Building a Safer Internet Together – #SID2018

By Christina Watson at UK Youth. This post also appeared on the Nominet Trust website here

To celebrate Safer Internet Day 2018, which promotes the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people, we’re raising awareness of the 300,000 young people in the UK who are estimated to be “digitally excluded”.

The Basic Digital Skills UK 2017 report suggests that at least 3% of those aged 15-24 lack the basic, resilient digital skills that many assume young people have by default. These skills include the ability to use a search engine to find information, complete online application forms, manage money or solve a problem using a digital service.

Digi-Know

To address this lack of digital skills in young people, particularly those who are facing personal, circumstantial or systemic barriers, we launched a new programme last year. Our Digi-Know programme, which is part of the Digital Reach programme by Nominet Trust, helps empower disadvantaged young people to access a world that’s now digital-by-default. Through Digi-Know, we set up 10 unique Digi-Know hubs in youth organisations in our network, creating a bespoke digital space within each local service and providing training to youth workers and young Champions to deliver creative digital skills sessions.

Building a better internet

Through the programme, we’ve been able to see a real difference in the lives of young people, ensuring they’re prepared for their future ahead.

The training includes support to remain safe online, with sessions covering topics such as cybersecurity, privacy, digital footprint and digital citizen identity.

Our resources are linked to how young people use digital media, what they put out in the world and who and how they connect with others. Participants are encouraged to explore the safety of their activity and are trained against their individual needs, through a range of engaging and dynamic resources.

Digi-Know sessions, led both by youth workers and young champions are helping hundreds of young people feel empowered online. Throughout the programme, we’re closely monitoring the development in young people’s skills and confidence and hope to share our positive findings later in the year. It’s clear from early findings that young people are increasingly facing pressures online that they aren’t always prepared for.

 

By raising awareness, Safer Internet Day encourages people to work together to build a better internet and our Digi-Know programme is just one of many ways the youth sector is helping young people feel safe, confident and creative online. Help showcase the vital role youth organisations play in tackling digital exclusion by joining the conversation at #SID2018.

Voice Reacts: UK Youth Voice on Votes at 16 in Wales

Votes at 16 was one of the many policies proposed in our UK Youth Voice Manifesto, released for the General Election in June 2017. You can read the manifesto by clicking here

Following yesterday’s announcement that the Welsh government plan to lower the voting age to 16 for local elections in Wales, we spoke to members of UK Youth Voice for their perspective on the change.

Kate Seary, UKYV Rep for Wales

“Bringing votes at 16 to Wales is a great opportunity for young people to make their mark on Welsh politics and make their voices heard! It is disappointing that the Welsh government hasn’t taken the opportunity to extend the vote to assembly elections as well as local elections, but it is a step in the right direction. With fantastic success in Scotland with votes at 16, it would be great to see the franchise extended to young people across the country. Votes at 16 will give young people the chance to change the perception of young people failing to engage in politics”

Nikhwat Marawat, UKYV Rep for West Midlands

“A more engaged population is a more democratic population. Allowing young people a say on issues that will affect the communities they know so well is a slow step to empowering young people who will bear the brunt of decisions made for them and not by them. Though we haven’t achieved our goal of votes at 16 for all just yet, this is a welcome and sure step for a more democratic future for us all.”

Megan Doherty, UKYV Rep for Northern Ireland

“I believe that 16 and 17 year olds should be granted the vote as many leave school and go into the workplace/army and should have the right to influence political agendas that affect them. But many aren’t mature enough to vote responsibly or have a great understanding. Therefore I would like votes at 16 to be supported by political education in schools.”

Mark Magee, UKYV Rep for Scotland

“It’s fantastic to have votes at 16. In 2014 this was made a reality for so many in Scotland in the Independence Referendum. With such an important decision to be made it would not have been fair for those who were 16/17 to not have their say.  I was lucky enough to have turned 18 at the end of 2013, but had I been 17 and be unable to vote, I would have been devastated alongside many others! I’m shocked that its taken over 3 years for more governments to back Votes at 16 and I’m super excited for Wales were young people are being given a chance at this!”

