Make your Mark 2020

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The Youth Engagement and Participation Service are reminding all young people in Rhondda Cynon Taf to vote in this year’s: “Make Your Mark” ballot.

YEPS would like to remind all young people in RCT that the deadline to cast your vote in this year’s Make Your Mark ballot is Monday 30th November. You’ll find more information across the YEPS social media accounts including Instagram Highlights and videos from our Youth Forum members.

Last year, young people in RCT submitted over 4000 ballots to the campaign with representation from schools, colleges, partner organisations and more. Make Your Mark is the main campaign run by the UK Youth Parliament in association with the British Youth. Council. The campaign involves asking young people to vote for the most important issue to them from a list of issues chosen by young people from across the UK, who make up the UK Youth Parliament. The five issues with the highest number of votes are then debated in the House of Commons by young people until they vote on the two issues to prioritise (do the most work on) for the next 12 months. In the last few years the campaign has seen around one million young people, aged 11 to 18 years old, vote for the issues that they care about the most for themselves and their community.

RCT YEPS works with Members of the UK Youth Parliament, our Youth Forums, County Youth Forum and other amazing young people every year following the vote to create and deliver campaigns, projects, activities and events around the priority issues. Young people from RCT have consistently voted highly in favour of: “Better Mental Health Support Services” and “Preventing Youth Homelessness” in previous Make Your Mark ballots.

YEPS is committed to working with our young people to create positive action from these issues. Over the last 12 – 24 months YEPS has introduced a dedicated Youth Homelessness Officer and Emphasis Project Officer to support young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in RCT; this can involve working with the family to avoid breakdown and arguments that could lead to a young person leaving the family home or being kicked out, or supporting a young person who is: “sofa surfing”. In addition, the Welsh Government gives funding to YEPS to run projects that prevent and reduce Youth Homelessness.

YEPS also uses this additional grant funding to run Mental Health projects. YEPS worked with several external partners such as charities and organisations between 2019 and early 2020 to run workshops for young people in RCT. Here are just a few examples of the work that has taken place:

  • YEPS organised for the Self-esteem Team to visit Treorchy Comprehensive School, Ferndale Community School and Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhondda, to work with young people on Anxiety, Self-esteem, Confidence and Body Image
  • Ysgol Nantgwyn and the Hope Chapel Youth Club organised a Wake-A-Thon to show the effects of sleep deprivation on mental health while also raising money for charity
  • Young people from Ysgol Gartholwg created a book to talk to children and young people about mental health through the medium of Welsh as they could not find any bi-lingual, mental health resources specifically for children
  • Our Youth Forum members from across RCT undertook training in Mental Health First Aid and began delivering Mental Health workshops to other young people. Our Youth Clubs; including Ferndale Youth Club, had monthly visits from a CAMHS nurse
  • YEPS organised for Empire Fighting Chance to work with targeted young people in Hawthorn High School to improve well-being and resilience
  • Young people in Cardinal Newman and Ysgol Gartholwg benefitted from Mindfulness session, and worked with Blue Mind Well-being
  • Young people across the Cynon Valleys and Cynon school/youth clubs had access to a carousel of events over a six week period where they worked with Heads Above the Waves, Empire Fighting Chance Boxing Blue Mind Well-being

Throughout the various COVID-related Lockdown’s YEPS and all of RCT’s Children’s Services Division has recognised the huge impact that the pandemic has and is having on people’s mental health. YEPS staff have been regularly contacting vulnerable young people; or those who have asked for support or just for something to do so they’re not so bored, throughout the year! YEPS has a dedicated member of staff who is supporting young people who have specific COVID-related worries about returning to school and our ever-growing team of Mental Health and Well-being Officers have been busy supporting young people, even publishing blogs on WICID.tv to give information, advice and guidance on managing your Mental Health at this time. Our Youth Engagement and Progression Officers also held special Well-being sessions during weekly Instagram live sessions and continue to discuss well-ness and well-being every Thursday through our brand new WICID chat service. Final special shout-out also to the #GoTeamChallenge which brought young people together throughout Lockdown on Zoom, three times a week, for an increasingly difficult physical challenge – firstly it involved building slowly up to 200 sit-ups and then the team moved on to squats – which staff and young people reported as making them feel so much better, more motivated and positive throughout Lockdown.

In 2021 we plan to continue supporting and working with our young people as much as possible and there are several exciting activities and campaigns on the drawing board which we hope to tell you about soon. YEPS always wants to hear from young people on what activities, events, trips and projects you want and what you care about, and the Make Your Mark is just one of many ways in which you can have your say. So once again YEPS would like to remind all young people in RCT that the deadline to cast your vote in this year’s Make Your Mark ballot is Monday 30th November.

If you or someone that you know needs more information, advice or support with any of the issues raised in this article please contact YEPS through any of our social media or e-mail YEPS@rctcbc.gov.uk.

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