Young people represent our new service at the first ever Youth Conference hosted by the Mayor of West Yorkshire!

On Monday 19th February, three young adults showcased the volunteering opportunities Fresh Futures’ young adults service has to offer at West Yorkshire’s first Youth Conference. Organised by the Youth Advisory Group and held at Greenhead College, the event was a triumphant call for organisations across the county to champion the voices of young people.

The Mayor for West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, gave a rousing welcome to the attendees, many of whom were young adults representing organisations intent on empowering youth voices. Also in attendance were colleagues from West Yorkshire Police, members of the councils and creatives, who all shared the common goal of valuing thoughts and ideas from young adults.

Guest speakers delivered a variety of engaging performances and speeches, evidencing how they value lived experience and encourage young people to flourish. Soundproof Box CIC gave a thought-provoking performance which aims to eliminate patterns of abuse through supporting survivors and reminding society to call-out unwanted behaviour. During the Red Flags Interactive Theatre monologue, the audience was encouraged to wave red flags whenever we felt like threatening behaviour was being displayed.

Activist Marvina Newton gave a powerful talk about the journey toward racial trauma informed care through utilising healing and empowerment. She raised awareness of the presence of social privileges through facilitating the Privilege Walk exercise. Participants were encouraged to take a step forwards or backwards depending on their reactions to statements, for example, Marvina said:

if you find it difficult to find make-up for your skin complexion or a hairdressers in your community, take one step back.

Three members of the audience participated in the Privilege Walk, including our very own Zay Alabi (pictured, centre)! Marvina gave Zay a platform to speak openly about their experiences of prejudice and Zay’s words were an impactful reminder of the need advocate for marginalised identities with empathy and compassion.

Samuel, Zay and Nathan (pictured, left to right) networked with members of the public, holding meaningful conversations about how the new service helps young people build their confidence and self-esteem. They also actively participated in workshop discussions across the themes of serious violence, drugs and alcohol, anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls.

Zay said:

It was a fascinating and eye-opening experience.

Nathan found the conference:

very useful in case I was ever to come across a dangerous situation.

Samuel said:

I found the youth conference interesting and informative. I learned how local administration is working with and for the people to make a positive change and how the police are trying to work in a friendly environment. I opted for the crime against women workshop session. I found that session eye opening and the measures that were being taken by the Mayor and team members were worth praising. I think it’s a positive thing that the mayor’s team were noting down the feedback from the session.

Alice Lowe OBE, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime closed the evening by sharing her appreciation for the first West Yorkshire Youth Conference. She spoke of the importance of listening to young adults’ experiences s to understand how we can improve lives across the county.

Thank you so much to Samuel, Zay and Nathan for their contributions and for giving up their time to promote the young adults service. We are grateful to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority for including us in such a momentous occasion for the youth of West Yorkshire!