British Youth Council
We are a charity led by young people for young people, aged 25 and under, across the UK, empowering young people to have a say and be heard, whoever they are and wherever they're from. We represent a diverse community of member organisations and support a network of local youth councils, as a unique coalition of young people inspiring other young people since 1948. We inspire and support young people to make a positive difference through campaigning, engaging with local, national and international democracy, and as volunteers, decision-makers and leaders. We campaign on the issues that matter to young people, and recognise and celebrate the positive things that young people do in society. We run a range of local, national and international programmes targeted for disadvantaged, marginalised or under-represented groups of young people who stand to benefit the most from involvement with BYC. The British Youth Council (BYC) is entirely youth-led and governed, with a Board of Trustees all aged 25 and under, elected by young people from across our member organisations each year (to become a full member of BYC, groups must demonstrate that they themselves are largely youth-led). Our youngest trustee at the moment is 17 and the oldest has just turned 26. These governance and democratic structures exist to ensure that young people are the true leaders and visionaries of our organisation, setting the strategy and direction for BYC and managing and holding the small staff team of 12 they employ to deliver the work, to account. Trustees meet six times a year at the weekends as well as getting involved with different aspects of our work as leaders and representatives locally, nationally and internationally. We ensure that individual programmes and projects run by BYC are inspired by young people's ideas and have youth input throughout their delivery in a variety of different ways, for example: - our Programmes Advisory Board are a diverse group of 15 young people meeting six times a year to look at specific project areas and contribute their ideas to shape the way that staff members run BYC projects, opportunities and events for other young people. - Our VTalent group of ten volunteers aged 16-25 are based in our offices alongside staff of different ages, and lead the way with campaigning activities, getting out and about as champions of BYC campaigns (on themes set by young people from member groups). - young people are BYC's representatives to decision-making forums nationally and internationally, at key meetings and government stakeholder events, as well as media spokespeople and interviewees on BYC policies and issues affecting young people. Safety is paramount across our work and BYC policies (e.g. child protection and safeguarding) and procedures (e.g. risk assessment for all BYC events or activities with young people) are practiced as living, breathing ways of working across the team. All staff are appropriately qualified and experienced for their roles (backgrounds include teaching, social work, residential youth work, professional event coordination and more), and staff, volunteers and trustees alike undergo enhanced CRB checks and regular training. Young people are at the centre of our work, and our values of equality, diversity, participation and recognition are applied throughout a young person's experience of a BYC event or programme. Training sessions are facilitated in a way that includes everyone equally regardless of their background or circumstances - this is core to the policy, practice, and values of our people and our organisation. Other systems and processes which ensure safety for young people include - data protection and privacy policies governing what we use personally identifiable information for, and how we store it - social networking protocol for interaction with young people online - volunteer policies on support for young people involved in BYC. BYC's recruitment policies and procedures are in line with good practice externally, with vacancies widely advertised at national level and across the sector. We are very fortunate to attract hundreds of applications even for fixed-term opportunities on our staff team. A young person is involved in recruitment throughout the process for senior roles - typically a panel of three will include the line manager for the role and at least one BYC trustee or young volunteer as appropriate. BYC's management team of four bring a combined 60 years of expertise from public, private and voluntary sectors, and qualifications and backgrounds represented within our staff team (12 in total) include - Social worker - MSc youth participation - Qualified teacher - International development - Democracy and participation worker - Volunteer managers as well as staff who are still aged under 25 themselves. BYC also draws upon external expertise and industry mentors to support the Board and management team where necessary - e.g. in the areas of legal advice, accountancy, IT, and HR. We offer a range of training workshops, courses and packages for young people and youth groups, designed in response to the needs young people themselves have identified (and often facilitated by young trainers). These and other learning opportunities are built into the fabric of the opportunities we offer, and the success of our programmes is measured in terms of the gain in skills, knowledge, and confidence for each young person who has taken part, along with their inspiration, motivation and how likely they are to put what they've learned into practice. Transferable / 'soft' skills developed through BYC include - leadership - teamwork - communication - presentation - influencing and negotiation - meeting skills ...and more. Recognition is a core value of BYC, and young people taking part in our activities receive a certificate or similar record of their contribution (e.g. BYC lapel badges for regular volunteers). We have already accredited several of our volunteering programmes and training courses, through the UK Youth Achievement Awards, ASDAN, and the Open College Network, and are seeking funding to extend these across our opportunities and training. The level of support provided by the BYC staff team to all young people is regularly praised by young people, youth workers and partner organisations alike. Here are a few recent quotes: 'Thank you for strengthening me, and us as a group in every step.’ Joel, v talentyear volunteer “Congrats again on a great training session, it was pitched perfectly and I think everyone got a lot out of it” “It was a really great experience and I…definitely feel 'inspired” ‘Wonderful facilitation" - training session feedback “As always. [we had] excellent support from staff…" - Tom, Young UK Ambassador “really inspirational, creative and fun” – Tebessum, BTEG on our Two Kingdoms project. We work hard to encourage two-way communication and feedback across our network, and constantly encourage young people to get in touch with their queries, comments and ideas - offering a choice of ways to do this (phone, fax, email, facebook, etc). We personalise the support we offer to named staff members, or teams, and pride ourselves in being responsive to all manner of requests for help: if we can't help a young person directly, we work hard to put them in touch with someone who can. If our own resources and the grant funds we receive to do our work ever fall short or present a barrier to taking part, we find ways to overcome those barriers - for example through identifying funds for translation, or support worker costs, or seeking help from a partner charity, or a matched commitment from e.g. a local authority to cover any shortfall. BYC with our partner Youthnet published the Respect: the Voice behing the Hood report, raising the extent of the problem of negative stereotyping of young people in our society, and especially in the media, in 2005/6. The youth-led Respect campaign we have continued to support since has been a forerunner and counterpart of multiple campaigns on this issue. BYC communicates and shares the great stories and achievements of young people as widely as we can, through our own website and publications, conferences and events, and through partner networks - promoting the positive achievements, and seeking recognition for all that young people do in communities and society, is core to our work and embedded in our strategy for 2010-13. We provide young people with training, tools and platforms to represent themselves in the media, and are also supporting a fledgling youth media network as it finds its feet. In 2009-10, BYC more than doubled our media coverage representing young people positively, with twice as much print vs online coverage compared to previous years. Young BYC spokespeople were interviewed on 20 different radio / TV programmes. A team of 10 young volunteers were supported by BYC to make a porfessional-quality documentary film, 'Some Truth About Youth', telling the untold story of young people's contribution to social change over BYC's 60 year heritage - we got the film seen by many thousands of viewers on DVD, online, at events and on the Community Channel. Youth leadership is core to the way BYC works - the opportunities we offer give young people space to shape their roles and activities, to take ownership of their own development. Specific examples of roles at BYC focused on leadership development include: - Local councillor shadowing scheme as part of the Youth of Today programme with other youth sector organisations - Young UK Ambassadors - we are lead partner in this project supporting 15 young people from all four nations as the UK's youth representatives to international forums and global leadership summits. - BYC Vtalent volunteer campaigners shape their roles and project activities while also working towards an accredited award, should they wish to.