9 November 2020 Children and learning

Youth participation changed my life!

A young Brighton woman says becoming a youth volunteer for a local charity in her teens was a life-changing moment for her.

Izzy is supporting a proposal for Brighton & Hove City Council to agree an action plan developed by young people in the city that would increase young people’s involvement in making decisions that affect them.

Izzy began volunteering with the YMCA Downslink ‘Right Here’ project in 2016. She was interested in helping young people with their health and wellbeing and wanted to help young people get their voices heard.

Four years later, Izzy’s volunteering experience has helped her become a mental health worker and work towards becoming a clinical psychologist.

The YMCA Right Here scheme helped her develop her skills in areas such as public speaking, running workshops for schools, being part of a team and improving decision making and leadership skills.

Izzy has worked on ‘Mental Health Champions’ workshops in secondary schools and colleges across the city. She has also helped run school workshops which led to students creating a ‘student-led action’ aimed at reducing mental health stigma and improving mental health in their school.

Izzy said: “The opportunities I’ve had through youth volunteering have really changed my life for the better.

“My self-esteem and confidence have grown so much. Being a part of a team like that really gave me a sense of belonging. It can really help with feelings of isolation.”

Work on the action plan has been led by young people’s group Youth Wise – Brighton & Hove Decision Makers. It aims to give young people more chances to:

  • Increase confidence, self-esteem and self-worth
  • Work and communicate as part of a team
  • Develop negotiating, decision making and leadership skills
  • Improve their employability
  • Gain more of a sense of belonging
  • Have a voice on issues that matter to them.

The council’s Children, Young People and Skills committee will consider the youth action plan proposal on Monday 9 November.

To read the committee report please click here. The report runs from pages 183-198.