Terrence Higgins Trust, South West Young Leader's Board (children and young people interview)

Participation Works interviewed Cecily, 15, Lauren, 19, Martyn, 16 and Aluarah, 18, from the South West Young Leader's Project Board.

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) Young Leaders project is a national peer-led, grant-giving, sex and relationships education project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund for three years. The project  is now in its third year. The Young Leaders have just launched the next grant round and are inviting groups of young people to apply for small grants to create and deliver their own sex and relationship education projects. Applications can be downloaded from the THT website and must be returned by the 25 October 2009.

The South West Young Leaders Board members travel from as far as Plymouth, Yeovil, Bournemouth, and Swindon to attend  their meetings every other Saturday in Bristol.  So far the South West Young Leaders Board have funded and supported 27 youth led projects in the region including the Hartcliffe peer education projectYoung Rainbows, Over the Rainbow Bournemouth and Weymouth and  DUK - Did You Know, YWCA England & Wales, Bristol.

Further information about the Young Leader’s project and the  South West Young Leader’s Board can be found on the THT website.

Lauren, 19 years old

Tell me about yourself?
I’m a 19 year old mum from Bristol. I work with the YWCA Bristol, Church work and I have a huge interest in sex and relationships education, sexual health and youth work.

Why did you decide to apply to become a member of the Young Leader’s project Board? How long have you been a board member?
I’ve been a board member since April. I decided to apply when my YWCA young mother’s group did a project with some schools on sex ed with money from Young Leaders. My leader asked if I would be interested and I was selected.

What type of activities have you been involved in as a member of the Young Leader’s Board?
Choosing which projects get the money we are giving and going on a residential where we met seven other regions.

Why do you think it is important that young people receive sex and relationships education from other young people?
Young people tend to listen more to their peers, therefore they are more likely to listen to a young person or a young leader, and if it gets the message across its worth it.

How have you been supported to manage the project in your area?
Our leaders support and manage what we can do. They let us make up our own minds and decisions but help us if we can’t quite understand something.

What do you feel you have gained from your experiences of being involved in the Young Leader’s project?
I have a wider knowledge of sex and relationship education (SRE) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) and I’ve made more friends.

Based on your experiences so far as a board member what are the key areas that young people want more advice on around sex and relationships in your region?
Sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and contraception. Contraception is a major problem as young people are listening to rumour and myth rather then actually getting the facts.

Do you feel that being a member of the Young Leader’s Board has helped you to influence decision makers and shape local sexual health services for young people in your area?
Yes, and I feel there is a lot more I can do.

Cecily, 15 years old
Tell me about yourself?
I am 15 and I live in Yeovil. I am female to male transgender and I go by my birth name Cecily and my male name Douglass. I am currently in year 11 at school.

Why did you decide to apply to become a member of the Young Leader’s project Board? How long have you been a board member?
I heard about young leaders at my lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth group when we were shown a presentation about it. I’ve been on the board since April.

What type of activities have you been involved in as a member of the Young Leader’s Board?
We had a residential in August where we met the other boards. It was very fun and a great experience meeting such a big diverse group of people.

Why do you think it is important that young people receive sex and relationships education from other young people?
Young people understand the young mind better then other people and I think that young people will listen better to other young people and take it more seriously.

What do you feel you have gained from your experiences of being involved in the Young Leader’s project?
I feel I am more confident and feel more comfortable with myself. I’ve learnt a lot about HIV and sexual health and there have been some things I learnt which have not been taught in my sex ed and should be.

What types of projects have you awarded funding to in your region?
We funded ‘Stop Teenage Ignorance’ and ‘Sexteen’ which had good ideas to give sexual health information to young people who didn’t get appropriate sex ed. The Bridge Learning Campus created a project where young people were going to be trained and teach other young people about sexual health; although we were unsure about the fact it was a child [youth led].

Based on your experiences so far as a board member what are the key areas that young people want more advice on around sex and relationships in your region?
I have found out that rural areas need the most advice about sex and relationships. People from rural areas have taught me about how there are no C-Card points and no information about being LGBT. This would make a young person feel isolated.

Do you feel that being a member of the Young Leader’s Board has helped you to influence decision makers and shape local sexual health services for young people in your area?
It’s made me stand up more. When I hear people talking about HIV and myths I have the courage to stand up and say ‘No, you’re wrong!’ I’ve started speaking to my school nurse about improving the sex ed in my school.

Martyn, 16 years old
Tell me about yourself?
My name is Martyn, I’m 16 years old and I have a red stripe going through my hair and got my top ear, lip and eye brow pierced. I’m going to six form to do forensic science and health and social care.

Why did you decide to apply to become a member of the Young Leader’s project Board? How long have you been a board member?
To get involved in services that are provided for young people and to get more life experiences. I’ve been a board member since April.

What type of activities have you been involved in as a member of the Young Leader’s Board?
We have chosen which projects to give funding to.

Why do you think it is important that young people receive sex and relationships education from other young people?
To get SRE out to more young people to lower the STI rate through use of contraception.

How have you been supported to manage the project in your area?
Telling people and answering their questions on sex and relationships.

What do you feel you have gained from your experiences of being involved in the Young Leader’s project?
A lot MORE about sex and relationships.

What types of projects have you awarded funding to in your region?
Sex ed DVD’s, Schools projects like Stop Teen Ignorance  and community projects like the Malcolm X centre in Bristol.

Based on your experiences so far as a board member what are the key areas that young people want more advice on around sex and relationships in your region?
Contraception and how things work.

Do you feel that being a member of the Young Leader’s Board has helped you to influence decision makers and shape local sexual health services for young people in your area?
As a group, yes a lot but not much in the local area where I live.

Aluarah, 18 years old
Tell me about yourself?
I am Aluarah. I am 18 years old and have just enrolled at College to study foundation art and design.

Why did you decide to apply to become a member of the Young Leader’s project Board? How long have you been a board member?
I decided to apply as I like learning and thought it would be interesting.

What type of activities have you been involved in as a member of the Young Leader’s Board?
Residential and giving grants

Why do you think it is important that young people receive sex and relationships education from other young people?
Young people may trust other young people more and feel less patronised.

What do you feel you have gained from your experiences of being involved in the Young Leader’s project?
I have met lots of new people and got more confident within myself. I have learnt a lot as well.

What types of projects have you awarded funding to in your region?
Sexteen
Hartcliffe peer education project
Stop Teen Ignorance

Based on your experiences so far as a board member what are the key areas that young people want more advice on around sex and relationships in your region?
Gay Marriage

Do you feel that being a member of the Young Leader’s Board has helped you to influence decision makers and shape local sexual health services for young people in your area?
I haven’t seen them but I know there have been positive changes.

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