Empowering Young People
to Make Choices for Life

About us Our Work

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About Us

Enabling Young People to develop life skills, self confidence, self esteem and a sense of civic responsibility by supporting them to design, deliver and evaluate social action projects.

Who

Gateshead Youth Council (GYC) has been around since 1979. We are youth centred, youth focused and youth led. We work with young people aged 11-18 (and sometimes their families) and carry a broad remit which is reflected in the diverse range of youth issues and activities that we are involved in on a local, regional, national and international basis. We are a registered Charity with a voluntary Board of Trustees and Chairperson. Our Board is made up of a range of professionals and people who have been part of GYC projects in the past. Half of the Board are under the age of 30. We also have representatives from our groups on the Board.

Why

Well, we think Young People are given a rough ride and frankly don’t deserve it. Young People are amazing individuals who, with support, encouragement and opportunity, can achieve great things. The skills Young People develop while working on their projects are the soft skills that employers often seek, the everyday things we often take for granted but aren’t part of a school curriculum.

What

At GYC we develop projects and services in partnership with Young People, such as World Artists, Peace of GYC and Gateshead Youth Assembly, and we involve ourselves in issues concerning Young People. Our aim is to be a channel for Young People to express views and opinions collectively to Local Authorities or Government on issues concerning them. We also encourage those working with young people to develop skills, share resources and broaden experience to assist their community and organisation. GYC is an organisation which responds directly to the issues of organisations and young people in order to fulfil their needs. We also work with families where this facilitates further work with young people.

How

By giving Young People the opportunities and support needed to design, deliver and evaluate their own projects and ideas, whether large or small. Every project at GYC is delivered as a partnership between adults and Young People, with Young People having an equal role. We provide training and expertise, allowing Young People to learn, develop and then disseminate this to other Young People, most of our training is written and delivered by Young People who have already been through the GYC process. We support Gateshead Youth Assembly to research, design and deliver their own Social Action projects. We work with Asylum Seekers and Refugees settling in Gateshead by supporting parents to develop their language skills and engaging with the young people to develop their own projects.

Our Work

Gateshead Youth Assembly

Gateshead Youth Assembly is a group of young people, elected and nominated annually to serve as the ‘voice of young people’ in Gateshead. They are the strategic link between young people and Gateshead Council. The project is a partnership between Gateshead Council and Gateshead Youth Council but we are very clear, that GYA is independent and decides on its priorities with no influence from either organisation. We believe that this makes GYA strong and effective as a vehicle of and for young people’s engagement. GYA members undertake a training programme in November each year where they also elect their Executive Committee and plan their priorities for the coming year. They are wholly responsible for making these plans come alive. Support workers are there to enable and encourage, not to take over.

Human Rights

GYC has always been about challenging inequalities, unfairness and siding with the oppressed. In recent years this has started to include specific human rights issues, identified by young people as important to them. This has led the way to GYC supporting work with asylum seekers and refugees, Remember Srebrenica and Holocaust Memorial Day.

Remembering Srebrenica

In 2017 we were asked to take part in the Remembering Srebrenica memorial day. Our young people don’t remember Srebrenica so initially it was a steep learning curve to enable the groups to take part with a sound base of knowledge. From that GYC members have taken up the challenge to develop an annual programme of Remembering Srebrenica activities aimed at reminding people what happens when we allow hate to take over.

Work with schools

We can deliver bespoke training to schools around politics, democracy and global issues, for primary or secondary aged pupils. We also deliver sessions around ‘engaging children and young people in decision making’, to children, young people staff or Governors.

World Artists

The World Artist group grew out of a small part of the Juice Festival where a group of asylum seeking young people came together to develop some artwork to exhibit at the Great North Museum. This group really loved being able to get involved in wider cultural experiences so we worked with Juice to secure funds to keep it going so these young people could gain a Bronze Arts Award.

Arts Awards

Gateshead Youth Council is not what anyone would imagine to be a traditionally 'arty' kind of place so we have not, over the years, got involved in arts related projects apart from occasional theatre trips and wanders around The Baltic. In recent years though, we met with the people organising the Juice Festival for young people and they opened up an avenue we hadn’t imagined. Our young people are excellent volunteers and ambassadors for young people so they worked with Juice to deliver events during the festival as young volunteers. This has enabled more young people to access the arts, through routes they are comfortable with but which would not normally support access to arts and culture. As we know, being involved in arts and culture is a major factor in social mobility and developing aspirations so we wholeheartedly support this development.

Asylum seekers and refugee support

We started working with an Asylum seeker led organisation a few years ago, after some of our young people had met them at school and were very clear that this was an area in which we could help. We have developed strong working relationships with Peace of Mind Communities and the Samosa Sisters and have, through this, developed initiatives which support asylum seeking families. We realised that these families were hesitant to allow their young people to get involved in GYC projects and that we needed to develop relationships with the parents before they would trust us with their young people. This work has benefited us all. GYC young people, who are all socially aware and socially active, work with the asylum seeking families on issues affecting them all. They show the parents that at GYC young people are expected to be fully engaged with and responsible for their projects and that their children would have the same expectations. We are also very clear of the expectations around standards of behaviour and this helps us develop positive working relationship with the whole family. We have developed a range of regular and one off sessions around reading English, deciphering forms and customs, cultural differences in parenting, and simply making friends. This support has led to a significant increase in numbers of asylum seeking young people engaging with GYC projects, events and activities which further develops the social awareness and community activity of all of the Young People involved in GYC.

