Being A Young Assessor And Making A Difference In Bristol

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Changing the world doesn’t have to be hard. We caught up with the Young Assessors to find out how they’re making a difference in Bristol.

Have you ever noticed something that doesn’t feel right? Maybe it’s something that makes you angry because it’s so unfair. It could be something tiny that nobody else knows about, or gigantic and affects millions of people, but it leaves you with the niggling feeling that it could be improved. You start to think about how this could happen. A little idea starts to form in your head. It gets bigger and you realise you want to make a change. Where do you go from here?

Making a change or difference as a young person might seem hard or like nobody will listen to you, but that really isn’t true. Your opinions are as valid as anyone else’s. We know this and make a difference all the time. Lets talk about how.

What Is A Young Assessor?

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The Young Assessors are a team of young people aged between 12 and 18. We’re a pretty tight group and work for Bristol Youth Links (BYL), part of Bristol City Council. Bristol City Council run loads of activities, clubs and services across Bristol and it’s our job to go along to each of these and make sure they’re doing the best they can (and let them know about any improvements we think they could make).

Why Did We Get Involved?

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We all got involved in the project for completely different reasons: Brooke and Kiara decided to join because they knew it would improve their confidence, Dan saw an advert at The Station (and also liked the sound of getting some vouchers), and Bronwen saw the project as something that would help her CV as she wants to become a youth worker. Oh, and Callum joined the Young Assessors because his engagement worker shoved the application form in front of him and told him to sign up. And good job, really. He’s great.

The Serious Stuff

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When we started the project back in September last year we went through seven weeks of intensive training. It was just like being in the army – assault courses, extreme weather conditions, stamina. OK, that’s a lie. But we did get coaching in how to work as a team, how to interview people, and together we worked out exactly what we’re looking for when we go on visits around the city.

After the initial training period we went on a test visit to check out a local service provider (one of the clubs or youth groups). Pretty nerve-wracking is an understatement. Brooke (aged 13) says, ‘It was a bit scary for me, but I got more comfortable as the session went on’.

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Now at the end of our time in the project we’re super confident approaching sessions and understand what we’re looking for. All of the visits we’ve done – from youth centres to play sessions at the park to LGBTQ+ groups to young carers – have all been arranged around our own schedules so we can do it alongside school or work. So making a difference has actually been pretty easy.

The Fun Stuff

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Life as a Young Assessor isn’t always about doing visits or training. At Christmas we had a big celebration when everyone pitched in to make a huge dinner including jerk chicken and panacotta (Callum had pizza as he refuses to eat anything else), and then we exchanged secret santa gifts.

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We’ve also had our dramatic moments – just before a drumming workshop at the beginning of the year Brooke somehow managed to trip over her own foot and smacked her hand on a table (she’s very, very accident prone). After putting ice on it and heading off to A&E she found out she’d broken it. Needless to say that temporarily put her drumming career on hold. She’s all better now, thankfully, though currently has crutches from a completely different accident. Oh, Brooke.

Our Impact

We make a real difference to the youth services in Bristol by ensuring they’re doing the best they can for everyone who goes along to their sessions.

Being a Young Assessor also has an impact on ourselves too. Callum says, ‘My confidence has increased enormously – I can now speak in front of other groups of people’.

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The project has helped members of the team get through some difficult times. ‘My life has changed quite a lot since I started but a lot of other things have also changed during that time. Young Assessors was a consistent element through it all’.