You can find out more about UK Youth Voice by clicking here or by emailing voice@ukyouth.org.

National Storytellers Week – My Youth Work story

By Leto Dietrich, UK Youth Voice representative for East Midlands. A version of this blog was delivered by Leto to the House of Lords Citizenship & Civic Engagement committee.

For National Storytellers week, I wanted to tell the story of what helped me develop into the person I am today – my engagement in youth services.

I currently represent the East Midlands on UK Youth Voice, the national youth board of young people from UK Youth member clubs and organisations. We believe that all young people should be entitled to a minimum standard of youth service provision that includes a safe space, engagement with trusted adults and peer networks.

For many young people, their youth club is their only safe space. Youth services underpin many other essential services for young people including mental health services, citizenship education, social mixing and training. They are crucial in supporting young people through their journey.

When I was 14 years old, I got the opportunity to get involved in my local youth service through work experience at school. I’d never got involved before and afterwards, I never looked back.

The youth centre provided me with a safe space to freely express myself through a variety of projects. This included creating music projects for the whole community to enjoy or running a Friday night session. Whilst I was there I become friends with people from across the community – people I would not have met had I not attended the youth centre. Plus, through volunteering I learned many skills such as budgeting, admin and leadership training.

All this experience allowed me to make the next step. After a year, an opportunity to join the Daventry District Youth Forum came up. This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase my passion and skills previously learned on a larger scale.

Unfortunately, that youth centre which gave me and many other young people so many opportunities, is sadly not there anymore. This is a disappointing reality in many areas.

8 years later and still actively engaged with youth work, I am now a National UK Youth Voice board member representing young people all over the UK. The support I received then is undoubtedly the reason I am where I am now.

My story is how youth work helped me, and how it’s vital we invest in youth services for others to have a similar story to tell.

#YoungCarersAwarenessDay – How UK Youth members support Young Carers

By Jamie Fernandes from Young Devon. Young Devon are part of the wider UK Youth network and work closely with a variety of young people, including young carers. You can find them on Facebook or Twitter

The life of a young carer is very different to that of the average young person. Childhood, and all the wonderful learning curves that form us are skipped, the crucial time of development, to be who we can be in this world. Young carers behave beyond their years; they carry the emotional and physical burden of looking after someone that they love.

So what is a young carer?  They are someone under the age of 18 who looks after another person who is ill, disabled or a sufferer of drug misuse. There are over 700,000 young carers in the UK alone, equivalent to 1 in 12 secondary aged pupils.  The average young carer is 13, but with some as young as 5, their mental health is at serious risk.

The responsibility of caring at a young age can adversely affect the important things associated with growing up. A social life becomes non-existent and self-confidence is shattered. Instead of meeting with friends, or engaging in after school activities, 1 in 3 young carers spend 11 to 20 hours each week caring. In fact, 1 in 20 will miss school completely.

Many young carers struggle to balance their education and caring; a survey of 350 young carers showed that 48% were stressed because of their role. The life of the average teenager is complicated enough without these added extras. Questions of normality, emotional strain and physical excursion, can lead to behavioural repercussions; 26% of young carers admitted to being bullies.

Having the right support can make the biggest difference to the life of a young carer. 39% of young carers said that nobody in school were aware of their situation at home; which can lead to feelings of isolation and neglect. It is important that young carers know there are people they can approach and people there to help.

Young Devon are always here for any young person who needs us. We provide a number of support networks for young carers to interact with one another and show them they are not alone. We also offer Early Help For Mental Health, Counselling and Mentoring programs to help in the personalised way necessary for that young person. With the right support, young people can learn and develop skills being a young carer. It shouldn’t be something that takes over their life or steals their youth; they should have time to be a young person and Young Devon are here to make that happen.

