This week a member of our Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel, Abbie Rodgers, discusses the rationale and motivation behind the newly created young people’s advisory group to the International Centre (IC). The group consists of seven young people, between the ages of 17 and 24, who are committed to developing research that improves outcomes for children and young people. These seven young people have joined the IC as paid members of staff to advise and develop key areas of our work, most importantly ensuring young people’s views remain at the heart of what we do.
The Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel consists of a number of young people from varied backgrounds who all share a passion for raising awareness against sexual exploitation and violence. The group was set up as the IC wanted to ensure that young people have an important say within every level of research they do. Young peoples’ views are especially desired when deciding upon the research agenda, improving how the IC involves children and young people in their research and in making sure research findings are shared widely to make a difference. The Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel was created to help with these things and thus consists of young people who can offer expert advice on the issues researched, drawing on their own knowledge base and experience of working on previous research projects with the IC.
There are numerous reasons that motivated the young people, including myself, to become involved with the Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel: these include an interest in the research that the IC carries out; a desire to learn more about, and be part of, research that influences peoples’ lives; and a feeling of empowerment from thinking that your actions can change someone’s life for the better. In addition we are interested in opportunities to learn new skills and develop our awareness of issues regarding sexual violence and exploitation – it’s never a bad thing to widen your knowledge! Finally, and perhaps most importantly – one thing that we all feel strongly about is a desire to make children and young people feel safer within their communities, something we hope can be achieved by contributing first-hand knowledge and opinions to strengthen the IC’s work.
As mentioned above, there are three main strands to the role that the group does. The first is to inform new research. This involves young people helping the IC with ideas for new research and advising on bids in order to gain funding to conduct the research. The second part of our role is based around improving the ways in which the IC involves children and young people in their research, this could involve deciding upon the best methods to use in research when including young people or thinking about the most appropriate way to recruit them. The final part of the role is based around the ways in which the IC distributes the findings of research – helping to think about outputs and consider the ways in which they are shared to make research more accessible – particularly to other children and young people.
This is the first year that the group has run and also the first time the IC have invited young people to advise on the strategy and direction of the IC. This means that we will be learning different things all the time – thinking about what works well and how best to develop the role of the Young Advisers. As part of the first group meeting, members of the Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel were set a task to discuss their hopes for being involved in this kind of work. Three key hopes mentioned by members of the group were: a desire to get involved in as many opportunities nationally and internationally as any sort of experience in spreading awareness about Child Sexual Exploitation and violence is valuable; opportunities to assist in improving the quality of research conducted by the IC; and a chance to also gain knowledge, experience and professionalism.
Overall the Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel consists of passionate young people with important first-hand experiences of tackling sexual violence and their main wish is to collectively help and improve the lives of young people today.
Abbie Rodgers (member of the Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel)