Youth Participation

Francess Horton interviewed by Lisa Merker

In the beginning of this year, the Department for Education published an independent review of Children’s social care. The evident was that children and young people in care with immigration issues were not focused on, in this review.

Together with Coram Children’s Legal Centre, we do a yearlong project that aims to ask local authorities in England to address the nationality and immigration status of people in care. You can read more about this project in one of our older blog entries.

In the past months, Francess and Bettina organised regular youth participation sessions where they invited young people to talk about their experiences and gain new skills. Read more about the youth participation sessions, the highlights, and what the next steps for the project will be in the interview with Francess Horton, our Youth Participation and Policy Officer below:

How many young people are involved?

Over the past nine weeks, we had a good number of young people – between 7 and 10 – joining the sessions regularly. We have a core team of four young people who have been present and engaged in every session, bringing different ideas and experiences each week.” 

What have you done in the sessions?

“With the project being run by SLRA and Citizens UK, each session focused on learning, community engagement and building leadership skills. In our first session, we introduced the project to the young people and together talked about what community organising means. In our second session, we discussed how to make change happen and the different types of power needed to achieve this. The main focal point of the third session was the care review and young people were able to feedback into the Case for Change. Nick from Citizens UK explained their concept of listening to the young people which we will continue building on in the next sessions.” 

What was a personal highlight for you?

My personal highlight is how open the young people have been to willingly share their experiences with each other and staff. The young people are very keen to move to the next stage of listening and planning.” 

What do the young people involved say about the project?

“The young people expressed that it is good to hear other’s experiences that make them feel that the system is the problem and not them. It is important to learn a new language of change and new concepts like power and leadership. They generally all feel inspired and feel great to do something about issues that affect them directly and to be in a powerful position to help other young people in a similar situation.” 

What are the next steps for the project?

“We have one more session left where we will have a discussion about listening and where we will plan to organise a listening campaign as our next step to change. We would like to continue the youth participation sessions as we now have a core team of young people who are ready to form a youth assembly in the next coming months with other organisations working on similar projects.”