Involve Young People

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Self-care and staying stress-free

Sometimes it can be hard to stay focused on involving young people, particularly if it feels like outcomes are talking a while to happen. Be patient, keep focused and build supportive relationships. Stay stress free by looking after yourself and the people around you.
Be patient – it’s a marathon not a sprint! :)

Projects, events and activities that involve young people can take time to plan, happen and evaluate. You may not see the results you want for a while, so you need to be prepared to wait and keep working.

Stay focused

Have a clear purpose for what you're trying to achieve. Make sure everyone involved - colleagues or team-members and the young people you're wrorking with - understands what they are doing and why it’s important. Setting aims and objectives will help you do this. Including a range of short and long term goals will help make sure there are lots of small victories to celebrate along the way (see below)! Start work early to find any funding you might need to meet your long-term goals.

Build supportive relationships

Build links with other organisations so you can access their experience and knowledge. Other people and groups will have experienced what you’re going through. Find them and ask them what they learned and what advice or skills they recommend. Remember that your local youth service can help.

Look after your crew

Acknowledge the other people you work with and show you value their input and efforts. Offer support and positive feedback, especially to those people who seem a bit quiet or down. Keep tasks and responsibilities spread around, so everyone has stuff to do (but not too much!). If you think someone is getting too tense or anxious, try these tips for how to help a stressed-out friend.

Learn how SYN support their young volunteers:

Welcome and support new members

If you're running a group for young people, it’s important that new members feel as welcomed and valued as existing members. New people will bring fresh ideas and perspectives, so encourage members to bring their friends – this will also help build people’s confidence. Having a varied group of young people – with different ages, cultural backgrounds, skills or abilities – will bring different ideas and experiences to help you chill out or solve problems.

Dealing with arguments

A situation could arise where you get angry or frustrated with someone you’re working with. Or other people in a group or team might have conflicts with each other. If this happens, try and improve the situation by:

  • talking with the other person, or encouraging the people in conflict to talk with each other – people won’t change their behaviour if they don’t know it’s bothering anyone;
  • be clear (or ask them to be clear) about what they think the problem is – ask them to do this in a calm, objective manner and focus on the problem and not the person;
  • work at going forward, not blaming people for past problems – suggest how you would like to resolve the situation, and ask for others’ suggestions; and
  • agree on what you will do to make sure things happen differently in the future.

You can use the YACVic's Code of Ethical Practice to guide you in your decision making and in how you resoind to issues with colleagues.

Have a plan B

Things don’t always go to plan, so it’s important to have backup – a plan B! Sometimes you can turn set-backs to your advantage, so think creatively about how you can make the most of any situation that comes up.

Look after yourself

Staying focused and building relationships is a lot easier if you’re looking after yourself properly. Exercising regularly, eating well and getting enough sleep will all help to look after your body and mind.

When things get tough it’s good to have someone to talk with, so keep in touch with family and friends. Make time each week to do special things for you, that aren’t related to your project, group or campaign. Hang out with loved ones, visit new places or treat yourself to a special meal, gig or film.

Recognise that it’s okay to put things on hold if you need to – a happy life always comes first!

Celebrate the journey

Seeing results is a great way to motivate yourself and others. Recognising achievements, even if they are small, will remind everyone involved why they are committing their time and energy. So make time for celebrating the journey and the small wins along the way as your project or campaign builds momentum.

Ask for help

If you’re feeling pressured, anxious or fed up, you can access free information from Beyond Blue.

Other places that you can ask for help are:

  • Lifeline (13 11 14) –free and confidential crisis support, available 24 hours a day.
  • the Victorian Human Rights Commission – free help to resolve complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and racial or religious vilification.

British Youth Council (BYC) (2011), Youth at the Table: What skills do I need to be great at governance?, London: BYC.

Ricketts, A. (2012), The Activists' Handbook: A step-by-step guide to participatory democracy, London: Zed Books.

YACVic (2004), Taking Young People Seriously: Creating Change in Your Community, Melbourne: YACVic and the Victorian Government.

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