In April, I attended the last UK Youth Voice Weekend of this year. It was very emotional but a truly memorable weekend for many.
Held at UK Youth’s Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Centre, all new and old UK Youth Voice members came together to celebrate, welcome, encourage and plan ahead. This weekend formed our handover, with each of us progressing. The second years were leaving, having completed their term. The first years became second years and new members joined us for the first time. These new, open-minded and driven people stepped up to become the new voices for young people in their regions.
What we did
We arrived on the Friday – happy to see and meet everyone but so tired from the journey. I came from Morecambe, which is quite far from the New Forest. I was definitely ready to sleep when my head hit the pillow but excited for the weekend ahead.
On Saturday, we were eager for the day ahead. We were all motivated to listen and learn of what was to come. To begin the weekend, we first heard from David Watts, Director of Avon Tyrrell. He talked about the history and safety rules of the old and beautiful house.
Following this, we split into our year groups. The new members met with Kayleigh Wainwright and Hannah Graham for their induction of what was to come. Second years met with Wayne Bulpitt, UK Youth Trustee for an insight on what he does and how we could become a charity trustee in the future. We then had presentations from outgoing voice members. Brendan and Maya presented what to expect from Voice and what is expected of us in our roles. After this, Joe gave us a brief session on using social media to project to a wide platform which was really helpful for us all.
Later on in the afternoon we had a special guest! Sky Yarlett from UK Parliament Outreach Service came to talk to us about how we could make an impact in our local areas and what we would like improving. We also learnt how we could contact our local MP’s.
The best experience I’ve ever had
Then came the team building challenges which was the most fun experience I’ve ever had. I was proud to be in Team Blank where people were laughing all of the time. We all worked closely together as a team and managed to complete all the activities we had chosen (archery, handcuffs, defuse the bomb and many more). At the end along with help from our instructors Ben and Cameron, we even managed to build a catapult! There are so many fun activities at Avon Tyrrell and the instructors were so helpful. I can’t wait to go again.
That night, it was definitely time for everyone to let loose and have a blast. With DJ Hannah on the music everyone really enjoyed themselves, dancing and singing having an amazing time. It was great to celebrate being on UK Youth Voice and party with my fellow members.
On Sunday morning we had a lovely presentation from Suhaib on his journey with UK Youth Voice over the past two years. I then gave a speech about things I have done in my year on Voice so far. Afterwards we had Kayleigh talk to us about having our say in the Civil Society Strategy which was a really insightful session. I’m glad that the voices young people will be prioritised in the UK Youth response to the strategy.
UK Youth Voice is a family
After lunch we had an award ceremony for all the leavers, giving them each an award for the one thing we all love about them. Then we started with the group photos after the awards. This made some people very emotional because UK Youth Voice has grown to be a big part of some people’s lives. It’s now their time to leave and spread their wings, but we will always be there for them.
UK Youth Voice is a family and these weekends just bring us closer together!! Good luck to all the leavers – let’s make the future better. And to those remaining – let’s make this a memorable time for all of us!