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(write up by Essex Boys and Girls Clubs)

This year’s Youth Voice Conference was held on Saturday 21 October 2023 at Writtle University College Chelmsford. More than 100 people gathered together to help continue a conversation to enable change for a better future with one question in mind, how do we keep young people safe in Essex?

Organised in partnership with Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services, Essex Boys and Girls Clubs, Young Essex Assembly and The Outhouse, with the day funded by The VVU and Essex Police, young people, organisations, adults, club leaders and community change makers were welcomed to be heard, listened to and to see results.

The theme of the day was Safety: Resilience: Empowerment. On the day attendees could choose various workshops run by organisations across Essex including a youth lead anti spiking workshop, raising awareness about the misconceptions and prevention methods, an informative discussion about empowering young people and being an active bystander by LGBTQI+ charity The Outhouse and a practical workshop covering Self Defence and the importance of feeling safe as a young person.

Other workshops were led by Young Essex Assembly, Kids Inspire, Essex Community First Aid and Events Volunteers, InterACT and The Children’s Society which included young people leading conversations.

The day was packed full of fun activities including quick response games, a graffiti wall and chances to network with organisations and charities across Essex.

On the day people said they felt ‘schools needed to feel safer so people don’t feel bullied’ as well as concerns around needing ‘more of a police presence’, ‘more support for mental health’, ‘more streetlights’ and ‘more youth clubs’. This information and other feedback will be used to continue the conversation about young people’s safety and create real changes.

The conference was an event for young people, hosted by young people so attendees could discuss, learn, engage, network, ask questions and be empowered to make changes for a better future. It was a fantastic example of how working as a team and listening to the voice of young people, real changes can be made.

Thank you to all who were involved for giving their time, commitment and enthusiasm on the day.