The second Young Advisor residential was a fantastic chance to evaluate recommendations to increase the levels of youth voice and participation, build activities that are meaningful to young people and celebrate the way in which young people are at the heart of The Diana Award.
The second residential, taking place from 14th – 16th July, marked the next chapter of the Young Advisors project, and provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our progress so far, but to also aim toward making tangible changes towards the youth focus at The Diana Award (TDA). This weekend was a chance to network, build friendships and critically evaluate the recommendations produced by Young Advisors over the past year.
Beginning the weekend with a lovely meal in Waterloo, the Young Advisors were able to socialise and greet each other, before participating in a quiz later that evening. This was a light-hearted chance for the Young Advisors to further build friendships and have fun before the project work in the morning.
Saturday began with the Young Advisors and Young Changemakers facilitators gathering to participate in some icebreakers; a set of fun activities to begin the weekend on a fun note. The Young Advisors were also given the opportunity to discuss some ground rules for the residential - within this conversation, many discussed the feelings that they hoped would be associated with the project, such as accomplishment and a sense of community within the team. Two Young Advisors then confidently facilitated the first activity which followed the “hot air balloon” model to maximise the “lift-off” of the project. During this discussion, the barriers to the project were mentioned, as well as the necessities of the project and how the project can flourish.
Following this, the Young Advisors worked collaboratively to evaluate the recommendations established over the past year. Then we had the chance to put the recommendations into practice by categorising potential activities that TDA could implement whilst ensuring that they were linked to the recommendations. This, therefore, meant that the recommendations and consequential activities would be youth centred, relevant and impactful to the young people that TDA engages with.
After a few more fun and energising activities, which were important to maintain the group’s morale, we decided to evaluate the timeline of the afternoon activities to ensure the recommendations could be effectively discussed and implemented. This prioritisation was vital to ensure that young people could gain the most impact out of the chosen activities, and we were even taught the very useful MoSCoW technique. This allowed the team to think critically about the purpose of suggested activities and gain an understanding of how they should be prioritised.
“It is important to discuss our initial areas of focus to ensure that we can begin creating positive change.” – Gracie, Young Advisor
Saturday ended with an amazing cruise down the river Thames, learning a lot about the historic city of London before enjoying a delicious pizza, giving us a further chance to network and relax after a busy day.
Sunday focused on the implementation of our ideas from the previous day, working directly with TDA staff who joined us for the day and gave us the opportunity to raise our ideas and start a conversation.
The day started with another icebreaker, ensuring Young Advisors and TDA staff could commence the day on equal footing and ensure the establishment of a space for free-flowing conversations.
Following this, we had the chance to speak in small groups or individually with relevant TDA staff to our interests and discuss their experiences, as well as discuss some recommendations from an outside point of view. This served as a chance for Young Advisors to gain an insight into the potential barriers to our ideas, but also demonstrated to all the Young Advisors the determination and passion of staff to improve the experiences of young people. Simultaneously, several Young Advisors participated in an interview for TDA's social media, which was useful as they could comment on the aims and progress of the project. The afternoon was a great chance to reflect on the discussions and the weekend with staff and further underlined the mutual passion that everyone had for the project.
Ultimately, the weekend was a fantastic opportunity for young people and staff to network and understand one another’s experiences to work toward creating activities for young people. The weekend was a fantastic success and has guided everyone toward a path of creating collaborative, youth-focused change that has measurable impact on the experiences of young people. Before setting off to the train station, Young Advisors were then crowned with their celebratory appreciation jars (which were crafted by the team over the weekend) and were granted their 15 AQA Unit Award Scheme certifications for their dedication over the past year.
Find out more about The Diana Award Young Advisors project here: https://diana-award.org.uk/our-programmes-and-initiatives/cross-directorate-initiatives/young-advisors