N.I governance meeting with the Young Ambassadors

Posted by / Friday 19 February 2016 /
NI-ambassadors

In February, our Young Ambassadors from Northern Ireland attended a governance meeting in Belfast with the N.I Committee. They talked about their experience of Action for Children and some of the barriers they have overcome with the support they’ve received.

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Laura

Hi, I’m Laura. I am currently an A-level student which means that I have a lot of pressure and stress to meet deadlines. My time is constantly linked to spending time doing coursework to ensure that I don’t miss any deadlines, or I am working in my part-time job. I also have other issues to sort out like going to my CAMHS appointments, meeting my support worker at Action for Children.

Action for Children’s participation group supports me to have a few hours to myself to relax and take time away from my school work to clear my head. 

The group is flexible with times so that I can attend. Through Action for Children I have been involved in many events – in October 2015 I spoke at Byte Night which is an event that raises awareness for Youth Homelessness and got to meet Action for Children Chief Executive Sir Tony Hawkhead.

Another of our ambassadors spoke about childcare

Childcare is a personal barrier for me as I am a young mum of two at the age of 19. I can’t afford to pay for a child minder. My mum is a great help but isn’t always available whenever group is on. Action for Children are very understanding and support me through whatever I need. They don’t pressurise me into making every group and always keep me informed and up-to date on what goes on if I can’t attend. Action for Children have offered to, and in some cases do, pay for a child minder which makes accessing child care easier and enables me to attend group more. They try and support and help you out as much as they can and all the Support Workers and Participation Workers are a credit to Action for Children.

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One ambassador talked about the Youth Task Group

I have been involved in the Youth Task Group for about two years, I have been involved in numerous activities and taken part in various things such as:

  • Going to Stormont to speak to MLAs about Youth Homelessness and Action for Children
  • Meeting Chief Executive Sir Tony Hawkhead
  • Doing numerous presentations
  • Recruiting new staff members
  • Completing various training courses like internet safety. First aid, public speaking and much more.

I have gained multiple skills and qualities since joining Action for Children, I have built up my confidence and self-esteem through the Youth Task Group and doing all the activities and workshops and training available and I have been given so many opportunities to better myself and further progress.

The Youth Task Group is like a big family. Everyone gets one another and we all have a great laugh. All our opinions are taken into account and valued.

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Alex

Alex is now an established Young Ambassador with lots of experience – he describes how much things have changed for him: “Looking at myself now I don’t know why confidence was a huge barrier for me because I feel like I could do anything now. Whenever I joined Action for Children over two years ago, I was scared to leave the house, I wouldn’t even talk to many people. I was so uncomfortable coming to the group for the first time, but one when I got there I felt so wanted and welcome. I have made so many new friends and have done a lot of great things for example ARTiculation; I went as a young person and then the following year as an Ambassador, won a Stephenson Award and I am in the Role Model book to represent and celebrate LGBT service users.

Through Action for Children I have had loads of great opportunities, one of the biggest ones for me is becoming an ambassador. Before this I had never left Northern Ireland so it was really big for me, especially the plane journey. I had my Support Worker with me the first couple of times but now I feel confident to fly alone. I fly to London for loads of Ambassador Training. Being an Ambassador has made me think of the future and what career I would like to do - someday I will be working for Action for Children giving back the help I got."

Nicole

Hello, my name is Nicole, I first started Action for Children in December 2015. I had never been able to meet my Support Worker due to being sick so I still had not physically met anyone from Action for Children. My support worker had phoned me to tell me about a trip to Belfast to attend the Regional Homeless Event in the Titanic Quarter. I decided that I would go along.

I was really scared on the morning of meeting the group as I had never met any of the others out of the Youth Task Group or any of the workers but I ended up having such a brilliant time and I was made very welcome by everyone.

The Regional Homeless Event focussed on Youth Homelessness and some of the young people from our group took part in the flash mob presentation where some of our members designed their own t-shirts with key messages they wanted to tell decision makers about Youth Homelessness

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Another member of the group talked about mental health

Some of the barriers that affected me attending the group was my low self-esteem, depressions, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Coming to a new group is very nerve-wracking but being with other people that are in similar circumstances as you makes you feel more comfortable and more confident in yourself. It’s good that you can get collected at home so you feel a bit less nervous about going to group. Everyone gets their opinion heard in the group. Everyone is equal and no one is better than anyone else.

We get food at every group meeting so you have access to food if you want it which saves us money or saves us from cooking.

Before I came to the group, I wasn’t involved in anything structured. My days lacked focus. I was at risk of isolation and wasn’t spending much time with people my own age. When I first came to group, I was a bit shy but I soon got out of my bubble and made new friends. I now have a good relationship with staff Clare and Cahir. I feel like I could turn to them if I had any worries or problems.

Keep up with all the latest from the Young Ambassadors here.

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