Young people mark ten years of influencing decision-makers

Two young people’s groups supported by North Yorkshire County Council will celebrate ten years of influencing decision makers and giving young people a voice on Saturday 21 July.

Young people enjoy one of the activities at a recent C-Day organised by the Young People’s Council.

The Young People’s Council (YPC) comprises and represents those who have experience of care, while Flying High provides a platform for young adults with disabilities or additional needs.

Current and former members will come together at the Pavilions of Harrogate to celebrate their tenth anniversaries. They will hold meetings in their groups before joining up for a party.

Ed Graham has been involved with Flying High for five years and is now its chair. He said: “Flying High has really changed us all. I think my confidence has come a long way since I started Flying High. When I started, I would never talk. I think I have finally found my own voice. As soon as I started Flying High I felt like there was a bigger part for me to play. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and give them the hope that they can achieve their goals and dreams.”

Flying High has grown from four founder members to 12 young people aged 16 to 25 from across the county. They have worked on issues such as improving accessibility for wheelchair users at East Barnby Outdoor Centre, improving leisure activities for young people with disabilities at Selby Leisure Centre and improving youth group activities for young people with disabilities at The Street in Scarborough. Members have presented at conferences on topics such as preparing for adulthood and autism awareness.

The group is currently working on improving the way bus companies interact with people with hidden disabilities, ensuring mental health services are accessible for people with disabilities and improving the number of young people with disabilities who get into paid work.

“A lot of people in Flying High do a lot of voluntary work, but opportunities for paid employment are no so easy to come by,” said Ed.

The Young People’s Council runs consultation days, known as C-Days, across the county to bring young people together to share views and enjoy activities. Members present at fostering conferences and twice a year update the County Council’s looked-after children members’ group. They have met the Children’s Commissioner and Children’s Minister and have been consulted on mental health by York University and on social worker training by the Department for Education.

Amy Harlow, chair of the YPC, said: “Ever since I joined the YPC I feel I’ve been able to be myself. I am now able to stand up in front of large group of people and speak and give a presentation. Thanks to county council members of staff for helping me do this. I have definitely made friends for life within this group. I hope all new and old members have a brilliant day on Saturday and they themselves can make new friends with both old and new members of both groups.”

County councillor Janet Sanderson, executive member for children’s services, said: “Both of these groups are about giving a voice to young people with particular needs or experiences and they do a commendable job. By giving their time and energy, they find out what is going well and, more importantly, what needs to change.

“They have access to decision makers within the county council and their partners and have a strong track record of bringing their influence to bear. The county council supports these and other youth groups and it is a sign that the authority is committed to listening to young people.”

Both YPC and Flying High are represented on North Yorkshire’s Youth Voice Executive, a body formed by the county council last year to bring together young people’s groups from across the county to share ideas.

Any young person wanting to find out more about either group can email vip@northyorks.gov.uk.

This story was published 18 July 2018