Nadia Zemouri and Sam Bell attended the Portsmouth Social Action Conference and recorded their impressions of the events.
On the 16th Feburary 2017, Sam Bell and I attended a conference on Youth Social Action, held at Fratton Park football stadium in Portsmouth.
The day was overwhelming, discussing many different aspects of social action, from sharing good practice and forming relationships/networks to benefit young people from across the city. Unlike most conferences, the network of people involved were often unaware of each other’s existence and work. However, with slots in the programme designated purely for networking, organisations, both statutory and non-statutory, formed friendships that will, undoubtedly, lead to benefits for young people across Portsmouth and, arguably, the country.
The day started with several speeches, firstly Brian Bacher (Portsmouth Togethercoordinator), who introduced the key aims of the conference, highlighting the existing work that is being carried out and how to expand, continually improving upon work undertaken.
The conference aimed to bring together both young people from local schools/colleges and professionals in the youth work industry. This collaborative approach, with the aim of gathering a range of opinions from all ages and backgrounds, was incredibly useful in alleviating stereotypes and naivety and offered a whole new thinking aspect to many. He then introduced the six speakers who would form the panel for the Q&A discussion, alongside Steve Frampton MBE.
After a brief interval the crowd were split off into the first of their selected workshops to have a focused, in-depth discussion around key issues. The four workshops available to attend were: Benefits and barriers to young people getting involved in youth social action, Creating more opportunities for young people involved in volunteering and social action, Enabling more young people to make a difference across health & social care and Giving young people a voice.
In the workshop I attended - Enabling more young people to make a difference across health & social care - some of the delegates, representing the local NHS trust, were particularly interested in how to engage young people in the evaluation of NHS services within the area. They were unsure about how to go about involving young people; fortunately, opportunities arose for them to utilise experience, to which we contributed our own experiences along with our counterparts in the group discussion. The delegates from the NHS had several avenues to utilise/include young people in their research, thus ensuring a more accurate evaluation/reflection.
After the first workshop, everyone enjoyed a buffet lunch. The delegates were encouraged to network over the lunch period. Afterwards, the groups switched around so that everyone was in a different workshop. Along with the aforementioned intervals designated for networking, some VIP guests attended. Two Conservative MPs (both representing Portsmouth constituencies) gave their personal time to attend, speak and acknowledge the work from volunteers, organisations and charities from across their city.
The overwhelming consensus of the event appeared to be positive, with the young people wanting to engage further in youth social action and the professionals in attendance left with real food for thought on how to improve their current operations.
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