You can find a list of UK Youth members by going here

25 Year Environmental Plan: a significant marker, or empty incentives to gain a youth voice?

By Joe Porter and Megan Doherty from UK Youth Voice. You can find out more about UK Youth Voice by going here or by emailing voice@ukyouth.org. This blog has also appeared at ShoutOutUK.

Theresa May and Michael Gove have outlined the Government’s new 25 Year Environment Plan that aims to make Britain “a cleaner, greener country for us all”. The plan pledges to end plastic waste, create new habitats for endangered species, deliver a “Green Brexit”, create nature-friendly schools and aims to make Britain a world leader in tackling environmental destruction.

As part of UK Youth Voice, a national group of young people that sits at the heart of the youth charity UK Youth, we are pleased to see the environmental plan showcases the importance of the youth vote to major political parties in the modern political climate.

The country’s younger population are well aware of the impact of climate change, fracking, plastics and other environmental issues on their future. Young people understand the need to address these issues and there are countless numbers of young activists campaigning for legislation to support environmental protection. They were crucial in amplifying the social media campaign to ban microbeads from cosmetics which resulted in new legislation being introduced to tackle waste entering the ocean, and were overwhelmingly against the idea of reintroducing fox hunting, adding to the public pressure that resulted in Theresa May announcing that there would be no vote on the issue during this Parliament, to name just a few. Despite this, only one in ten young people spend time in the countryside or in large urban green spaces. One of our own Voice members experienced the benefits of emotional wellbeing, teambuilding and outdoor education when participating in a Staffordshire Wildlife Trust youth social action project in their local woodland.

Joe Porter with Michael Gove
Joe Porter with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with a copy of the UK Youth Voice Manifesto

As members of UK Youth Voice, we developed a Youth Manifesto which highlighted the major issues of discontent among the youth across the UK. We presented our manifesto to 10 Downing Street and Cabinet Ministers, including Michael Gove at the Conservative Party Conference. We called for policy to “enable future generations to live in a clean, safe and sustainable environment”. Our manifesto calls for the creation of an Environmental Protection Act, following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The 25 Year Environmental Plan is a major step in the right direction for environmental policy and it’s worth noting that this is the first environmental pledge by a Prime Minister in 15 years. It emphasises that business and environmental protection policy can work together to ensure a strong economy and stable environment is present in the UK. We hope it’s a significant marker for environmental protection and policy that the Government sticks to until 2043 – rather than it merely being full of empty incentives to galvanise the youth vote.

Only time will tell but we mustn’t stop campaigning until these promises become reality – after all, everyone depends on nature. It underpins our economy and our wellbeing, from the food we eat to the air we breathe. We must all take action to protect the future of our planet, for our generation and generations to come.

Education is too important to our current and future generations to keep changing direction

By Hannah Graham at UK Youth, in response to the #cabinetreshuffle on 8th January 2018.

Following closely the announcements in Theresa May’s cabinet yesterday, we are saddened to hear that Education Secretary, Justine Greening MP has lost her position. Justine has given continued support of the UK Youth Voice Manifesto over the last year, pledging to bring sex and healthy relationships education into the 21st Century ensuring LGBT inclusivity and mental wellbeing and also being a role model in politics and the media for many LGBT young people in our networks.

Education is too important to our current and future generations to keep changing direction; stability and consistency are vital in order to provide an education that is accessible for all children and young people. It is vital that the measures announced in December to tackle the UK’s growing social mobility problem aren’t shelved following this announcement. Justine has since said that social mobility matters to her more than her ministerial career and she will continue to do everything she can to create a country that has equality of opportunity for young people. We look forward to working with her on her mission.

At UK Youth, we hoped that Theresa May would take this morning’s opportunity to appoint a Youth Minister and make a real commitment to young people. To value youth voice in the future, we would like to see meaningful participation in dialogue between policy makers and young people. The 18-24 youth vote has earned the right to inform, influence and scrutinise, but we need new and innovative ways to consult young people on local/national Government policy and decision-making.

