We’ll get more things right if we listen to young people

Mancroft Advice Project chief executive Dan Mobbs (Picture: Nick Butcher)

Mancroft Advice Project chief executive Dan Mobbs (Picture: Nick Butcher) - Credit: Nick Butcher

Whatever anyone does or doesn't do today will make a difference to all our futures.

It could be the big decisions our political leaders make about our economy or health services or smaller, everyday decisions we might make about whether to use the recycling bin or walk to work instead of driving.

The impact of our decisions will be most felt by young people.

Young people will become the decision makers, the politicians, the carers, the professionals and the business leaders.

We will all be relying on them. And soon. So it makes no sense whatsoever to not listen to what they have to say and take their advice.

The benefits are so clear. We'll get more things right. Young people know more than anyone else about what affects them and what they need to make the most of their future.

If they have a say about the services they use, the support they need, the opportunities they can take, things will be better and they will be more able, stronger, and better placed.

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If we don't listen to or involve young people things can go wrong. This can be as simple as investing in services or activities young people don't want and don't use. It can also be disastrous.

The investigation into the sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham found that concerns from young victims were systematically ignored. This is a problem – we end up holding young people responsible whilst not giving them any power.

This might be in school or health services. We can tell them what they've got to do and not give them any choice about it. Then we wonder why it's not working out.

It also makes no sense not to invest in the support young people need. They tell us they need more support around mental health, careers, and healthy activities. We all understand that investing in our future makes sense. If young people get the support they need they are more likely to meet their potential, be ready for adult life and be able to contribute. Why wouldn't we want this to happen? Yet in Norfolk we spend less than 1% of health and social care funding on young people's mental health services. Things need to change. Our future is at stake.

MAP is very proud to support young people's take-over of the EDP. We are very grateful to David and his team. They have been very welcoming and supportive. In the age of fake news and reality TV it is so refreshing to work with journalists with a keen commitment to their local community. The EDP is very much the people's paper today.

MAP has supported young people in Norfolk for over 25 years, seeing young people overcome big challenges; be that poverty, mental health or educational difficulties. We have seen young people grow in confidence, go on to successful careers and have their own families. Throughout this time we have relied on many supporters. This has included individuals who have cycled to Paris, baked cakes or even ran marathons in deserts. They have found their own challenges to overcome to support young people. To find out more about MAP or how to support us or donate to our work have a look at our website – www.map.uk.net. We really appreciate the support we get from local people who believe, like we do, that we need to create the best possible future for the people growing up in our community.

When you are reading the paper today perhaps think about how you might feel as a young person today. Maybe you are excited. Maybe you are nervous. One thing is clear though – you don't know what life may hold. Let's all make a commitment to making it as good as it can be.

Finally, I think you will agree, when you read the articles in today's paper, see the talents young people have and their positive can-do attitudes, you will agree that our future is in safe hands.

Dan Mobbs is chief executive of the Mancoft Advice Project, which works with young people across Norfolk.

The Young People's Takeover is in association with The Inspiration Trust.

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