Each Youth Advisory Board (YAB) involves young people aged between 13 and 24 representing other young people across their area. They meet at least once a month to discuss issues important to them and share feedback from student surveys that are available to all pupils attending local mainstream secondary schools.
Share Big Idea:
Head Teachers / School Leaders, School Teachers, Trusts
Empowering Young People
Why was the project needed?
To inform and enable all Young People living in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire aged 11-24 to give them a voice about issues affecting their day to day lives and the commissioning of services they are likely to use.
What happened and what was the impact?
We commissioned 20Twenty productions to set up and establish the YABs in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. They communicated directly with the schools and recruited young people to form the YABs and represent their local area. The YABs started to be involved in commissioning decisions which showing other young people that their voice could be heard. There was a large widespread consultation exercise, involving 200+ young people, to identify the needs of the area and young people’s key concerns. The YABs were given a commissioning budget which allowed them to respond to the needs and concerns identified by young people during the consultation exercise.
The first YAB consultation happened in 2019 focussing on young people in Fenland Secondary Schools. Ones of the key issues identified in this consultation was mental health and wellbeing. With this is mind, the YAB started to discuss what they could do to support mental health and came up with the idea of producing a “Mental Health Booklet” to roll out to schools. The YAB quickly identified an organisation called The Young People’s Counselling Service (YPCS) and commissioned them to help develop this booklet.
The YAB and YPCS spent two years developing this resource while consulting with focus groups of young people to make sure it is what young people need and want. The focus groups looked at all aspects of the booklet from the activities to design. The booklet is now known as the “Wellbeing Journal” and consists of a journal and some wellbeing playing cards, including:
As well as these resources, schools will be offered a Wellbeing Mentor programme which was another idea from the YAB. This programme involves training one young person in each form group to deliver a wellbeing activity once a month to their form. They will receive a day of training with YPCS and then deliver the activities.
As of January 2022, the Opportunity Area is going to pilot this work with two further secondary schools in Fenland and two in East Cambridgeshire.
During the past two year the YABs have supported several other projects and initiatives, including:
Food poverty initiatives
The community Fridge
Electronic devices for students who needed them during lockdown(s).
Craft Kits for children
Mental Health kits
How did you measure success?
Number of members
Number of responses to survey,
Currently focussing on improving the range (demographic) of young people involved.
Engagement with local project, councils, NHS trusts etc.
Attendance at school’s careers fairs etc
Clear process in place to ensure young people’s voice is heard as widely as possible.
Increased opportunity for YAB members to improve their skillset and confidence.
Ingredients For Success
Clear communication in terms of recruitment. As widely as possible – all organisations working with young people. Needs to be delivered by an established partner; someone with a good understanding of the local dynamic and who is enthusiastic about young people’s voices.
Annually the project has cost circa £25k to create and maintain the YABs. In addition, a separate commissioning budget is required to allow implementation – this can come from other funding sources.
How is the Project Sustainable
Now this has been established, the Local Authority is replicating the model in other areas, this will lead to significant economies of scale. FECOA YABs hope to secure funding from LA partners and NFP organisations.
What are the Long Term Impacts
Wider recognition of young people’s voice and delivery partners are listening to young people’s needs and concerns. Young people involved in the programme have seen an uplift in skills and confidence and improvement of community relationship. Improvement in understanding of the democratic process.
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