International Youth Day Blog:  Stepping Up in a Time of Need

Today is International Youth Day-An opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness about the challenges and attitudes of young people worldwide. It is important to recognise the different ways in which young people engage-not only on an international and national level, but also on a local level, appreciating how they can enrich the lives of others and the communities in which they live.

The United Nations (The UN) believes that vast majority of challenges humanity currently faces, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, require meaningful engagement and participation of young people for it to be addressed effectively. It is therefore important to prepare and educate young people, and empower them to engage, lead and improve the society in which they live in.  Here at Neighbourhood Networks, at a local level, we support our young members to build on their life skills, learning and experiences, which has proved to be invaluable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, B, a member of our South Lanarkshire Transitions Network, has not only stepped up to learn new life skills during the Covid-19 lockdown, she has taken the initiative to share these with her peers to help them engage in their community, albeit a digital community. “Since joining the network, I have really growing in confidence. The network has really helped me.  Before lockdown we met up every week, did activities and even during lock down we continue to meet up online, via Facebook, Zoom and WhatsApp. I have even been supporting others and helping them make Zoom account. I did this by writing an easy guide to set up Zoom account. I would never have done this at the start of the year, it feels really good to help the other members”. This truly demonstrates that young people, when given the opportunity, they can step up to impart their learning and experiences to make a positive difference to others, especially during a time of need.

B’s fellow network member, S, has proved how empowerment, inclusion and opportunity has also made a positive difference to him and others. “Since joining the network, I feel I have found my voice, by being supported by the other members. They made me feel welcome and included. I have always been very quiet and shy, but the network was a safe space where I could just be myself, with no pressure to talk. Throughout the lockdown we have been doing lots of online activities which I have been included in, and I even ran the quiz last week! This felt great- me leading the quiz, supporting others, encouraging them to pick answers to my questions. I felt so good and very pleased with myself after the quiz”.

These are just a few recent success stories of our amazing young members making a positive difference to others during challenging times. As each of our young members continue to make a positive contribution to their communities, both digitally and in person, and we look forward to being there to support them to achieve their goals along the way.