‘The World Outside is Beautiful…’

One of our charity partners supports children experiencing a bereavement. This quote was reported to me by their youth worker who had recently finished a youth session. The young person they were supporting had been so caught up in dealing with the challenges they were facing that they hadn’t looked out of the window for a while. The support that the youth worker gave them allowed them a chance to see outside their situation.

We all need an opportunity to step outside the hectic nature of everyday and take a wider perspective.

Our annual partners’ meeting – where we bring together the charities we fund for a day of shared learning and collaboration – offers a breathing space for some of our charity partners to do just this. We held our third annual meeting recently in the beautiful surroundings of Winchester Cathedral and welcomed 40 youth sector charity leaders from across the SE region.

There was lots to discuss. The changing nature of civil society means there are more and different challenges for young people coming over the next 10 years. We pooled our thoughts on how the youth sector will need to adapt to address the changing landscape.

Rhiannon White, Artistic Director of Common Wealth Theatre and a member of the independent Inquiry into Civil Society asked us to consider our own personal experience as a starting point and challenged us to think about what we wanted for civil society. Our discussions from the day will directly feed into the Inquiry as evidence for Julia Unwin’s review on the future of civil society.

Young people from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Youth Commission told us that what young people want isn’t always what adults think they need. They told us about the priorities they themselves had identified that needed to change in their area, and what they are doing to address them.

Charlotte Ravenscroft of Evidential Consulting gave an overview of the ten trends – economic, political and social – likely to affect charities in the coming 10 years and asked us to think about what we can do to embrace and react to them. Billy Dann from Comic Relief talked about the way technology is changing young people’s ability to communicate and find out information and the possibilities this presents. The (Youth) Chair of the British Youth Council, David Crone, challenged us to think about whether the time has come for charities and young people to be more political.

In the wide ranging discussion that followed we talked about what opportunities there are here in the South East for youth charities in particular. All are facing difficulties stemming from limits on capacity, knowledge and time, but the consensus was that by collaborating together we can reach out to more young people and, importantly, put them in the driving seat of change. Young people attending the day were clear that it is essential that services listen to their views, and respond to what they have to say.

Asking such big questions is difficult work. We all felt brain ache by the end of the day! But there was common agreement: without asking these big questions, we won’t find the answers. We won’t see what lies just outside our windows.

1st November 2017