To mark the Power of Youth Day 2nd June 2021, Young Voices Heard is using this article to a platform #youthvoice tips and advice to other young people starting out. It’s a collection of quotes from a series of Power of Youth interviews over the last year – when one of the questions young leaders were asked was: “What advice would you give to other young people starting their #youthvoice journey?” The full interviews can be found in our blog section and include several #iwill ambassadors. You can find more tips, standards and youthled examples in our Resources pages
What advice would you give to young people starting their youth voice journey?
“Find out what you care about and become part of any conversations going on in that space. Lots of the work I have been able to get involved in has been due to the connections that I have made in other projects. Once your name is out there, then you’ll then be able to make great changes. But most of all just start! There are so many young people doing great things from ages as young as 12, so never think that you are too young. I have found that if you are passionate people do really want to hear what you have to say. I should also add that it is never too late either.” Kianna
“1. The most important thing is to find something that you’re passionate about. Whether that’s something local that you want to change or a big societal inequality that you want to tackle, make sure that whatever you do, you really care about it.
2. Find yourself a network of people to support you. I found amazing activist friends through groups that I joined (such as in girl-guiding) and online who are still such a support today. You can’t change the world alone, so find some people who want to change it with you!
3. Take risks. I often feel really out of my depth and unsure about whether or not I’m good enough. But every time you start to feel that way, or that little voice pipes up saying ‘you can’t do it’, push through and go for it anyway! I wouldn’t have done any of the things I’ve done today if I hadn’t done some things that I was really scared of doing.
4. Finally, be yourself. There will always be pressures to do things the ‘right way’ – whether that’s your peers, your school or the media. But I can promise you, if you stay true to yourself you will have the time of your life.” Katrina
“When you are in a meeting having your say, remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question, for example ask about acronyms to be explained. Everyone assumes people know what they mean but there will be someone else in the room thinking, ‘actually Ive no idea either’, so ask.” Young People in the Lead Group (#YPIL)
“Do not be scared to ask an awkward question. If you want to be involved in making change you can’t be scared ask about something that you are passionate about”. #YPIL
“Don’t be afraid to speak up – I can’t be shy all the time because there a reason they wanted you to sit on that panel or group. Just being there and able to disagree can be enough to make a huge difference”. #YPIL
“There is a huge difference between youth engagement and participation. Engaging young people doesn’t mean they are actually going to be heard. Young people might be engaged but still silent. Participation, if it is meaningful, is lot more about their involvement, being heard and acted upon. Young people need to be more than just being in the room – that’s tokenistic”. #YPIL
“My advice to young people consists of two key parts. First, never doubt your ability to make a change. It sounds clichéd but never underestimate the power of knowing that if you work hard, change can come. You may face some criticism along the way, but just know that you’re campaigning on an issue for a reason. Find that reason and hold tight to it.
Second, use your age to your advantage. Not only are young people more creative and driven, but they can mobilise in numbers adults could only dream of. Be cheeky and don’t be scared to ask for something if you want it; whether that’s hiring a free venue for an event or a sponsor for some money – the worst thing they can say is no. I’ve found throughout my experiences that nine times out of ten, whenever I have asked for help from an organisation or an individual, they have been delighted to. So just go for it!” Dan
“When trying to bring about any sort of change within society, I’d encourage young people to think about the why and the what – why do you care, and what change do you want to see? Once you have those two points clear, you then need to consider how you’re going to sell your ‘why’ so that other people buy into it too. Lean on others – there are so many incredible young people out there, and plenty of incredible organisations out there to help support you with your campaigns. Put yourself out there and ask for help and support when you need it.” Harry
Young Voices Heard has signed the Power of Youth Charter – have you ? See details of our pledge here Power of Youth Plugged In: