The weekend before last a group of young carers from West Sussex took part in the 13th Young Carers Festival bringing together young carers from across the country for a weekend packed full of activities at Fairthorne Manor with the support of the YMCA.
This is an annual event and caters for 2000 young carers giving them the opportunity to take a break and spend time with peers, make new friends and share stories. A range of activities from outdoor sports to crafts, discos & bands on the festival stage this is a fun-filled weekend full of activities. Read more about it from young carers themselves.
Young Carers work throughout West Sussex has developed and has become a great partnership between the Young Carers Service which is part of Social Care and the Youth Support and Development Service. Local groups have been set up across the county and now operate on a fortnightly basis giving all young carers the opportunity to take part in activities especially for them. Alongside this we have an active programme of positive activity days which happen during the holidays providing a range of personal development opportunities where young carers learn a range of different skills and increase their self confidence.
A developing aspect of our work is the creation of a group of older Young Carers (16+) who will be setting themselves up as an independent group to represent the voice of Young Carers and look at Services for them. I’ll report later how it goes!!
March is election month for young people here in West Sussex!
Voting is taking place to elect young people to the West Sussex Youth Cabinet, the UK Youth Parliment and also to some of our local Youth Councils.
With voting now open the new Voice & Engagement Team are busy supporting colleagues across the county to enable young people to have their say. Over 60 schools, colleges, youth centres and the youth offending service are all signed up and over 40,000 ballot papers already pre ordered.
What is the West Sussex Youth Cabinet?
The West Sussex Youth Cabinet is a group of 48 young representatives and the 4 UK Youth Parliament representatives, who are democratically elected by young people from all around West Sussex.people from across the county. The Youth Cabinet represents the views of the young people in their areas at county level. Young people attend monthly Youth Cabinet meetings around the county. collect and disseminate the views of their constituents and get involved with a variety of projects promoting young peoples views and solutions. They also liaise and get closely involved with the WSCC Cabinet and meetings with elected members.
Young People have been learning about the Youth Cabinet and preparing election manifestos a range of which can be seen here.
What is the UK Youth Parliment?
The UK Youth Parliament has over 600 representatives (369 seats for elected MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament) and over 230 Deputy MYPs, all aged 11-18.
MYPs are usually elected in annual youth elections throughout the UK. Any young person aged 11-18 can stand or vote. In the past two years one million young people have voted in UK Youth Parliament elections.
Once elected MYPs organise events and projects, run campaigns and influence decision makers on the issues which matter most to young people. All MYPs have the opportunity to meet once a year at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting.
Here in West Sussex young people are voting for 2 MYPs and 2 Deputy MYPs. Have a look at some of their manifestos here
We are anticipating that this will be one of the biggest democratic youth participation events across West Sussex this year and will keep you updated on progress!
Quite a mouthful isn’t it!!! For young Careleavers aged 16 or over this is an important participation network that works alongside the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum supported by the National Care Advisory Service.
In West Sussex young people have only recently been involved in the Young Peoples Benchmarking forum (YPBMF)supported through our Children In Care Council Co-ordinator. The young people have gained a significant amount through being involved in this forum, especially meeting other careleavers from around the country and contributing to getting their voice heard.
On Thursday last week West Sussex Youth Support and Development Servivce were priviledged to be able to host a meeting on the south coast (many of the previous meetings have usually been held further North which has involved a considerable amount of travel for those concerned.) The YPBMF is facilitated by Catch 22 and along with a range of staff about 20 young people attended the meeting. Unfortunately Tim Loughton the Childrens Minister was unable to attend however he has recheduled to meet with the group in the New Year.
For me it was great to meet a pro active group of young people who are enthusiastic and positive about making changes to our systems and services in order to improve outcomes for others. Something that really struck me from their conversations was the breadth of disparity between local authority provision for Care Leavers. We often hear talk of the postcode lottery with regards to Health Services however these young people are experiencing this very thing from their Corporate Parents about their own living & educational needs. Although there is guidance concerning Care Leavers there is no clear offer to young people who are leaving care as this is very much defined by the local authority who have overall control of the budgets. This means that it can be very confusing for a young person to know what to expect and who to hold accountable.
The young people spent time looking at the questions that they hope to put to the Minister in the future, especially those to do with their entitlement and needs. Catch 22 staff were excellent at facilitating the session, particularly supporting young people to think about potential responses to their questions and how they could ensure that they got a real answer rather than a politically correct one. This was a great example of facilitating young peoples voice.
Many thanks to Catch 22 and the forum for providing food for thought and I hope that in the future they will be given sufficient time to raise their carefully thought through concerns. I look forward to hearing how they get on!
On 4 November 2011, Members of the UK Youth Parliament (known as MYPs) sat in the House of Commons and voted on which of five issues ought to become the priority campaign for the UK Youth Parliament in the coming year.
The Youth MPs attending from West Sussex were:
- Liam Dallamore – Ifield Community College, Crawley.
- Lola Cole – Steyning Grammar School.
- Dominic Stannard – Worthing College.
- Samuel Theodoridi – St Philip Howard Catholic School.
As part of our ongoing development for the West Sussex County Council website for young people Yourspace we are encouraging young people to blog about their experiences. Read here for Samuel Theodoridis’ views of the day.
In the governments recent Positive for Youth discussion paper one of the areas under discussion is the negative perception of young people and what can be done about it. How can we and young people work together to counteract negative media portrayal?
This is a key aim of West Sussex Youth Service and West Sussex Council of Voluntary Youth Services who joined together in partnership at the South of England Show to show young people in a different light. Working with young people we developed a main stand, “Teen Square” where young people showed their wide range of talents, and then a number of differing stands and activities to promote the services available to young people. We feel that this both successfully engaged young people giving them an opportunity to perform and showed the wider public what amazing talent we have here in West Sussex! See what you think!