Power handed to the young people at a youth-led conference

East Sussex County Council handed the power to young people at a day-long conference and asked them to highlight what was important in their communities.

Solomon Curtis, a member UK Youth Parliament, at Inspire Youth Conference

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the different ways young people are involved in the County, to learn about projects and activities happening at a local and county-wide level and to find out what issues are important to them.

The task of planning and running the event was handed to a group of young people by the County Council’s Equality and Participation Team in a bid to make it more relevant and engaging for their peers.

“This approach certainly worked with 100% of delegates feeding back that they agreed with young people designing and running the Youth Conference,” said Bev Carter, Participation Manager for East Sussex County Council Children’s Services.

“We set up a youth conference planning team and young people were involved in every aspect of the planning, from compering, running workshops and helping with technical support for the day.”

Comments from young people who attended included:

  • I’m going to take all the inspiration from today back to my school council in order to make changes in our school.
  • It was really fun, I liked giving my opinion. It was epic
  • Loved the Big Debate workshop, it was thought provoking and I want to set up debating in my school.

A total of 140 young people from 13 schools and 16 youth groups took part in the day, which included a Big Debate with topics for discussion chosen by the young people themselves.

Guest speaker for the event was Jamie Davies, a previous member of the UK Youth Parliament for East Sussex, who spoke about his experiences of campaigning and helping to improve services for young people.

An artist sketched cartoons of the day’s proceedings, while a graffiti wall gave those attending space to write messages about the day. Tweets about the event were displayed on a screen throughout the conference and lunch was accompanied by live music performed by young singers.

Young people discussed activities and campaigns they are involved with in their communities and ways in which services and activities should be improved. These ideas were written on paper leaves and attached to wooden sculpture

“’Many young people and adults commented that the day was a great success as it was truly youth-led, was creative and had a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere,” Bev added.

“We were pleased to see a real diversity of young people coming together and hope that others can get involved and feel inspired by watching a recording of the day. We hope to invite young people to help organise next year’s conference.”

A film has been made to capture the day and views and ideas shared by young people. For further information about the conference, which took place on Tuesday 26 March, and film please contact the Equality and Participation team on 01273 335250.