Teenagers are to play an active role in the shaping the future direction of the UK’s most high-profile charity that campaigns to prevent cruelty to children, the NSPCC.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children says it is ‘vital’ that young people’s voices are represented as the organisation looks forward to building a better future, and is urging the government to listen to what the youth are saying.
And it is showing the way forward by giving its youth board members a platform through which they can give key advice to policy makers and trustees. Over the next two years, members will be actively sharing experiences and opinions which are relevant and important to them, as well as taking part in residential courses, meetings and workshops.
The charity says that the pandemic has had a ‘huge impact’ on young people, with its Childline support service carrying out more than 61,000 counselling sessions on mental since the start of the UK’s first lockdown. Lucy Read, Head of Participation, said: “The last year has changed the lives of many young people across the UK but, as we now look to the future, the new members of our Young People’s Board for Change have a great opportunity to make their voices heard.
“We believe that a generation of young people should not be defined by the pandemic, so it has never been more important to listen to them and embed their views into everything we do. Children are the experts on their own lives, and there is so much that we can learn from their experiences.”
Board member Will, 15, said: “This role is a chance to make positive change in the world with other like-minded teenagers. I will enjoy being able to be a part of helping create an environment where all young people regardless of gender, sexuality or race have equal and fair chances to make their way in the world and to always feel safe.”
Will and his fellow board members met online for the first time at the end of March and are already talking about how the past year has affected their lives, and what they believe are the vital next steps to supporting young people in the coming months.
Elan, 16, said: “The past year has been tough for everyone, but for young people who have had to go from socialising every day with hundreds of students to being alone all day every day for four months, and then back to school again recently, it’s been an especially turbulent time, so I think the most important thing young people need coming out of the pandemic is understanding, patience and to be listened to.”