Why it's important to involve young people in decision-making!

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In this blog Maliha - Chair of the Future Changemakers Fund - shares why, now more than ever, we should put young people at the heart of decision-making.

There is a stigma about young people – that we are too nonchalant about our futures and that we have no true ambition– when in fact, this is far from the truth. Having been part of the Future Changemakers, I am now more than ever convinced that young people truly want the opportunity to be involved in decision-making that will affect us. 

The Future Changemakers is a youth-led panel created by Camden Giving, as a response to the deaths of two young men who had been involved in knife crime. As part of the panel, we were given the opportunity to decide for ourselves, how we would like to use the funding we had been provided, in order to tackle youth crime in Camden. We as a panel, had decided that we’d like to fund youth programmes that met the objectives of educating young people in youth safety, drug abuse – and providing young people with relatable mentors.

The Future Changemakers was an opportunity for young people to take full control over the decisions in funding youth programmes – and we had taken to our roles and responsibilities with ease. Having understood the work that goes into youth programmes, as well as how the charity sector functions – we were better equipped with the knowledge we required in order to make positive changes. It felt amazing to see our ideas and decisions make real, visual changes to the lives of other young people.

I currently work as a young leader at Coram’s Fields Youth Centre and at the time of applying I thought that the experience was purely for my CV and that my interest in my community was simply a bonus – having been part of the Future Changemakers, my perspective has met a great deal of change. Talking to young people who live lives similar to mine – and coming up with solutions to issues that we face within our community was eye opening, and I now feel like I am truly part of my community and wish to continue contributing to it.

As Chair of the panel, it definitely felt daunting to have a large amount of responsibility, but I  was grateful for the opportunity to learn about the issues that other young people face in Camden. It was really refreshing to have understood the different situations that other youths live in, and the perspectives they have. It was definitely difficult to take into consideration, the different issues that we face and then coming up with solutions to prevent, and alleviate them, but I genuinely believe that the difficulty in such tasks are worth it. Although we had to spend some time thinking of plausible solutions to problems, the outcome is that in the long term, we will have funded projects that provide young people with the mental and social support that they need, and are deserving of.

Young people are increasingly portrayed in a negative light in the media, and with this comes an increased need - more now than ever, for young people to have a voice, and become involved in the decision making and programmes that directly affect us. Not only for the purpose of having a say, and exercising the right to participate in programmes that aim to help us – but to destroy the negative perception of young people that we continue to face decade, after decade. I only hope that more youth become involved in programmes like the Future Changemakers so that they can have a positive impact on their own futures.