How can we talk about young people without including young people?

My career since my first ‘proper’ job has involved working alongside younger people; from a part-time youth worker (I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to drink cups of tea and chat to really fun people!), to a sports & youth development worker, to a BTEC college lecturer, a pastoral manager and now a wellbeing coach.



My career since my first ‘proper’ job has involved working alongside younger people; from a part-time youth worker (I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to drink cups of tea and chat to really fun people!), to a sports & youth development worker, to a BTEC college lecturer, a pastoral manager and now a wellbeing coach.



All the way along this journey, people have made comments about how they don’t know how to ‘work with’ young people, or ‘speak to’ young people, or ‘understand’ young people…. Well, young people are just, ummmm, younger PEOPLE.


We already know how to work with them because we are all people.

But we can often think ourselves into believing it is more complicated than that!


I have just finished a programme working with people aged 11 to 15 in a school in Exeter. Opportunities arose where I wasn’t able to articulate what I was trying to say – but someone else in the group always could. Let’s use the voice of younger people to enhance or drive home the message we want to share.


Speaking to the pupils from St Peter’s School, they jumped at the chance to be involved. They plan to paint faces with festival glitter and talk to people about the importance of deep listening to our younger folk. We are meeting tomorrow to plan the event and their enthusiasm is infectious!


When the organisers asked me what I plan to talk about at this event – there was only one answer that came to me: if you want to develop local opportunities for local young people and their wellbeing, it is best to ask these local young people what it is they want.


Will I be speaking at Wellfest on my own? No way. I will have half a dozen other younger voices there with me. All with something very important they’d like to say.