When young people ask the questions...
Youth insights and solutions from the peer action collective.
The Peer Action Collective (PAC) is a ground-breaking network of Peer Researchers and Changemakers. Young people are in charge of asking questions and finding out what needs to happen to make their area a better and safer place to live in – and then turning that research into social action.
In the last 2-3 years these young researchers have been looking at young people's experience of violence. In response they made the following national recommendations:
1. ‘We want you to deal with the small stuff.’
Young people want to see us stop ignoring ‘low level’ bullying and homophobic, racist and sexist remarks online or in-person.
2. ‘We need access to and knowledge of opportunities that are accessible to us.’
The cost-of-living crisis has only increased the urgency of needing access to meaningful employment.
3. ‘More youth friendly spaces would contribute to how safe we feel.’
Having access to appropriate physical space contributed to how safe young people feel. Young people need more places to go where they are not competing for space and are supported by adults that they trust.
4. ‘Schools need to feel like safe spaces and should help prevent violence.’
Young people want their education system to help build a more tolerant society and prevent violence early on.
5. ‘Mental health support should be easy to access.’
Young people need access to mental health services that are responsive and offer early intervention.
6.’Young people should feel safe online.’
Young people want to feel safe and protected, especially on social media. They want to know that they can report inappropriate content and it will be managed appropriately and quickly.
7.‘We need you to consider the inequalities and lived experiences of young people to find solutions to youth violence.’
Young people’s identities shape the way they experience youth violence and inequalities and must be recognised when working to reduce it.
8.‘Young people should be partners in developing solutions to change’
Engagement needs to be genuine, with a commitment to implementing change.
In Ipswich, Peer Researchers from Volunteering Matters decided to conduct research across two different topics in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. They looked at LGBTQ+ experiences of violence, and causes of youth violence. They found that young people locally wanted to see LGBTQ+ relationships and sex education improved, and for physical attacks and hate speech against LGBTQ+ young people to be taken more seriously by the relevant authorities. Locally, young people felt that a lack of safe spaces to socialise with their peers, feeling powerless to enact political and institutional change, poverty and social media were the main causes of youth violence.
The Changemakers from Volunteering Matters have been developing a podcast "Teenage Talks" and an Exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. You can read the full national report below, with the local case study on pages 22-24.
"There’s not a lot of after school clubs anymore, but when I was at school, I was doing something every day... I couldn’t really mess with my friends to say let’s go do this because my friends were already at the club with me or we were playing basketball, playing football, playing table tennis, there was something going on every day" (Anthony, 22, M, Ipswich).