“Hello and welcome to ‘Young Voices Heard’, an initiative promoting greater youth participation in public life. As well as being a ‘movement’ and ‘campaign’ with, and for, young people, we also offer a range of support services through my social enterprise consultancy James Cathcart Associates, for organisations, staff, trustees and young leaders, on Youth Engagement, Participation in decision-making, CEO coaching, Training, Mentoring and Fundraising support. Surplus income is reinvested in mentoring and youth advocacy free to young people.
Background: I’m a former carer and youth worker, now specialising in training others and campaigning for reform. When I took a career break from being the Chief Executive of the British Youth Council/UK Youth Parliament in 2017, I realised there was so much more that could be done to bring together young people wanting to have say and those wanting to listen to them. Inspired by, and still advised by, a group of young leaders and alumni of the charities and partners that I’ve worked with, I decided to do something to bring about our shared vision to promote greater youth participation in society and public life – in the boardroom, in communities and in the media. Whether you are a young person with something to say, or someone wanting to hear it, I want to hear from you.
Whilst there has been some growth in ‘youth-led’ action and ‘youth-voice’ democratic initiatives for under 18’s, and some increase in participation by over 18’s at the ballot box, there is still much to be done to ensure those voices and votes are truly ‘heard’, recognised and acted upon. We aim to promote and share good practice about positive youth participation in society, targeting decision-makers and the media. We want society to recognise and value their contribution, not only as volunteers in local communities, but as change-makers in the boardroom and in parliament, by sharing, writing, advising, and advocating on their behalf. We want to reach out to youth-led initiatives, to connect them to each other starting out, their peers with greater experience, and to the media to recognise them. We especially want to reach those on both sides of this dialogue to those who would not otherwise get the opportunity.
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