Future in safe hands: working with Dudley Youth Council

DYC logo

As everyone’s winding down for Christmas, I’ve been thinking about things I’m looking forward to in the new year when I come back to work re-energised. One group I’m really excited to be working with more closely is Dudley Youth Council.

Dudley Youth Council is a group of young people that works to make sure young people’s voices are heard and to make Dudley borough a better place for young people to live in. They get involved in all sorts of projects, promote positive images of young people, support young people to get involved in community action and work to foster joint-working between young people and decision-makers.

I recently met with members of the management group, all young people between the ages of 14 and 19, and the full council, along with Siobhan Lloyd from Dudley Youth Service, to talk to the group about their ideas and aspirations for developing a Dudley Youth Council supporters group for adults to be involved in.

A few things I enjoyed about both of those meetings:

  • How participatory they naturally are. For the management meeting, I’d prepared some simple visioning questions that I thought would be a good starting point for the young people to think about. This included encouraging members to imagine that it’s a year from now and the new group is running beautifully – what would it be doing? What would it be achieving? How would it look and feel? I also encouraged them to consider who their ‘champions’ might be (hence my DYCdrawing!); these would be the types of people they might invite to join them in developing the
    group. The management group was happy to share their ideas and vision, but they were clear that these should be discussed with the wider council. So with a few tweaks, we agreed a plan for a workshop that I’d facilitate with the full Youth Council, in a way that would ensure that every member could contribute.
  • How supportive of each other they feel. The management meeting felt like a real team effort. At the full Youth Council meeting, everyone had the chance to update the group on what they’d done on behalf of or to promote Dudley Youth Council since the last meeting. They celebrated each other’s contributions throughout the meeting.
  • How clear they all seem to be about their shared aims and how thoughtful they are about their organisation. When we discussed what the supporters group could do, it became clear that this was more than just about having a group that could help with fundraising and banking. The members clearly saw other opportunities that involving adults might bring to Dudley Youth Council, such as getting new perspectives, sharing ideas, improving relations across the generations and having routes for their own development once their time at Dudley Youth Council had come to an end. They were very clear about what kinds of people they would like to be involved. Even when they named specific people that they would love to get involved (including Beyonce and my fab colleague Melissa!), the consensus was that it should be people that are willing to listen, that would respect them rather than patronise them.
  • That they’re completely at home with technology and use it to their advantage. The group use Trello not only to plan their yearly activities, but to capture what everyone has done between meetings. This simple method should save them time when they come to do their annual report, and I’m wondering about introducing something similar to our CVS staff meetings!

So thank you, Dudley Youth Council and Siobhan, for the fun and engaging meetings, and for being so kind about my terrible drawing! I’m looking forward to working with you in 2016!

5 thoughts on “Future in safe hands: working with Dudley Youth Council

    • Thanks Maisy. I’m glad you liked it! And thank you for sharing this on Twitter too. Have a lovely Christmas break and I’ll see you soon 🙂 x

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share these observations and ideas Becky. I sometimes find when working with groups that a lot of energy and attention is focused on what’s not working, so to read an account which draws out and describes what is working and what’s good about the way members work together is really inspiring. Your post prompted me to consider that:
    1) These attitudes and behaviours and the culture they create don’t come from nowhere – I imagine Siobhan Lloyd has invested a huge amount of thought, love, knowledge, skills and energy into nurturing leadership abilities among all group members – and those who were involved previously who could bring the current cohort into a positive and supportive group culture.
    2) Our experiences of dynamics and behaviours in groups probably play a big part in our own behaviours in groups. In working with community groups who have a close relationship to highly structured, hierarchical organisations like the council I have frequently observed what looks like a mirroring of behaviours and power dynamics. I hope that as more and more organisations and businesses experiment with and adopt very different ways of organising that the ways we work together in all sorts of groups will evolve to become much more supportive, participatory, inclusive and open. Including being open to learning and using digital solutions to support group activity.
    I love the use of Trello you mentioned. I’m *all about* Trello and Slack in 2016 (a bit like being All About That Bass but with less aggression towards fellow females 😉 ).

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