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!
I have just read Jon Jollys post about the ongoing cuts to the services here in West Sussex.
As he rightly points out, it is a challenging and difficult time for all practitioners and managers within the service. The YSDS has already been reduced by £2m and we are now being asked to reduce the service by another £2m by March 2012. The service is currently consulting with residents & young people about these cuts and this closes on the 14th October with the select committee scheduled for the 4th November. Young people from the youth cabinet are meeting with the Cabinet Member and Director of Childrens Services to discuss these changes and input their views and thoughts about the future of the service.
Whilst this is happening we are also trying to bed in the new service which has seen significant changes in the way we are delivering and who is delivering our services. There has been a big upheaval for staff with many (including myself) being asked to change roles and operational areas. Staff are also uncertain of their future and are also being asked to deliver services in new and different ways. They are all working incredibly hard to deliver the best services for young people through these constant changes. Jon mentions the lack of communication and consultation with the community and young people over changes to the night a club opens and the staff delivering it. I agree that this should be the way we are working but have to put my hand up and admit that at the moment the fact that some of the clubs are open at all given the numbers of staff we have is a feat in itself. I oversee a different area of the county and know that I have been involved in making decisions about when we can open a club and who will staff it in isolation to the community and young people. This is partly down to the fact that with the need to further reduce the service is not recruiting new staff, any vacancies are managed internally which impacts again on the number of staff we have available so we are incredibly stretched.
Staff are also feeling devalued as their profession and years of training appear to count for nothing alongside a government agenda that believes volunteers can replace them. With staff stretched to deliver our own targeted and prevention services there is less time to support the voluntary sector as we used to at the very time they need that support to deliver universal services.. They (and communities I talk to) continue to be frustrated by this.
So where are we headed? Personally I am currently reviewing the services I am responsible for with the teams I manage whilst also making every effort to talk to the local communities and involve them in the decisions we have to make. In little over a month we should have a clearer steer on the way ahead which will need more planning and organising.
On a national level at a time of increasing youth unemployment, unrest and lack of opportunity the very services that could support young people are being decimated. It seems obvious to me (and many others across the country in similar positions) that these cuts are happening too rapidly and are unsustainable, by the time the government realises this will there be anything left to rebuild from?
I’ve finally got the chance to write about the amazing residential weekend we had a couple of weekends ago. As I mentioned in a recent post, we’re putting together a targeted youth support programme for young people which includes an overseas experience in India run in conjunction with Raleigh. To that end we were up really nice and early the other weekend to meet at Cobnor to put a group of 14 staff from across West Sussex County Council through their paces. Our aim – to find 5 people who could lead, facilitate and develop the group of 30 young people that will be taking part in the programme. Here is a snippet of what they went through.
The weekend was a great success and we found our 5 staff. Other unexpected outcomes was the positivity everyone experienced working across different services. We had people from the Youth Offending Service, Family Link workers, Social Workers, Voluntary Youth Services and more and they all fed back that they had enjoyed the chance to work together as a team on practical tasks during which they got to know and understand work with young people from a different perspective. Definately food for thought as we move forward with integrated services! It’s the young peoples Taster Weekend next and then that’s me done for a while on residentials……..hopefully I can then refocus on the day job!!