A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
Youthforia – the North West Youth Forum
Youthforia is a youth forum made up of young people from across the North West which brings together local youth participation projects, Youth Councils and Youth Forums, to have a voice at a regional level.
Youthforia is also where members of the UK Youth Parliament for the North West come together and it is coordinated by the North West Regional Youth Work Unit. The UK Youth Parliament, along with British Youth Council, are partners in this initiative; Youthforia forms part of their national Youth Voice structure for local authorities across the North West.
Youthforia engages with, and supports, a wide range of young people aged between 11-25 years from a diverse range of backgrounds, with 40% of young people from the most deprived wards in England. Around 20% of members are from BME groups and 10% are – or have been – a looked after child. Any young person that is willing to take part in informal group discussions around issues they care about and wants to make a change in their communities is welcome at Youthforia to campaign for positive change around issues affecting the lives of young people.
Youthforia is a young people led project, with a constitution and young people’s leadership committee elected by their peers. The focus is on issues and concerns raised by young people therefore the work carried out and the projects we get involved in are all planned, guided and set by young people.
We have run campaigns and projects around transport, sexual health, stereotypes and prejudices resulting from terrorism, citizenship, facilities for young people, young people’s safety, school health services, health transitions and more. Each young person represents their local youth group and must be part of a local project to get involved.
The role of a young person who participates in Youthforia is to enable the voice of these groups to be heard regionally. Youthforia meetings are the most important part of the project. Six meetings are held per year at various locations around the North West, these usually take place on a Sunday and last all day. Each member organisation nominates up to six young people to take part in the project and become “Yofomembers”.
Yofomembers, accompanied by an adult support staff/volunteer from their organisation, attend the meetings to represent their group. Each meeting provides training for young people, consultation work, support and coordination for campaigns, Member of Youth Parliament support and staff support. Four of these meetings are run in partnership with the British Youth Council and encompass the Conventions offered regionally across the country.
What’s more, the group often organises events for other young people, from across the North West, to support their campaigns. The Circles of Influence events gave over 200 young people each year the opportunity to debate with senior civil servants and decision makers. The Youthforia Residential gave young people the chance to look in-depth at “the cuts” and put their views across to MPS. Youthforia also keep an eye out for exciting opportunities from other organisations and distribute them directly to our members. This could be anything from an interview with the BBC to a meeting with a Government Minister.
Youthforia brings young people from all across The North West to discuss and campaign about issues that are extremely important to young people. Giving young people a regional voice and improving opportunities and life experiences for young people within their local area.
For more information please contact Dan Moxon, Regional Participation Officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Young People and Local Health Watch
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 sets out that there will be a new consumer champion for health and social care called Healthwatch. It will operate in two forms – local Healthwatch at the local level and Healthwatch England at the national level.
Local Healthwatch will replace Local Involvement Networks (LINks) from April 2013 and will have additional functions. One of the key areas of difference between Local Involvement Networks (LINks) and Healthwatch is that there is now a requirement for Healthwatch to provide information and advice to children and young people about health services and also enable children and young people to have a voice to shape and influence health and care services which affect them.
The North West Regional Youth Work Unit delivered three sub-regional events, bringing together Local Authority Healthwatch leads, LINk Chairs, Local Authority Youth Participation Leads and Young People to achieve the following outcomes:
● Local Healthwatch organisations (or the people responsible for developing these) are clear about their statutory responsibilities in relation to children and young people
● Local Healthwatch organisations (or those responsible for developing these) understand the rationale and principles of engagement and participation with children and young people and have begun to apply these to their planning work to design Healthwatch services
● Links are developed between Healthwatch organisations (or the people responsible for developing these) and local authority participation leads in order to progress this area of work.
● Young people from existing local authority participation structures have had the opportunity to contribute to the development of Healthwatch organisations in relation to their future engagement with young people
North West Regional Youth Work Unit