YHA is a leading youth charity. Youth voice is integral to all our work and an area that we continue to build on after the successful development of the YHA Youth Advisory Team in early 2020.
In 2022 we will develop our work in Wales. We have significant assets in staff – hostels, expert staff and opportunities to connect young people to nature, outdoors, wellbeing and new volunteering and careers. And we want these to work even better for young people in Wales.
As part of this we collaborated with young people from across Wales to help shape a funding proposal to be part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s Mind Our Futures programme; a programme designed to put young people in the lead so that they can imagine and create a more resilient and mentally healthy future for young people in Wales.
The proposal was coordinated by YHA, in partnership with Girlguiding Cymru, Scouts Cymru, Field Studies Council, The Outward Bound Trust, Brecon Beacons National Park and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authorities. The project, Natur Meddwl / Nature in Mind, will empower and support young people to co design ways to build and share knowledge and methods to use nature as a resilience tool throughout all young people’s live and with others in their communities.
The proposal has been informed by input and discussions with the following young people:
- YHA’s Youth Advisory Team – Wales representatives
- Brecon Beacons National Park Authority’s Kickstart Youth Ambassador
- Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Youth Committee
- Field Studies Council Youth Committee member – representing mid Wales
- Girlguiding Cymru Youth Ambassador – Pembrokeshire
- ScoutsCymru Young Commissioner – representing Mid Wales
- Youth representative from Our Bright Future and Wildlife Trusts Our Wild Coast project
- Peer Action Collective (PAC) group, youth reps from Cardiff and Swansea – via Media Academy Cymru
Around 25 young people were involved in either 1-2-1 discussions (online), one written submission; group forums (online or face-to-face); either joining existing agendas or setting up specific sessions that have usually been between 1 to 2 hours. This range has meant we have gathered a rich amount of advice, expertise and experience to inform the project in a format that young people have been comfortable with. Discussions were informal and followed free from conversations, guided by the following prompts. These were shared in advance to have time to prepare responses:
- What mental health services and support are they are aware of in their communities?
- Thoughts on nature and its connection to resilience and mental health.
- How to make sure youth voice is front and central to the project.
We made sure all were thanked for their input; we shared the application documents with them and met as a group in January to share thoughts on the proposal and to work out next steps. All received compensation for their time and input and will receive a thank you gift for taking part (a voucher for a two-night stay at a YHA of their choice for up to four people).
From these initial discussions and on the request of the young people involved, we have convened a new youth voice group so they can continue to meet and share learning to feedback to their own organisations and as part of their own personal development. They have shared excitement about coming together to learn from each other to better support their own youth voice within their own organisations and to hear from other young people. We have received positive feedback from the sessions; young people highlighting they have appreciated the informal nature and style of the sessions to create a safe space for sharing their experiences.
The group will now support the development of a Wales-specific strategy for YHA and look forward to strengthening connections with each other.
Discover more about YHA.