OPINION: NSPCC puts teenagers at heart of decision making

NSPCC east of England Young People’s Board for Change members Cameron, left, and Will

NSPCC east of England Young People’s Board for Change members Cameron, left, and Will - Credit: NSPCC

Since the pandemic began we know that children across the UK have struggled with uncertain changes, isolation and in some cases abuse.

This has understandably impacted their mental health and resulted in our Childline counsellors delivering over 61,000 counselling sessions on this issue alone since March 2020.

We have worked tirelessly to ensure that this generation of children and young people do not become the 'Covid generation’ and we know that children can be very resilient if help comes early.

We want the voices of this generation to be heard and that is why we have assembled the Young Peoples Board for Change.

The group has been launched to give young people the chance to shape and influence our work - and is a vital part of the NSPCC’s commitment to ensuring they are right at the heart of its decision making.

We have recruited 15 young people aged between 13-16 years old from across the UK, including two in the east of England.

Many of our members are already active in their local communities and are making positive changes, but like the NSPCC they want to do more to help children and young people everywhere.

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Will (15) and Cameron (13) are our two board members from the East of England and they were selected from over 300 applications.

Cameron is an enthusiastic Emergency Services Cadet and is keen to work with young people from different backgrounds while learning new skills along the way.

Will is passionate about helping others with their mental health struggles and is eager to begin his work on helping to create an environment where all young people regardless of gender, sexuality or race have equal and fair chances to make their way in the world and to always feel safe.

Their roles will see them raise awareness of what matters most to young people, and they will be able to take action and influence change, including having a key role advising staff and trustee members.

It’s an exciting time for the newly-formed board as members will now take part in new experiences and opportunities, meet other young people, whilst developing their own confidence and learn life-long new skills, such as campaigning and public speaking.

Their positions will last for two years and members will have lots of opportunity to share what’s important to them, take part in residentials, meetings, workshops and more.

Recently, the NSPCC appointed Ife Grillo, 22, and Sheanna Patelmaster, 24, as trustees with a specialist focus on working with and supporting the Young People’s Board for Change and the recruitment of the board is the next stage of an important journey to better represent young people’s views and include them in the charity’s work.  

This comes at a vital time where our Childline service has become incredibly busy due to the struggles many children and young people has suffered throughout the pandemic.

Our board will play a key intricate role in the future of our work as it is essential that young people’s voices are represented.

In fact, we have been calling on the government to put young people at the centre of its recovery plans and therefore the voices, views and experiences of young people must be listened to, especially after everything that has happened during this pandemic.

We know that many children and young people have struggled throughout this pandemic and we urge anyone who is needs help to speak to one of our trained Childline counsellors on 0800 1111 or contact us online at www.childline.org.uk

We also know that adults have been worried about children, if you’re an adult concerned about the wellbeing of a child you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice and further assistance.