Enthusiastic National Voice of Youth, (Spotlight Project)

Linda, 13, member of ENVOY

Tell me about yourself
My name is Linda. I am 13 years old and I live in North London. I go to school and am studying for my GCSEs at the moment. My interests include Youth Participation, Reading and Cycling.

Why did you decide to join Enthusiastic National Voice of Youth (ENVOY)?
I like to make my voice heard and I think I can make a good contribution to the voluntary youth sector

What type of activities have you been involved in as a member of ENVOY?
Planning for the National Council Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) Young Partners Award. I helped short list the nominations, visited some of the short listed projects and did loads of talking at the awards ceremony.  I helped with the NCVYS AGM on environmental youth work, have spoken about young people and ENVOY at a conferences at City Hall and had a job assessing funding applications and visiting projects for the £5 million Young Londoners Fund (YLF)

What do you think are the main issues affecting young people today?
Negative perceptions through the Media, Gun and Knife Crime, Education and Disability

What do you think are the barriers stopping young people from getting involved in decision-making on matters that affect their lives?
Being called names by other young people for getting for doing work. Meeting times and dates are often insensitive to things like going to school

How can adults support young people better to get involved in decision-making?
Adults should be caring, not patronising and more open and YP friendly – they should be up to date with what young people like and want as well.

Rebecca, 13, member of ENVOY

Tell me about yourself?
My name is Rebecca Davidson and I’m 13 years old. I live in High Barnet. At the moment I’m being home schooled. My interests are drama, swimming and Youth participation with NCVYS.

Why did you decide to join ENVOY?
I used to be part of Barnet’s Children’s fund’s panel and was introduced by them to NCVYS. I went on a residential with them and found I really enjoyed it. Now it keeps me informed of many different opportunities for my friends and me.

What type of activities have you been involved in as a member of ENVOY?
Too many to say. I have been on several residential and am involved in the planning of the next one. I was involved in visiting the groups for the Young Partners award. As part of my schooling I try to go into the NCVYS office once a week to help with the weekly newsletter.

What do you think are the main issues affecting young people today?
Bullying sometimes involving real violence. I have to leave my own borough in order to have a safe place to meet with my friends, which is also not really safe because I’m far away from home. The only safe place we know is our local church (not ideal since my friend is a Muslim, but she still prefers it there to out on the street,) and NCVYS

What do you think are the barriers stopping young people from getting involved in decision-making on matters that affect their lives?
A lot of activities meant to involve young people bore them to death. We’re not always aware of chances to get involved. Maybe different Media would be good, such as texting or msn

How can adults support young people better to get involved in decision-making?
More fun. Clear visible outcomes. No Jargon etc.

Steven Pryse, Youth Development Officer, National Council Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS)

Why was ENVOY set up?
ENVOY was set up to help ensure that young people all over England could get together, share their knowledge and experiences and have their say on issues that affect them. As an infrastructure organisation for the voluntary and community sector NCVYS reaches a massive array of organisations, networks and young people. ENVOY was set up to bring all that experience together and generate practical ideas and projects to develop greater participation of young people across England.

What type of activities are you currently working on through ENVOY?
NCVYS has been awarded funding through the Big Lottery Young People’s Fund 2 to expand the work of ENVOY. We are now in the process of developing a business plan detailing exactly how we will do this. Young people are involved in developing the plan through an ENVOY steering group made up of 8 ENVOY members from all over England. At the end of February 25 ENVOY members will be attending a residential in the Lake District to help develop ideas for how ENVOY will develop over the next 5 years.

What future activities do you have coming up?
There will be more fun residential events, as well as chances to talk to other young people and participation workers at conferences. Young Londoners Fund work continues as well with young people involved with the board and with grant monitoring visits.

How do you recruit or advertise ENVOY to get young people involved?
Becoming and being an ENVOY member is a deliberately informal affair. There’s no application forms, all young people have to do is send an email address (or a contact address or phone number) to steven@ncvys.org.uk and they will start receiving the weekly update. As long as they have some level of interest in the voluntary youth sector they should find something to get their teeth into.

The ENVOY update is written by members with support from me and other members of staff. The update includes information about opportunities with ENVOY, NCVYS and the wider voluntary and community youth sector. Having a rolling membership ensures that even if young people can’t make it to a residential or other event they can still consider themselves part of ENVOY. This takes into account that young people might be having a particularly busy or difficult time due to exams or other stresses.

More details about ENVOY are available through the website and the group is advertised and promoted at a range of conferences and events by myself, other NCVYS members of staff and, most importantly, by existing ENVOY members by word of mouth!

How do you support ENVOY members to get involved in NCVYS’s decision-making processes?
ENVOY members have 2 places on the NCVYS trustee board and they are supported with this involvement through training and pre-board meetings as well as by mentors. ENVOY members aren’t just involved in the ‘youth participation’ side of things though. ENVOY members and myself work closely with other members of NCVYS staff to ensure that young people’s views and ideas are reflected and implemented right across the organisation. 

If you could give your top tip to organisations that want to get young people involved in decision making within their organisation what would it be?
Create as many different levels of access and opportunity as possible. Not all young people will want to be trustee board members, similarly not everyone will want to write a weekly bulletin or write a funding bid. Listen to what young people say they want to do, ask them what skills they have and be honest but ambitious about what’s achievable and support them to make it happen.

How has NCVYS changed as an organisation, through the participation of young people in ENVOY?
ENVOY members are often in the office, on the phone or on msn so it’s become second nature for all NCVYS staff to think about ways of involving them when planning an event, a project or a conference. This means we’re able to be fully responsive to what young people have got to say and have a staff team willing to support young people to put their ideas into practice. 

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB