I am delighted the Journal printed my letter last Saturday which, I am told is the day that has the largest readership. It is important to remember that WEYES is just one Children North East project yet the theme that runs through all the projects is addressing the impact of inequality on children, young people and their parents. I am sure we are going to hear a lot more about that in the run up to the general election.
I'm very excited about a new contract Children North East has won this week. The local authority concerned asked us not to make a public announcement just yet, but is a blog 'public'? Depends how many people read it - probably not that many?
Back in November we submitted a bid for a contract to set up and support a Youth Council in one of the North East Local Authorities. The Local Authority concerned wanted an external body to do this so that the Youth Council had genuine autonomy and would therefore be better able to challege the Local Authority, giving young people not only a real voice but more importantly some influence. It seemed like an ideal opportunity - shouldn't an organisation called 'Children North East' be supporting children and young people so that their voices are heard?
A team of us worked hard on the bid, pulling together our collective knowledge of 'participation' by young people and the creative ideas of the staff at WEYES. Just before Christmas we were informed that we had been shortlisted with one other organisation. We were invited to make a short presentation about how we would persuade a group of young people to be part of a Youth Council, and then be interviewed by a panel of young people. That should have happened at the beginning of January but was postponed until 1st February due to the snow .
A lot of preparation and rehearsal went in to the presentation and after the interview we thought we had spoken as well as we could. We were delighted with the news next day that we had won the contract! This is particularly good news for the staff at WEYES who will be managing this new work. It adds to our concept of the new WEYES building being a base for a range of services and activities for young people.