Children and young people are willing to help ... All you need to do is ask and trust them to do it well ...
The Chelmsford Youth Participation Workshop
A group of Ministers, Lay Workers, Church Members and Young People attended a participation workshop recently, with the help of circuit youth coordinator David Songer. The workshop included a presentation on the Youth Participation Strategy, and discussion as to why participation is important, and how it can be implemented. I was amazed by the amount of people who attended, all keen to think through this important issue and what participation could look like in their own churches.
In one session, everyone was asked to write down what they saw as barriers to youth participation. Some of the potential issues that people identified were an unwillingness to change, churches having an ageing congregation, limited resources / volunteers and the potential cultural conflict and lack of understanding between generations.
Everyone was then asked to come up with some solutions to these barriers; here are some of them: -
- Children and Young people are willing to help, all you need to do is ask and trust them to do it well
- Have courage – barriers can be overcome - Explore differing views and ideas together
- Have a youth council that can bring their own ideas of what church could look like to Church Council and then feedback to other young people
- Anyone can do youth participation – it’s about getting generations together
- Ask the Children and Youth Team or District for advice about funding
- Give young people the tools they need to participate
- Ask young people what they are passionate about ... be a listening ear
- Change can be difficult for anyone of any age
- Pilot a different type of service planned by a group of young people and adults
We also played a game called the ‘Participation Pyramid’, to think through why participation is important. The top reasons people chose were:
- Participation gets everyone involved, rather than a select few, and reflects a Biblical model of community
- Youth Participation means we will meet real needs, rather than what we think young people need
- It’s how God treats us
- Young People (and adults!) will have the chance to learn how to balance their right to participate with their responsibility to work in partnership with others
- Young People who are supported to take part in decision making are more likely to see an increase in confidence and self-belief
- Effective participation increases inter-generational understanding and breaks down negative stereotypes
Many thanks to all who attended, their dedication to young people and their concern to take this issue of youth participation further.
If you have any questions about the Youth Participation Strategy, please contact Rachel Quinlan on 07929 503937 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks for reading!