PRESS RELEASE

Staffordshire Youth Commission launch unique Educational Toolkit and research findings after engaging with over 4,000 people across the county.

The Staffordshire Youth Commission launched their Annual Report for 2021 during the first of several online presentations with the Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue, and Crime today.

The first of its kind dedicated to young people in Staffordshire, this latest report summarises the project’s findings from discussions with over 3,000 young people and more than 1,000 parents across the county, around topical issues such as mental health, youth violence and substance misuse.

Matthew Ellis, the Staffordshire Commissioner, discusses the Staffordshire Youth Commission’s findings with volunteers Simeron Pudden-Ward and Lauren Daniels.

The Staffordshire Commissioner, Matthew Ellis, opens the report: “The very fact there is a Staffordshire Youth Commission report in such an extraordinary and tragic year is testament to the determination of everyone involved in making it happen.

“When we established the Youth Commission for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent back in 2016, our ambition was to develop a powerful conduit for younger people to discuss issues about the provision of public services and how they can relate better to younger people.

“Over the years, the Youth Commission here has widened its horizons significantly and, whilst maintaining its original scope of advising police and wider criminal justice, it has evolved into a powerful, thoughtful and distinctive voice discussing wider societal challenges such as drugs and violence. 

“The Coronavirus pandemic has dominated the last year in all of our lives and, quite rightly, the Commission has undertaken substantial work to examine the effects, both practical and emotional, on younger people. Whilst infections are falling, we all know that there will be potential consequences, not only around physical health, but mental health and financial wellbeing. The work already done is highly indicative and there will be much more to do on this issue for the foreseeable future.

“My second term in office, which should have finished in May 2020, will certainly end in May 2021. I want to thank everyone who has been involved during the last few years and expect my successor, whoever is elected by Staffordshire people, to support and fund the continued work of the Youth Commission.

“I have also met and listened to many young people involved here who are passionate about social issues and I am confident I will see some, probably many, as leaders and opinion-shapers of the future.”            

The innovative Educational Toolkit features a collection of interactive educational activities tailored to the young people of 2020, focussing upon issues such as body image, antisocial behaviour, covert racism, and self-care. The content is unique in that it has been centred on popular media and trends. With the promise of being freely available, the toolkit has been designed by the project’s volunteers – all of whom are young adults – for use by the wider community, in the hope that it will raise awareness around the support and advice available in Staffordshire and how to identify situations. The toolkit will be updated regularly with new content and resources.

Olivia Lucas, Project Coordinator, said: “This year has been unique and challenging for us all, and I am extremely proud of our volunteers for their ongoing dedication to the project despite the struggles we have all faced.

“We have operated virtually for the majority of the year and, as a result, had to continually adapt to ensure that we maintained our engagement and involvement with our communities, key decision makers and other organisations.

“We recognised the importance of creating a digital stamp during the pandemic, and adapted both our new and existing Educational Toolkit sessions so that they are appropriate for both virtual and face-to-face delivery. We also strengthened our online presence and engagement by utilising a variety of platforms including social media, Google Classroom, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and SurveyMonkey.

“The Annual Report for 2021 represents the voices, needs and concerns of young people across our county, and takes into consideration current events and the impact of these. Our hopes for the report are that it will play a leading role in structuring our plans for the coming year, while also influencing key decision makers and our communities.

“Our report reinforces the need for more localisation across Staffordshire, and so we are restructuring our team so that we have representatives for each area across the county, while also maintaining an overhead panel. Not only will this allow us to conduct more in-depth research, it will allow our volunteers to focus on their own local area.

“The goal for the Youth Commission’s new year is to identify the gaps and the differing needs within the individual localities that make up Staffordshire, and work in partnership with others to meet and rectify these.”

The Staffordshire Youth Commission are now recruiting. You can apply to join the team here or by e-mailing your name, age and local area to olivia.lucas@staffordshirefire.gov.uk.

Over the next two weeks, the project will also be delivering similar presentations tailored to different community groups and services – if you are interested in attending one of these, please state your interest and contact the Staffordshire Youth Commission here.

The Staffordshire Youth Commission’s Annual Report for 2021 and the Educational Toolkit can be viewed via the project’s website: www.staffordshireyouthcommission.com.

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