As I attended the final event linked to the launch of the final report of the Youth Violence Commission, I’ve been reflecting on how powerful children and young people’s voices can be, and yet how often they are simply overlooked, dismissed or simply plundered for others benefit.
At Safer London we’ve been hosting a short series of webinars to launch our new five year Strategy. Central to our Strategy is our commitment that young Londoners will shape the organisation, working with staff and Trustees to inform the development of existing and new services.
Their influence will be at all levels. From being central to their own personal support plans, through to a structured pathway for them to be employed by us or sit on our Board. We have begun that journey and will hold ourselves accountable to ensure we deliver on that.
We started work towards that commitment by involving young Londoners in our webinars, ensuring their voices were present within them. Their input alongside the voices of our team of practitioners were the most well received parts of these events – and these messages from young Londoners need to be used further, to influence both Safer London’s thinking and others in the city.
However, sometimes you find something that is directly designed by the young person themselves and that then gives the ability to document words that come directly from them, rather than prompted by others. This week I watched a short piece by a young man entitled ‘The Message’ – I would urge you to watch it here. I reached out to him and asked if I could share it, since I found this one and a half minute video incredibly powerful and an outstanding piece of work.
I think it shows that rather than direct young Londoners to respond to our need to co-produce or elicit their commentary to justify our actions or programmes of work, we need to invest in giving them the tools to speak – with us learning to listen a little closer to what they are saying.
I hope to meet the creator of this piece of work and others. I’ll strive to do some of that listening, to see where we go next and how we can better enable young Londoners to lead the work at Safer London.
Sherry Peck, Chief Executive
You can find further information on our webinars, including links to the watch the young Londoner’s contributions below:
Webinar One: Is tackling violence about teachable moments? Enduring relationships? Or both?
Webinar Two: Some services try to support victims. Other services work with perpetrators. What if the person you’re working with is both?