A Weekend Full of Ideas

The Youth Advisory Panel Chair, Carl, writes about their first residential weekend.

First you think it (Inspire), then you say it (Explain), and finally you bring it to life (Create)…

In November, when we chose Participation People as the organisation to work alongside Spirit as a delivery partner for the youth panel, who knew the application and recruitment phase would have flown by so quickly? I still remember the day Spirit's Chief Exec, Debbie, took me to meet with Sue Campbell as an ‘informal’ interview, familiar emotions ran through my body in preparation for this weekend. Nervous, excited, anxious with a mix of butterflies in my stomach!

Little did I know that upon meeting such a confident and inspiring team, the interactions shared would be so genuine and natural. On a breezy Friday night in Wandsworth, 12 youth leaders sat conversing inside Chime Changas Mexican restaurant for hours, you would never have thought that it was the first time they had met. A clear sign of things to come….

We kicked the Saturday morning off with a wonderful session of yoga, this really illustrated the exuberant, fun and personal approach Participation People take to their work in youth development.

Saturday was filled with activities and workshops, giving us the opportunity to get a better understanding of why we are here, what our role is as a youth panel and how we fit into the fabric of Spirit as an organisation. It was great to have Chief Exec, Debbie Lye, and Director of Policy & Research, Ruth Hollis, there to give us an intro to the Spirit story and how they got the organisation to where it is today. Debbie incorporated an interview with myself as Chair into her session to give the group a better idea of my background, how I got involved, what the purpose of the panel was and some questions from the panel.

This was my opportunity to highlight the importance of why we were here, from regions across the UK, to come together for five main purposes:

  1. To be champions of an amazing organisation that is Investing in Happiness for people across all walks of life
  2. To build, use and create new connections on a personal note, for the youth panel and also for the organisation
  3. To advise the board on youth issues and give guidance on how Spirit can impact the lives of many young people across the UK
  4. £47m sounds like a lot of money, until you put it into context of how many people there actually are in this country, that’s why it’s even more important that we contribute to funding decisions and act as a voice for young people and the issues they face in their communities
  5. Lastly, to empower ourselves. To use this opportunity to develop as individuals and as team players that will allow us to continue playing a part in our communities for a long time

After some discussion about what to expect from the two years, making a very creative team flag, and taking part in some innovative networking and communication workshops, Saturday evening ended with a super cool treasure hunt around Wandsworth and dinner at Pizza Express. 

Sunday gave us the opportunity to get into more strategic work with Harris, around Spirit's Theory of Change, which he managed to make very interactive and fun! We then finished off discussing our development whilst on the panel, what we would like to achieve and how this ties in with the work of Spirit.  

By Sunday evening it was clear to see that with all of our different networks combined, the youth panel can truly act as a mechanism for young people to be a part of an innovative and impactful organisation. The group have a range of experiences from sports to arts and student councils to social enterprises. We bring an array of skills and qualities that will make the next two years very exciting.  

As part of what I can already say is a great team, we look forward to the exciting times ahead and the Spirit of 2012 Youth Panel is ready to #InvestInHappiness