The power of participation and knowing your rights

26th September 2022

“Young people want their voices to be heard, they want information and most importantly they want to be involved in decision making processes.”

‘Time, for thought’ encourages young men aged 12-19 to share their experiences and develop empathy and understanding of other people’s situations as well as helping to understand their own place in the world.

The project is delivered by Women’s Community Matters in Barrow-in-Furness, which primarily offers services to vulnerable women, but also supports young men aged 12-19 years.

Supported by a £5,000 grant from the #iwill Fund, the ‘Time, for thought’ group took part in the #thefutureisme project to address barriers to participation, create safe spaces to discuss power and influence, and develop change for themselves and for others. It initially aimed to engage 15 young men but over 50 participated, with many asking if they could bring a friend to the group sessions.

Consultation workshops were held prior to the project starting, and 39 weekly group sessions and additional one-to-one sessions were delivered from the centre on Abbey Road.

Rebecca Rawlings, Senior Officer at Women’s Community Matters, said: “We have worked with young men to understand models of participation and the responsibility that comes with this. They have found out about local services, met with key partners within these services and supported other young men to access this project. We have worked with them to design, develop and deliver a course that is constantly evolving with their feedback.”

One parent has seen a significant change in her son after he was able to combat the racial bullying and harassment he had been experiencing.

He had been very emotional and depressed, however because he had felt understood, he was able to talk to school about what was happening. Before attending the project, he felt that this was just something he had to put up with, as a young man from an ethnic background living in a predominantly white community.

His mother explained: “I felt like it was an angel sent from the heavens and this project has given me my family back.”

Women’s Community Matters offers a wide range of courses, support groups, activities and appointments, providing support with anything from benefits, housing, domestic or sexual abuse, the police, courts and prison, to mental wellbeing, employment, education and social pastimes.