Sometimes decision makers do care: be courageous

Rose, aged 21, describes how presenting her concerns to a meeting of Government officials, renewed her faith in the people in charge as being eager to listen.

The National Children’s Bureau, gave me and a few other young people the opportunity to speak to the Treasury, and where we believe the government should provide more resources. And coming from somebody who has had a lot of difficulty speaking up, I wanted to share my experience.

Ok, so what is it like speaking to the Treasury?

As a young person, the thought of taking action in the form of having direct contact with service professionals can be scary. As a result, I went into the experience expecting to be met with a “we know better than you” atmosphere. I believe that this is definitely possible in many situations concerning youth and youth services, and what mainly feeds into that fear and discomfort we have around sharing how we feel honestly.

However, that was certainly not the experience this time, and what a relief that was!

All of the young people, including myself, were free and allowed to speak up and say what was REALLY bothering us, there was no backlash, counter-arguments or negative questioning. The panel was very receptive to what we had to say, and genuinely wanted to understand judging by the questions that were given. One thing that was very helpful about the treasury, was that there were professionals from different sectors present, which were DfE (Department for Education), HMT (Her Majesty’s Treasury) and NCB of course. The reason being that what we, the young people, had to say, was heard across all three sectors. And often the support or changes that we need require action from different places.

Something I learned from this experience, was that not all youth service professionals think or act the same. As young people, we are used to allowing things to happen to or around us because we believe we have no say, or even the right to speak up. The issue is that sometimes when we speak, we need to think of speaking to the right people. It may sound disheartening that we can’t always go to the closest person to us, but after this treasury meeting I have realised that the decision-makers do care, and do have the ability to listen and change things. We just have little to no direct contact with them, so we believe they don’t exist or care.

So, I really want more of us, the youth, to be courageous and take a step forward, NCB are a really good way to start that process. Reach to speak to those who can do something, we just need more of us to push for more for our community. I definitely recommend more young people to look for opportunities like this, as there are people who WILL listen to you.

And you never know, why not try, what you say may do something amazing …

Rose is an ‘Expert by Experience’ working with the Living Assessments programme at NCB.