A project initiated and supported by young people in the Youth Action Group almost 10 years ago, only around 6 months after we started the Young Advisors team here in NE Lincs. The project was conceived by the young people working in partnership with the Children’s services director and Grimsby Telegraph. This was in response to the group wanting to have a positive perception of young people in the media. Young Reporters is now supported with staff from our local organisation Voluntary Action NEL as a key volunteering opportunity and continues to enable young people to develop their skills and be heard about issues they feel are important. Young Reporters offers young people aged 11-19 the opportunity to write columns for local newspaper ‘Grimsby Telegraph’ about issues important to them and to share a young perspective with the readers to improve the often negative stereotypes of young people in the media.
Young Reporters is still a fairly unique project which has given fresh and important perspectives of young people through around 500 columns with topics from politics to performance, sport to science, stereotypes to superstitions, celebrity to creativity, reality tv to reading, fundraising to feminism, education to the European union and so much more.
The project has given the opportunity to over 150 young people and opened new doors for them to choose to walk through. Many young people in our area started their journey in youth voice and social action through Young Reporters and grown in confidence to then join other opportunities to make a difference such as our Young advisors group (Youth Action) some even went on to become members of youth parliament too. An example is a young man who is autistic and when he joined young reporters was nervous about being part of a small group, he wrote a really engaging article about understanding autism from his perspective and since his time as a Young Reporter he has joined Youth Action and shared his article in front of a packed room of people at the launch of the SEND Charter. He is now helping as an ambassador for young people with disabilities to improve the SEND local offer.
Young people who have been young reporters often tell us about how the experience has helped them in their adult lives. one said “it was the first time I felt heard” or “this really helped me to get the job I am in now, I was asked about it in my interview and they said they were so interested in what I had done”. Young Reporters is excellent evidence for young people to demonstrate their skills in communication (written and verbal) team work, meeting deadlines organisation skills and more. they have something physical and published to show this to future employers and when applying for education and training opportunities. We have heard from many of the previous young reporters who all talk about the experience as being really positive for them. Many have continued writing for local publications, one is a weather presenter on the BBC, others have gone onto university to study journalism. One of them has recently started as a graduate in our voice and Influence team sharing her experiences with other young people now.
The project became so sustainable, we believe, because it is low cost and high reward for all involved. The investment in it continuing is time rather than finances. The young people are core to its success and development and have been integral to its success since the idea was conceived, and it provides benefits to all involved. For the services supporting the young people it offers an opportunity for young people who may not otherwise feel heard to share their views with a wide audience. It offers the news platform quality content from young people to help engage a younger audience and there are long lasting benefits for the young people that choose this opportunity as part of their story.