Lauren Crawford, 18, agreed to sit down with us for an interview about her role and her journey through youth politics so far.
What is your current role, and what does itinvolve?
Iam currently the UK Young Ambassador for Wales; I have been in this role sinceJuly 2014. The UK Young Ambassadors project consists of 12 young people fromaround the UK – we are split up in to three different sections:
* The Structured Dialogue which consists of two young people from each of thecountries in the UK (18 month term)
* Afurther two young people represent the European Youth Forum (2 year term)
* Theother two young people are British Youth Council (BYC) Commonwealthrepresentatives (2 year term)
Ourrole is to represent young people like ourselves in UK, Europe and theCommonwealth – we make sure young people from all walks of life get their voicesheard. As the UK Young ambassador I ensure that young people’s opinions areexpressed on decisions and events that affect them on a local, national andinternational level. Our project and all our work is youth-led and one of ouraims is to spread the political representation of young people.
Thisyear we are working on Youth Participation and Access to Rights. The role involvesgetting out there and making sure young people are represented.
How did you get to this role that you are intoday?
Thisis quite a long story so I’ll try and keep it short. When I was in school and justfinishing my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh, a youth worker asked me if I wanted toget involved with a children’s rights project, and I took the opportunity. I lovedbeing a part of this project, and another youth worker must have seen some potentialin me and asked if would like to stand in election for Youth Mayor of RhonddaCynon Taff – I agreed to stand for election even though I had no idea what tosay and had never been in an election before. I tried and sadly didn’t get therole, but I lost to an amazing candidate who has served you all well.
Theyouth worker then asked if I would take part in an interview to become a RCT representativeon the former youth assembly for Wales: Funky Dragon. I got the position andhad the most amazing year of my life, I got to debate on national live televisionin the House of Commons in the November of 2013, and by February 2014 I waselected as the Co-chair for the Health portfolio and lobbied in the House ofLords.
Then, in April of 2014 I was given the opportunity to stand for the positionof UK Young Ambassador for Wales. Last July I was told that I had been chosento represent the young people of Wales, I got the role I am in now all becauseone youth worker saw a lot more in me than I saw in myself – they gave me a chanceand I took it.
What issues do you feel are the mostimportant to young people?
Ifeel that the most important issues to young people are children’s rights as wellas access to rights, and youth participation – through research and my roles inthe youth assembly and as a young ambassador, I have seen for myself that notmany young people know their rights, or how to access them, and our surveyshave shown us that young people feel they can’t participate because of their lackof knowledge.
What has your experience been like?
Absolutelyamazing. I have enjoyed every minute of my time being involved in voluntaryservices. I have had extraordinary experiences and opportunities, doing thingsI would never have thought I would be able to do.
What has been the most memorable moment ofthe last year?
Thereare so many memorable moments in 2014. The most memorablehas to be becoming the UK Young Ambassador for Wales.
Where do you want to be in five years?
Infive years time I would like to have finished university with a good grade andhave a job working with children who have challenging behaviour. Hopefully I’llstill be involved with things I am doing now purely because I love doing it!
How do young people contact you or getinvolved with UKYP?
Thereare many ways of contacting me.
* Facebook – Lauren Anne Crawford
* Twitter – @laurcrawf96
* Email – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Youngpeople can get involved with UKYP via their Facebook page and Twitter account, andUKYP website. The BYC website has links to all these as well. There are alwayssurveys/questionnaires and links to articles/blogs that young people are encouragedto answer. BYC also hold different events at different times of the year.
Do you have a message for young people who donot feel involved or listened to?
Mymessage to all those who feel that they aren’t listened to is to push yourself outof your comfort zone and make sure you get heard by anyone that will listen toyou! The sky is the limit. There is always someone listening. As for notfeeling involved there a plenty of ways to be involved whether it be by sharinga link, attending a convention or Tweeting your support. Maybe you feel asthough no one is noticing what you say or what you do but you are being noticed;every little thing counts! Before I came in to where I am today I was extremelyshy, I wouldn’t talk to anyone and had a really low self esteem, but by pushingmyself to get heard and becoming involved I feel like I’ve become a new person.
Ifyou feel like you’ve tried all this and still don’t feel like you are involvedor being listened too, I am more than happy for you to send me a tweet or amessage for some advice, or just a little pep talk!
Laurenand her fellow ambassadors are currently looking into how much young peoplefeel involved in politics – have your say by completing their survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/?sm=euXlkBbxKtGcy1Zs6QjHGVcXe2f80Fo8djExF8sEmH8%3d and you can be a part of this exciting time in youth politics. Thedeadline for entries is February 22nd.
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