Hear us out: Coco's reflections on taking part in a Youth consultation

Oct 25, 2019

After years of working in retail for large corporations, the idea of being consulted in key decision-making processes was a foreign one. I had never been asked what I thought about the way things were run, and quite frankly didn’t think my voice was relevant.

Thankfully, I wouldn’t feel this way forever.

Earlier this year I decided to leave the world of retail in search of something more fulfilling. I often think back to being 18 working in a supermarket, and my frustrations over not understanding why things were done the way they were. For example, hoping for a better understanding and a change in procedure, I voiced concerns about the amount of food waste we were producing and suggested some ideas on what to do about it. Sadly (and predictably) it fell on deaf ears and I quickly realised my voice was not as valued as those older and more senior members of the team.

When I look back on my time doing these roles it seems obvious; if I had been involved in decision making, given opportunities to have my voice heard and been able to make change within the companies, I would’ve been a more passionate and engaged member of staff.

This is what I got when I found Creative Youth Network. I took a four-week fashion course with them which subsequently lead to me doing a full-time apprenticeship in their marketing team. Working in an environment full of people who strive to not only to hear, but also uplift the voices of young people completely changed my perspective on how organisations should be run.

In any organisation or business, it should be a priority to have all voices heard. At Creative Youth Network, I’m frequently included in discussions about how we can implement positive change and this has led to me feeling like an appreciated and respected member of the team.

In August, we consulted the young people we support to get back into education, employment or training on what they thought about Youth Future Foundation’s strategy and priority goals. Everyone was happy to take part, knowing their opinions were valued. Instead of the support available being based on other people’s opinion of what we need, Youth Futures Foundation asks young people what would be helpful.

Since starting my apprenticeship, I’ve seen countless more young people being consulted in what they want to see from the activities they are a part of. This results in more effective services being provided, with more young people wanting to be involved as it directly appeals to them. Being included in decision making as a young person grows their confidence and helps them to realise their own importance. It reinforces the idea that their contributions are helpful and sets them up well for the future.

It wasn’t until I found Creative Youth Network that I truly understood the value of young people’s voices and opinions. The dynamic that’s created through differing outlooks is one of the key elements to making an organisation successful.

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