Toby Jones from Public Health Wales’ Youth Forum has blogged for us about his experiences representing young people in a variety of roles ahead of our ‘Young People Influencing Decisions about What Matters to Them’ event.
My Youth Forum experience has been life-changing. Local consultations, research and presentation of findings to decision makers in an attempt to adjust specific topics like the area we live in or bullying in schools to benefit young people better has set the foundation for many national projects I have taken part in. Although I take extreme pride in regional and national experiences like representing my home county of Wrexham in the House of Commons as part of the UK Youth Parliament and representing North Wales young people as part of an intercounty advisory group.
However, out of all the work I’ve done, none have been able to display immediate change quite like the work with Public Health Wales. To have the full backing of an organisation right from the first day of my involvement writing the inaugural young person’s annual quality statement in April 2017 which was fully designed and published to be young person’s friendly was an incredible sign of things to come.
At the youth health summit in the early winter of the same year, a speech from Chief Executive Tracey Cooper was the most passionate I’d ever heard an official of a non youth focussed business or organisation truly believe that young people’s voices matter.
Availability of resources aside they have set the perfect example of facilitating young people to change access to their product, in this case health information, for the future and for the better.
Too many times I’ve seen a youth group used only as a tick box exercise or a youth group allowed to chase their own tails without professional input for too long, getting the right balance is absolutely key. A group has to tackle issues step by step and you have to prioritise issues to tackle appropriately.
It’s easy to want change, its bloomin’ difficult to make a change.
But it’s overcoming that challenge and the intricacies involved that keeps me loving youth work and ensures I maintain my connections with Public Health Wales.