8 Aug 2022
Last month we were joined by Brianna Shaw, a Year 10 student who conducted her work experience for 2 weeks on various areas of We Belong's work. Below is her blog reflections on the question of why young people using their voice is important.
I think that young people using their voices is important because it makes their opinions valid and lets them know that they can make a change if they keep speaking up about something that the government is doing wrong and needs to show awareness about.
Over the years, Young people’s voices have contributed to making changes and I believe that the importance of the younger generation doing that is starting to be shown more because of how determined they are to help society. We Belong has been one of the most significant organisations because they focus on young people and make their voices heard about issues. Young people themselves are leading the organisation. Another reason why We Belong stands out is that it’s a group of young people trying to make the world a better place, they have also been very successful throughout the years of their campaigning. We Belong has campaigned for young people to get a shorter route to settlement. The outcome was that the policy changed and this was able to happen because We Belong were determined to continue raising awareness and influencing policymakers. As part of their work they wrote reports which young people contributed to about how the 10-year route is affecting the lives of many young migrants in the UK and causing mental health issues from the anxieties of not feeling welcomed.
We Belong’s pursuit of justice demonstrates that young voices are strong and if the younger generation comes together we can all make a change in the world. My opinion on this comes from witnessing We Belong members using their stories; which I felt created a welcoming atmosphere for other young people. I find it inspirational that We Belong’s CEO has worked with the Mayor of London to create an office for the Deputy Mayor for Social Integration so that the voices and concerns of young Londoners can be represented. Most recently, We Belong successfully influenced the Immigration Minister Kevin Forster to make a policy change in favour of a shorter route to settlement for young people. This change in official government policy from the campaigning of young people shows how important our voices actually are but I have sometimes felt that the older generation don’t always seem to recognise that.
When young voices come together it shows how strong and effective they are. Another example I see demonstrated in showing the importance of young peoples voices is Greta Thunberg. She has shown that young voices are significant through her environmental activism by using her voice to make a change and speaking out against the government to commit to better sustainable actions. She has also used campaigning to create an effect globally as she inspires thousands of young people across the world to organise and have their say heard. I feel that this conveys that young peoples’ voice are important and are very much valid. One of the reasons Greta was successful was because she used social media to bring more attention to the environmental issues. She was able to inspire more than 20,000 students to hold strikes in 270 cities. Greta has also done a lot of speeches around the world to bring awareness globally and speak to members of parliament to pressure them to act faster on this matter and not wait until things get out of hand before stepping in. In my opinion this mirrors actions young people have taken in my school to protest about sexual assault and make our senior leadership be aware of problems students are having in school.
Overall, young people using their voice is important because it is a way to express themselves and also educate others around them about things that happen locally and globally. Through young voices being heard, it encourages others and direct opportunities are made to helping them become responsible adults. It shows that the younger generation have the power to stand up.