Youth Discussion Forum –

This project was funded by the Active Citizens Fund administered by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner. 

What is it and who is it for?

In 2017-18 we were funded to develop, establish, run and facilitate a Forum for young people across the city of Wolverhampton.

What we did

We developed a Forum for young people in Wolverhampton which would provide 16 to 25 year olds with the opportunity to get together to identify and explore issues which were important to them and other young people in the city. It would also, with our help, give them the chance to put their views forward to local politicians and organisations such as the City of Wolverhampton Council and West Midlands Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

We worked with more than 300 young people in 2017/2018.

We had already recruited a core group of ten young people from our youth engagement events for the Police in late 2016. These became ambassadors for the Youth Discussion Forum (YDF), taking every opportunity to spread the word about the Forum and bringing onboard other young people.

We also reached out to other youth organisations in the city to promote the Forum as well as a promotional campaign using Facebook, Twitter and posters in local community buildings.

We held a seminar with Year 13 pupils at the West Midlands UTC, University Technical College, in Wolverhampton to explain the concept of Youth Discussion Forums and for them to help set some of the founding principles for the YDF i.e. form and function, operating principles, getting involved and the type of issues for consideration. The outcomes of this seminar put in place the foundations for the ongoing YDF activities from 2016 to 2020. i.e. work with young people where they go rather than expecting them to come to events in the city centre, getting stakeholders to come to them to listen to their ideas, in their own words, giving young people opportunities they would not normally have etc.

We also held 2 focus groups with pupils from UTC to explore in more detail the issues identified during the seminar. In particular, isolation and mental health due to increasing use of social media and the internet and the changing nature of Year 7 intakes.

During the year we held eight events in local areas with young people. For three of those events we invited each local MP, Pat McFadden, Emma Reynolds and Eleanor Smith, and Police Officers local to those areas to come along and listen to the concerns of their young constituents. The young people identified a range of issues which were important to them and wanted changes made, these included:- housing, education, health provision, the benefits system, local politics, appropriate leisure provision for young people etc.

One of the outcomes of the YDF event with Eleanor Smith MP was an invitation to the Houses of Parliament which took place in October 2017. The visit provided opportunities to see the building in use, learn something of the history of the place, see MPs in action and understand that as voters they can hold their local MP to account for changes required in their localities. Eleanor Smith gave an undertaking to share the issues raised during the session at the Houses of Parliament with the other Wolverhampton MPs and respond directly to some of the young people on some of their specific issues.