“An opportunity to strengthen our message”

We will continue to work very closely with continuing Minister for Civil Society, Tracey Crouch MP to ensure the £90million dormant assets fund to build a fairer society are used wisely in order to help young people transition into employment. We welcome the appointment of new Secretary of State for DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media & Sport), Matt Hancock MP and we also welcome working with new DCMS Minister, Margot James MP and Education Secretary Damian Hinds MP on his APPG Social Mobility report on the importance of embedding life skills within education. We will be monitoring the title changes over the next few weeks, to clarify whether these are purely cosmetic, or have wider implications for the roles of the officials and the impact this has on young people and the youth sector.

With lots of new faces around the table at Number 10, this can only be an opportunity to strengthen our message and project a wider reach with the aim of building brighter futures for young people, whatever their background or circumstances.

Other Appointments

Headlines (Cabinet)

  • Damian Hinds MP becomes Secretary of State for Education following Justine Greening’s shock departure
  • David Lidlington replaces Damian Green as Cabinet Office Minister, but doesn’t receive First Secretary of State title previously held by Green
  • Matt Hancock MP becomes Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Brandon Lewis replaces Patrick McLoughlin as Conservative Party Chairman following a brief announcement on Twitter for Chris Grayling for the role, which proceeded to be deleted. Backbencher James Cleverly appointed as Brandon Lewis’ deputy
  • Jeremy Hunt MP now becomes Secretary of State for Health and Social Care taking on a more expanded role including the new social care green paper
  • Karen Bradley MP moves from DCMS Culture Secretary to replace James Brokenshire MP as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
  • Sajid Javid former Communities Secretary, in another title change becomes Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • David Gauke MP moves from Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to be Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
  • Esther McVey MP becomes Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Ministerial Appointments

  • Harriett Baldwin MP becomes Minister of State at Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development
  • Jo Johnson MP leaves the Office for Students and becomes Minister of State at the Department for Transport and Minister for London
  • Chris Skidmore MP, former Minister for the Constitution whom we have been working with on democratic engagement now demoted and in new position as Conservative HQ Vice Chairman for Policy. It is unknown at this stage who will replace him.
  • Alok Sharma MP becomes Minister of State for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions and Dominic Raab MP becomes Minister of State for Housing
  • Margot James MP becomes Minister of State at Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Mark Garnier, International Trade Minister, Philip Dunne, Health Minister, Robert Goodwill, Education Minister and John Hayes, transport minister are also leaving the government
  • Sam Gyimah MP becomes Universities Minister at the Department for Education
  • Caroline Dinenage MP and Stephen Barclay MP become Ministers of State at the Department of Health & Social Care
  • Rory Stewart MP becomes Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice

No Change Here

  • Amber Rudd MP remains Secretary of State for UK Home Office
  • David Davis MP remains Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU
  • Boris Johnson MP remains Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
  • Greg Clark MP remains Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Philip Hammond MP remains Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Michael Gove MP remains Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Penny Mordaunt MP remains Secretary of State for International Development
  • Chris Grayling MP remains Secretary of State for Transport
  • Gavin Williamson MP remains Secretary of State for Defence
  • Liam Fox MP remains Secretary of State for International Trade
  • David Mundell MP remains Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Ben Wallace MP remains Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime
  • Greg Hands MP remains Minister of State for Trade Policy

A new youth voice journey

#ThrowbackThursday to this great post by Emily, a member UK Youth Voice about her experiences being a member. You can find out more about UK Youth Voice by going here or by emailing voice@ukyouth.org

thatcreativegenius

Back in April, I was selected to be one of the members of the UK Youth Voice National Board, for my region, after an application process.

Since then, I have become involved in the activities of the charity, UK Youth, and am developing my skills, so I can make sure that I can truly represent the people who live in my region (East of England).

What is UK Youth Voice?

It is the national youth board that shapes the services of UK Youth, the leading youth charity in the UK at present. It is made up of a collection of young people from different backgrounds aged 16-25 from all regions in the UK, the Channel Islands and a representative from the Avon Tyrell activity centre.

What do we do?

The main thing we do is to represent both UK Youth and young people on a national level at our meetings…

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