Spotlight on Youth Ambassadors

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What is a Youth Ambassador? We hand over to Jordan and Ed from YMCA Right Here and Emma and Jess from YMCA WiSE to tell you more.

Ed, YMCA Right Here Youth Ambassador

What is a YMCA Right Here Youth Ambassador?

A YMCA Right Here Youth Ambassador is a young person aged 16-25 who is involved in planning and delivering everything we do at Right Here including campaigns, school and community engagement, research projects, social media etc. We attend weekly volunteer meetings where we share our views in a group and discuss various projects and ideas. We decide which area we want to get involved in and work alongside other like-minded volunteers through every stage of the project, from planning to delivery.

What difference has volunteering with YMCA DLG made to you?

Volunteering with YMCA DLG has made an immense difference in increasing my confidence when approaching new environments. For example, I was given the opportunity to lead a focus group and plan a campaign around gender identity that will be delivered in the next few months.

I have also been involved with Youth Wise, a meeting for young people, youth workers, councillors and council officers to discuss and contribute to decisions about youth services in Brighton and Hove. Being involved in such a diversity of projects allows me to engage in learning about, and assist, my local community. It allows me to make a real difference in the life of young people in a way which is very unique to the diverse opportunities volunteering with YMCA DLG provides.

What have been the highlights of your role so far?

There are two which stand out to me. Firstly, I presented to Brighton and Hove City Council on matters brought up in one of the Youth Wise meetings. Another major highlight was attending and delivering one of the Right Here workshops about Youth involvement and participation at the YMCA 175 celebration at the ExCel in London. In addition to being given an opportunity for public speaking at the YMCA global summit to celebrate 175 years of good work and empowerment, it was incredible to see how many young people and lives the YMCA impacts every day, as well as hear and learn the work and ethos of different YMCAs around the world.

What is a YMCA WiSE Youth Ambassador?

The YMCA WiSE project is all about educating young people on all aspects around healthy relationships. During lockdown we’ve been meeting every week in order to create content around these subjects in ways we feel are relevant to our age groups. A lot of the topics we cover are things we didn’t necessarily get to learn about in our school sex education lessons, so we are all passionate about making resources that better equip others with information we wish we had had access to.

We recently released a work booklet for local schools and project workers to use with young people that focused on staying safe and happy in online relationships. Every week we make new social media content, some of our most recent posts include information around different sexual and gender identities, how to spot toxic behaviours and how to set personal boundaries and look after your mental wellbeing.

What difference has volunteering with YMCA DLG made to you?

Volunteering with the YMCA WiSE project is great. The group is incredibly welcoming, and everyone has different skills and backgrounds which means that we have interesting discussions on important topics that ordinarily aren’t spoken about. I’ve learnt a lot from the other volunteers and it’s wonderful to have a space where I feel confident in sharing new ideas.

I’m currently finishing my master’s degree in gender studies so a lot of the issues we cover I have some theoretical background in. However, volunteering with YMCA WiSE has enabled me to consider how to make this information relevant and accessible to others in a practical way, particularly through the social media content we create.

What have been the highlights of your role so far?

The biggest highlight so far was when we finished our first resource around online safety and got such a positive response from those who used it. It was at the beginning of lockdown and we had to suddenly create online resources which we hadn’t done before.

We worked together really well, and It was cool to work on something from start to finish and see it implemented and used by others. We are also lucky enough to have project workers do sessions with us around different topics that we feel we’d like to know more about. They are always interesting and give us great ideas to make our content more relevant and useful.

If you’re interested in becoming a YMCA WiSE Youth Ambassador, please email Magdalene.mill@ymcadlg.org or Catherine.Doble@ymcadlg.org

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YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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