So what?

What Young People get out of being part of the Youth Council.

Self esteem and Self confidence

The very nature of the projects young people get involved with at GYC helps them to develop positive self-esteem and self-confidence. There is plenty of evidence to support the notion that volunteering is good for your soul as well as your community. At GYC we also offer bespoke sessions for young people around developing self-esteem and confidence and we challenge young people to get involved in their communities, whether through GYC or elsewhere as a way to open up their horizons and broaden their world view.

"When Sarah started attending GYA she was quiet and lacked confidence. It has been great watching her develop her own opinions while growing more confident, becoming more informed and making new friends." Sarah's Dad

Life Skills

Young People develop essential life skills as a result of being involved in GYC projects, almost by stealth. No one joins a group to ‘learn life skills’ but by virtue of getting fully involved in social action projects, making friends, meeting new people and developing projects, young people develop skills and confidence which can be transferred to any arena.

Employability

At GYC we tend to focus on general life skills, self esteem and confidence. Employability skills developed were mostly incidental but recently we have started to notice that our young people have a far easier time finding employment, whether full time or part time. They report back to us that the activites they have been part of at GYC have made the difference. Group interview activities don’t faze them, as we do them all the time, thinking on their feet works, because they are used to that. Being expected to fully participate and ‘get on with the job’ is something GYC young people are well versed in.

Good citizenship

At every stage of every project, event or activity, young people are expected to fully participate and contribute to the developments. We do this for a number of reasons but ultimately, it’s about young people developing into active, compassionate citizens of this world, caring about, and active within their our communities, challenging inequalities and striving to be the best version of themselves. We firmly believe that this will lead to more and more people being empowered to be active in their communities, and that has to be a good thing.

Emotional health, well being and resilience

Emotional well-being is one of the most important things we can support young people with. If their emotional well-being is sound and acknowledged, then all of the other life skills can find a place. We work with all of our young people on emotional wellbeing and resilience as part of the package of support all GYC young people receive. We firmly believe that volunteering in your community is crucial in developing the coping mechanisms and life skills we all need to thrive.

Testimonials

Board of Trustees

Alice Drysdale

Board member

Ewan Taws

Board member

I am Ewan. I got involved with GYC through the Youth Assembly in 2011 when I was 12. The Youth Assembly became a very large part of my life and presented me with opportunities that I would not have been offered through the conventional route of school. I joined the board in order to help provide these same opportunities for more people in the same situation I was throughout my secondary school years and be part of the organisation that helped me so much.

John Bennett

Board member

Karen Thirlaway

Board member

I have been on the Board of Trustees since 2015 when my son was a member of Gateshead Youth Council. His involvement sparked a broader interest in GYC and I wanted to join the team and give my support.

As the parent of a young adult with autism and ADHD, I use my experience of these conditions and the special education system to support families in the Gateshead area in similar circumstances. I volunteer for Gateshead’s SENDIAS service and the Autism Information Hub drop-ins, and run a monthly support group for parents and carers of children with autism.

I also home educated for several years, through GCSE stage and up to college entry, so have an awareness and understanding of associated legislation. I also aim to encourage the involvement of home educated young people in opportunities that are usually promoted through schools, which they might otherwise be unable to access.

Lucy Adams

Board member
I've been involved with GYC since 2008 when I joined the Gateshead Youth Assembly (GYA) at the age of 11. Upon leaving GYA in 2015 I joined the Board of Trustees before becoming Vice-Chairperson in 2018. The reason I stay involved with GYC is because it helped me so much as a young person, and I want to be able to give that opportunity to other young people. I absolutely love watching our young people grow and flourish at the youth council, and that's why it's so important. I love being part of the youth council, and after being involved for 11 years I just can't stay away from the place!

Mahnoor Mansoor

Board member

I'm Mahnoor, I started volunteering with Gateshead Youth Council in 2017. I got to know GYC through work with GYA and Peace of Mind and found it really interesting to work with very talented young people. After a year I was asked to join the board and I was very happy to accept.

Matthew Spry

Treasurer

Mike Laugharne

Board member

Richard Adams

Board member

Sue Adams

Chairperson

I became involved with GYC in 2011 when my youngest daughter first started Gateshead Youth Assembly. Andrew and Sophie have since joined GYA and I have to say, Gateshead Youth Assembly has been the making of them all. Because of this, I felt it was really important to support the Youth Council in any way possible. As part of the Board, I hope I give back as much as GYC has given my family!

Contact Us

12 Gladstone Terrace, NE8 4DY

info@gatesheadyouthcouncil.org.uk

0191 490 1900

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