these discussions would be best held with young people directly in secondary schools meaning that we can also reach out for the help of teachers and count on their support. It also helps us organise interactive workshops and even school affiliated theatre trips to allow them to explore this issue beyond power points and textbooks which we don’t always feel is helpful.

One method to counter the problem is self-defence, which was heavily voted on at our annual event conference in January 2020. This would offer practical advice and insight into how to prevent these dangerous situations from occurring, including how to safely escape an altercation. Furthermore, preventative measures will be put in place. One such example would include how to react to scenarios which could lead to a knife crime related incident and how to resolve conflict peacefully. We understand that these situations don’t just happen out of the blue and that often there are certain triggers that can initiate this, particularly if the person in possession of the knife feels that they are in danger and need to protect themselves.

So, what should we do next? We aim to provide mental and emotional support to students as many can feel anxious and scared about such a possibility. Next, it’s about offering fun and young person led educational programmes to schools, promoting positive activities where they can learn and grow in a safer environment. It’s a huge responsibility to take charge of but none of it would be possible without the support of our hardworking police force as we together persevere into making progress towards this national issue.

 

Mental Health

Since first launching as one of the youth council’s campaigns in 2014, we have made great strides in mental health. Yet what makes this increasingly challenging is that there is not one set solution to this. Mental health is often coined as an umbrella term and so, we’ve made a huge effort to understand the various states that one can experience on the spectrum. Services tailored for young people in Reading come in many forms, like CAMHS and No. 5.

What our survey found out, however, was that only 21% of participants had already accessed support with an additional 25% who had only considered it. Why are less people accessing support? Well, we consulted them and found a vast number of reasons that stopped them, including: a lack of comfortability in talking to a stranger, a fear that it could actually worsen the problem and a worry that if they’ve had to rely on this kind of support it would need to be included in their CV or record.

What emerged from these findings was an inconsistent theme of confidentiality in which most of the people surveyed agreed that they would feel discouraged to seek help if their parents or teachers had to be informed too.

So, what’s next? To improve services, we must establish a tighter agreement of confidentiality, that is agreed upon by schools too, and raise awareness through drop-in sessions, assemblies and regular check-ups for young people of all ages. We believe that mental health should be stressed upon with more frequent PSHE lessons incorporated into the curriculum and potentially in-house counselling. Young people should also be encouraged to explore personal methods of self-care to improve their emotional wellbeing, particularly during these challenging times that are sure to drain them. To conclude, there’s still a long way to go to but as psychologist Noah Shpancer once said, “mental health is not a destination but a process”, we aim to encourage the young people of Reading to make a continuous effort in looking after themselves, with the warm support of those around them as they should know that we all care.