“It may be disturbing, it may be overstated, but it is something we need to listen to.”
Some very honest, some very brave young people from the Valleys have made a film about their experiences and their challenges growing up in 2015. I found it disturbing and I found it moving. They have some important things to say if we listen. Ultimately I found it inspiring. These are young people who know the score. They know what they face and the challenges their friends face and they know what they want to do. They want to change. They want the opportunity to contribute. They want to be valued and for their opinions to be valued. But they need support to get where they want to be.
That support is being decimated by the cuts to Local Authority funding and the reduction in support for young people in vulnerable communities. This will inevitable result in greater expense later, be it through social care or prison and in the meantime it will destroy the life chances for some of our most vulnerable young people.
Too often services for young people focus on what we, as adults want. We offer ‘learning’ and ‘education’ and insist that the young people gain a qualification. The young people vote with their feet and those most in need of support steer clear of formal settings.
We need to listen and value their opinions. We need to provide Information and support. We also need to challenge and provide alternatives to the sub-culture of the street.
So do me a favor and do the young people a favor. Give them 10 minutes and listen to what they have to say.
Let me know what you think and I’ll share your comments with the young people and please pass it on by forwarding this link to anyone who may be interested or you think should see the film.
I would like to thank the production team at ‘Like an Egg’ who made the film with the young people. They did a remarkable job of getting the young people to talk openly and candidly about their lives.
I’d like to thank the staff at Valleys kids who gain the trust of many vulnerable young people and give them the support they need to change their behaviour and their circumstances, but ultimately it is only the young people themselves that can make the changes. We can’t change them; we can only help them to change themselves.
I would like to thank the young people for their insight, their honesty and their remarkable bravery in sharing their experience so that we can all learn from them.
They want to build a better future and if we want to help, first we have to listen to them.