Cyber-bullying, young people’s relationship with the police and mental health were just three of the priority topics that young people from across Cheshire discussed with Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane at the Youth Commission ‘Big Conversation’ conference.
Cheshire Youth Commission, made up of 28 young people volunteering to represent the voice of young people on policing & crime issues, have spent the last six months out and about across Cheshire talking to other young people on issues that matter to them. Workshops have been held in schools, colleges and youth and community organisations with over 1,500 conversations providing a rich source of information about what young people think on matters such as abusive relationships, drugs & alcohol and hate crime.
The pilot project culminated with a conference (26 October) held at police HQ in Winsford where the Youth Commission members presented their findings to Commissioner David Keane, Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott and an audience of representing partners from the fire service, health, education, the voluntary sector and other agencies supporting and working with young people.
Reflecting on the evening David Keane said: “The conference was a fantastic opportunity to sit and listen to young people about what matters to them. I was hugely impressed with the work that they have done - talking to young people and reflecting and representing their views.
“It was really fascinating to hear the Youth Commission’s ideas for the future; ideas such as more involvement of young people in officer training to try and break down stereotypes on both sides; the role we can all play in removing stigma and getting young people (and adults) to talk about mental well-being; and the need to ensure that the right services are in place and properly promoted to support young people who are victims of abusive relationships.”
Youth Commission member, Lucie Fellows, 21 from Northwich shared her thoughts:
"It was amazing to see all the hard work we'd done come together and share with everyone. The engagement of the delegates in our plan was brilliant and I can't wait to see what comes of it."
Another Commission Member, Imogen Chappell, 15, from Chester said: "I really enjoyed the conference and it was very interesting to be able to present and talk to partners of the Commissioner. I felt that we gave a new point of view to everyone who was there and I think that will help in the future. Overall the Big Conversation was amazing!"
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott commented on the evening: “It was very humbling to hear the comments made by young people on behalf of young people. To have so many interested in the relationship with the police was very encouraging. They reflected what we are doing well and gave some practical ways we can improve. Continuing to talk with, listen and understand young people’s views will be part of our approach as we look for ways we can continue to improve the service we deliver.”
The Youth Commission will now produce a final report with recommendations for change by the end of the year.
Concluding David Keane said: “Finally I want to say a huge thank you to all the young people who have been involved in the Youth Commission, you have done yourselves and our communities proud. I can’t wait to read your report and work on what comes next!”
The conference was a fantastic opportunity to sit and listen to young people about what matters to them.