Youth forums are everywhere in health and social care, from charities to organisations, both nationally, regionally and locally. I’d never really heard of youth forums at all until a few years ago – and had I known about them I would have gotten involved.
I remember when I did a programme called Changemakers and I got involved with a scheme called Your Welcome. It wasn’t a youth forum, but it involved me helping an organisation in a youth-focused role.
From this experience and from wanting to know more about youth forums, I’ve decided that we need more youth forums in health and social care and in other industries too.
There’s hundreds of youth forums up and down the country that focus on many areas – the NHS Youth Forum, British Youth Council, the European Youth Council are some examples. There’s probably a lot in your local area too.
But why should we have more of them?
- They help organisations think of children and young people when delivering their services. If an organisation supports children and young people, I think it’s a great idea that they have a forum where they can get views from children and young people. It’s simple really.
- They enhance an organisation. Young people may think of ideas that people haven’t thought of. In that way it can enhance an organisation.
- They’ll not only benefit the organisation but they’ll also benefit young people. How? There’s so many ways that a youth forum will benefit a young person – they’ll gain skills in negotiation, debating, communication, listening and so on. They’ll also gain experience. So it’s a two way thing, an organisation helps a young person and a young person helps an organisation.
- They may help young people engage more in a service. Engagement in a service is important for an organisation and if young people engage in a service meant for them then it’s a great thing. Young people may like shaping the organisation and the services provided so they may engage more.
- They may help engage young people in politics and decisions that affect their community. They could influence a future generation of people who want to be politicians and leaders in their communities, regionally, nationally or even internationally on a global scale. I certainly am all for engagement in politics, so having a youth forum may help with that.
- They may help young people find and/or develop a passion – which could in turn help them champion a cause in their career or as their career. Having a passion is amazing – I have multiple ones, including politics evidently. Once you’ve found one and are developing it, it’s amazing. If a young person finds a passion in helping shape a service, it may inspire them to carry on and do it as a career.
- They’ll help show that the “people at the top” of organisations aren’t “big and scary.” I know that once upon a time I found people that work at the top of organisations “big and scary.” Having a youth forum may break down that stereotype!
If we had more youth forums, I think it would bring all of the above benefits – and more of course!
I wish I’d been involved in a youth forum in my area – who knows I may have gone down the political route if I’d known about them.
This leads me onto my next point that I want to make – we need more of them, but we need them to be advertised more. There are many in my local area but I didn’t know about them until I searched. I didn’t even know they existed and it’s a shame.
If an organisation has a youth forum they should shout about it and make service users and the public aware of it.
It’s a short and sweet message really – make more of them and make people aware of them.
Are you a member of a youth forum? If you are, which one? Do you want to be a member of a youth forum or have you been a member of one?
What do you think – should we have more youth forums and should we be advertising them more?
Let me know in the comments section below or on my social media accounts.