Celebrating the #DayofHopeUK with the Young Advocates

The Young Advocates project supports young people between 14-20 with youth justice experience to become representatives for children and young people across the country as ‘Young Advocates’ for youth justice improvement. The project is generously funded by Children in Need and in partnership with Leaders Unlocked.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the tragic killing of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, the Damilola Taylor Trust set up the #Hope2020 campaign, to encourage the sharing and recognition of the hopes of young people in the UK. The 7th December 2020 was also established as the first national ‘Day of Hope’ on Damilola’s birthday, to celebrate the hopes of young people from here on in.

We believed the #DayOfHope was a perfect opportunity for the Young Advocates to share their inspiring progress and reflections, in their first presentation to a group of SCYJ members and experts from the youth justice sector. The Young Advocates have been meeting in their own time with SCYJ, Leaders Unlocked and the Young Adult Advisors to discuss the priority youth justice issues that they will focus on throughout the project. In a virtual meeting, the Young Advocates presented their priority areas on the #DayOfHope to 20 youth justice experts, which is no mean feat for even the most experienced Zoomer!

In the presentation, the Young Advocates all introduced themselves and shared their motivations for joining the project as well as their experience of the project so far. This included their personal connections to the issues at hand, and the greater sense of purpose that has come through working on the project, especially during the lockdown period. The Young Advocates then shared details of why they picked the priority areas of stereotyping, education and warning signs, and jail, and what they intended to investigate in their research.

The response to the Young Advocates presentation was overwhelmingly positive. The experts in the audience agreed about the urgency of the topics chosen and expressed their enthusiasm surrounding the importance of having the Young Advocates on board as a source of learning and insight. There was an inspiring sense of collaboration between the Young Advocates and the diverse range of professionals in the meeting, demonstrating how essential it is to ensure our conversations around youth justice are informed by personal as well as professional experience of the issues, and a range of perspectives working alongside each other to bring about change.

On the #DayOfHope2020, there is no denying that we were all left bursting with hope and inspiration from the Young Advocates. We look forward to watching the project progress and the young people grow from strength to strength.

If you have a network of young people you think our Young Advocates should talk to as part of their research or if you know a young person you think might want to join the Young Advocates project please contact amania@scyj.org.uk.