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Throughout my time as a member of the Unitas Youth Zone Development Group, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the OnSide Youth Zones across the country and join groups such as Voice for All.
Voice for All is the name given to the group of young people from across the OnSide network who regularly meet to discuss what happens in Youth Zones, what we’d like to see and of course, how great they are!
On a previous Voice for All trip I went on in the summer, we visited the Lake District where I got to take part in a lot of fun activities which I never imagined doing and we made important decisions for the group.
Here we focused on the issues we want to help with and narrowed it down to four; homelessness, drugs and alcohol, opportunities for those with special needs and gang violence. After choosing a new name, Voice for All over Youth Voice, we all went back to our Youth Zones and vote on which is the most important.
Last Saturday, myself and 10 others woke up early to catch a train down to Wigan Youth Zone for our next big meeting. As all the other Youth Zones arrived and we were greeted with hugs, it was amazing to see all the people I hadn’t realised how much I had missed and get the chance to speak with them again.
For me, the best part about residentials is meeting up with the friends I have made and new people. Before I joined OnSide, my only friends were the people around me in school, but now, I have people I know I can rely on and talk to all across the country who I never would have met had I not joined OnSide.
We joined together in a big circle and played a few icebreakers to get to know each other better and have a fun start.
Alex, our president, and Charlotte, our vice president, led the discussion on which problem we chose to focus on and, although some Youth Zones voted on different problems as the largest, the majority voted for ‘drugs and alcohol’. Through presenting our votes, I learned that through their work at their Youth Zones, the Hive in Wirral have decided to host a sleepover to help with the homelessness in any way they can.
This was an amazing thing to me as it meant that I was actually a part of something which was making a difference already. Being a part of my development group, I won’t be able to appreciate the changes I have made to young people’s lives until it is built, but through Voice for All we were already helping people.
We went on to split into groups where there was one person from each Youth Zone in each group so that we had an opinion from all different areas. We then had to describe what makes up the perfect youth worker, the most common words being trustworthy, funny and empathetic.
Next, we were told to make a slogan for our campaign against the drugs and alcohol problems in our areas in a creative way. Each group came up with lots of different ideas and presented them in a variety of ways. For instance, my group decided to make a script and perform it, another group presented their slogan through spoken word.
After all of this, deciding on drugs and alcohol use as our focus and beginning to look at how to help with this problem, we said our goodbyes and all made our way home. I’m already looking forward to the next Voice for All trip and seeing how each Youth Zone decides to tackle this problem…. Stay tuned for the next update…