“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.

We are growing our consultancy services to include the development of youth participation services, training, fundraising, evaluation,  mentoring, with the help of young advisors, associates and partners in our network. There is much to do to bridge the gap between those who have something to say and those who want to hear, particularly those who are harder to reach on both sides. So contact us today.

Throughout 2018 and 2019 we have been building up a network of contacts and offering both formal and informal consultancy support with those who share this vision, as well as writing and promoting youth participation, including a pro bono pledge to the Step Up To Serve / #iwill campaign for youth social action, The Royal Commonwealth Society, the Queens Young Leaders initiative, and as an Ambassador for the British Citizens Awards.

Going forward, under the ‘Young Voices Heard’ banner, we plan to grow our network of young advisors and associates and provide both formal and informal support through workshops, public speaking, articles, judging, nominating awards, but mostly consultancy advice on policy and strategy. This includes promoting reform to engage more young people in democracy.  We have helped ‘young voices to be heard’ in:

  • Volunteer Police Cadets Youth Forum and Network 2019
  • Medway Youth Council 2018, 2019
  • Parliament 2019
  • Youth Politics UK 2019
  • Talk Politics 2019
  • 2-3 Degrees 2019
  • Step Up To Serve / iwill campaign 2018
  • Institute for the Future of Work 2018
  • Commonwealth Youth Council, Youth Ministers Meeting Uganda 2017
  • Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, London 2018
  • National Citizen Service teams, Kent 2017, 2018
  • British Citizens Awards and British Youth Citizens Awards 2017 & 2018
  • Children Young People Now Awards 2017 and 2018
  • General Federation of Trade Unions – Youth Participation 2018
  • Kent Youth Council 2017
  • Parliament – Lords Citizenship and Engagement Committee 2017
  • NCS Royal Charter Bill 2017, Votes at 16 Bill 2017/18
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Association debate House of Lords 2017
  • Royal Commonwealth Society Queens Writing Competition 2017 & 2018
  • International Citizens Service UN World Action Day 2017

We aim to connect those who want to hear young people and support young peoples campaigns on social policy issues such as better mental health and a curriculum for life. This has included writing and advising on youth-participation, the youth-vote, votes at 16 and youth social action volunteering.

However we are a new organisation and building up a network of young advisors and associates will take time and resources. If you can help make it happen sooner – please get in touch! We want to raise funds that will enable our services to young people be provided free.

Contact me to share your stories or talk about our services which include public speaking, workshops, training, assessment, review, coaching, mentoring and research.

JAMES CATHCART

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