A body designed to give young people in North Yorkshire a voice, has pledged to equip them with the skills to identify bullying and raise awareness of how to address it.
The Youth Voice Conference took place at the Pavilions of Harrogate recently, which was open to primary and secondary pupils and young people’s groups in North Yorkshire.
The aim of the annual conference is to inform young people about issues affecting them and allow them to put their views to policy-makers and organisations which make decisions on their behalf.
At this year’s conference young people voted for the Youth Voice Executive to campaign on bullying; how to spot it, what to do if it’s happening to you and what support should be available, as well as the emotional impact and the effect on mental and physical health.
The Youth Voice Executive is an elected group of young people who meet with senior managers and decision-makers in North Yorkshire four times a year to put forward their viewpoints and raise any concerns.
Aimee Walker, vice chair of the Youth Voice Executive and a pupil at Boroughbridge High School, said:
Bullying has always been an issue for young people. It’s changed forms recently with social media enabling it to happen more outside school, but it is an issue being talked about more and it’s important to make sure we keep talking about it.
If you leave everything up to adults it doesn’t necessarily equip you to deal with bullying when you enter the world of work.
One of the aims of the campaign will be how to identify bullying. We need to raise awareness generally.
About 240 people attended the conference, held in Harrogate on March 22, where there was also an opportunity for pupils in North Yorkshire to attend workshops and talks by organisations including North Yorkshire Police, the LGBT rights charity Stonewall and hear a presentation by the Young People’s Council, made up of young people who have experienced care in North Yorkshire.
Other workshops looked at keeping healthy and safe relationships, celebrating difference and safeguarding developments for using social media.
Students were also able to attend a Question and Answer session with senior leaders and managers from North Yorkshire with responsibilities for young people’s services.
They included Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, who also sits on the Ministerial Sounding Board for children’s services and Dr Maggie Atkinson, chair of North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s and Young People’s Services, said:
We’ve had some very positive feedback from this conference; one school has reported its students have been inspired to start a diversity group, another that they will be introducing a Box of Positivity after visiting the Child and Adolescent Mental Health stall. It also helps schools learn about some of the services and charity support they can access.
Importantly, events like this provide a great opportunity to empower young people, giving them a voice and a means of influencing decisions which will impact their lives.