My week on the global panel
I recently spent the past week doing some amazing, energetic, and also important things on the Global Panel.
I joined young people from other countries like Colombia, Nigeria, South Africa, to express our views on child poverty and what we think Save the Children should or should not be doing.
Amongst the parties, cultural nights and meeting the most amazing people, here are some of the highlights of the week:
Speaking to decision-makers
I imagine that Save the Children UK must be a great place to work in, as all the important staff I got to speak to were extremely interested in young people’s voices. They wanted to hear from us.
During the week we spoke to directors like Tanya Steele, Greg Ramm, Anabel Hoult and, of course, the chief executive, Justin Forsyth.
One of the issues we discovered and brought to them was that Save the Children don’t do enough work on mental health, and disability.
We also presented them with new ideas like getting children involved from the start in Save the Children decisions.
They reponded to all of our questions and they gave us a clear indication of whether our issues can be solved soon, and if Save the Children can do anything about them.
They actually promised to take our ideas into consideration if they we’re feasible. Hopefully we will receive feedback soon!
Visiting Wilberforce School
During the week we also got inspired by some absolutely incredible primary school children who are part of the ‘In My Back Yard’ programme. Their main issue was overcrowding in housing, something we’re all passionate about.
We discussed the causes, effects and solutions to child poverty and how to campaign about it. It was great to see an insight to how even children at a primary level of education have an in-depth understanding of child poverty.
They understood causes like the poverty premium, livelihoods and mental health, and I used some of the information they had to present to Save the Children staff.
Overall, it showed me that even young people at a very young age should be listened to, as they understand and have some fantastic ideas.
Mental health drama
We spent all of Tuesday making a drama on three topics that we felt as a group were the most important. These were abuse, livelihoods and health.
Myself, Nia and Kalu (who is a Global Panel representative from Nigeria) decided that we were going to focus on health, and after five minutes of brainstorming we decided to do something on mental health.
It’s a broad topic, that affects children all around the globe. A poor mental state of health can be caused by livelihoods, child poverty and it is common for it to be a barrier to a child achieving their potential.
The role play was about a character who has a bad family background, his parents are constantly drunk so they don’t help him get ready for school.
When he arrives at school he is screamed at by the horrible teacher for being late, his mental illness causes him to break down, get angry and be sent out of the class.
Because the teacher didn’t ask why he was late and didn’t help solve the problems at home, the character falls behind in the school system, he doesn’t do well, doesn’t get the grades he could have, and ends up living on the street in poverty.
The drama was shown to two groups of Save the Children staff, who could put their hands up and ask questions during the role play, to ask us questions and get more details of our views.
It was great. The staff asked us some hard questions, and it showed that they had genuine interest in what we had to say. One of the questions we’re ‘What can Save the Children do to stop this?’
I believe that issues like this could be solved by having teachers more throughly trained on how to understand pupils, but also having pupils in schools trained to support pupils with mental issues.
I also suggested Save the Children staff could visit schools on a bi-weekly basis, to see if young people are having issues with their schools or issues at home.
Save the Children could be the pupil’s support and be the link between the pupil, school and their home. We then had time to discuss our role play and have staff members make pledges, which I hope they have stuck to!
Making an accountability film
During the week we also made a film on accountability, so Save the Children organisations globally have a better understanding of how they can improve accountability to young people.
We summed up the horrible word ‘accountability’ into:
- Participation – young people must be able to participate and be involved in decisions
- Promise – by making a pledge you promise to stick to it
- Feedback – to feedback to young people about how the pledge is going and whether we’re being successful or not and why.
These are some of the highlights of one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had. It was a great experience and it’s hard to summarise in a single blog post.
It was great to see so many staff members listening to us, taking time out of their work to speak to us – and hopefully the Global Panel has made some big changes.