Ahead of our submission to the civil society strategy constultation, we held workshops with our members and young people. Here’s what Eloise Mei & Elizabeth Holloway from Young Gloucestershire had to say about their experience.
Arrival and icebreakers
On the 10th of May, we embarked to Bristol for an event held by the Office for Civil Society (OCS). After our train ride, we walked to the venue for the Civil Society event. We came upon a big room with tables set and took our place at one.
Conversation started almost immediately and after an initial ice breaker, we were eager to start the discussion. We opened with civil society and the role we play- defined as policy relating to young people as a community of citizens. In other terms, what links you and me, and how we can work together to improve the future for young people now and future generations.
We then mixed with other young people who we hadn’t met before and delved deeper into some key areas of our society. Business and charities and how young people can be involved, mental health and well being and what the future could look like, and politics and work, and how it fell short for the young people in our society. It was good to meet new people and have a lively debate, and learn what bought each of us to this situation.
Discussion of issues
We started with what we felt were issues for young people. Our results ranged from transport and employability to mental health and housing. It was clear as young people, we wanted a better future and to play an active role in building a stronger society, and this event was the start of our voice being heard.
We also considered what kind of person we would wish to see working with young people in the future and found many ideals of approachability and treating young people as equals were common.
Following this we had a small break, and enjoyed pizza and brownies, while we naturally started talking about how we felt in our society, our curiosity sparked by the activities we had already done. We had some really interesting debates. It was good to pick the brains of our fellow young people. And when we resumed we went back hungry for our voice to be heard, and no longer for dinner. Finally, we discussed the future and how we could play a key role.
Considering the say we have
Next was the most interesting part for us. We created a scale, one end of the room high (a 10) and one low (a 1). We had to stand along that scale, indicating how much say we felt we had for different topics. Results were interesting. As young people, we felt we had a say in school and charities. But we felt completely unrepresented in politics and businesses. We also found that there was a huge range for mental health, sadly only differing because of where we lived.
This made us consider where the divides in our society lay. They could be in location, age, and similar things that allow your voice to be heard, depending on who’s listening.
The best thing about this event was that when we it was finished, our discussions would not be forgotten. For the OCS representatives who ran the event, recorded all our answers. Often ignored by the government, it was good to have a voice. We finished feeling empowered, heard and satisfied with pizza.