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PCC’s Youth Commission deliver final thoughts on impact of pandemic on young people

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission have published their final report highlighting the main concerns of young people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 200 children and young people took part in the Commission's six-month long project launched on 1 May following the first nationwide lockdown.

Domestic abuse was highlighted as their top area of concern particularly around an absence of education and how a ‘lack of awareness’ could ‘normalise behaviour’.

Crucially the report authors state: “The opinions of the project team, direct participants and anonymous voices of young people across Norfolk have given the PCC Youth Commission the opportunity to highlight gaps in information and champion ideas on how we can ensure access to support and resources for key issues.

“We also acknowledge that this project was conducted in some of the most difficult circumstances we have ever known when young people were, and still are, facing multiple practical and emotional challenges.

“Their resilience and commitment to improving information and services throughout this project has been inspiring.”

The findings have been highlighted in the Youth Commission’s final Phase 3 report which will help inform the wider work of the Office of the Norfolk Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCCN) which commissions victims’ services across the county including organisations which support victims of domestic abuse.

PCC Lorne Green said: “Who better to ask to seek the views of the younger generation about their thoughts and concerns during the pandemic than young people themselves.

“This year has been an unprecedented year for us all and I am enormously proud of the work of my Youth Commission whose report has reflected the truly inspiring nature of young people.

“As Victims' Commissioner for Norfolk and as the PCC reducing vulnerability and supporting victims has always been one of my key priorities and we must ensure all generations are listened to if we are to work effectively together to combat domestic abuse in Norfolk.”

The YC currently has around 50 members around 20 of whom took part in the three strategic project stages working with organisations across Norfolk in a bid to gain as much feedback as possible from peers.

Organisations have included Norfolk’s Youth Advisory Boards (YABs), The Matthew Project, Your Own Place, The Magdalene Group, Bridge in to Community and Moore Networking which helps young people with additional support needs into apprenticeships.

The Phase 1 report gave the Commission a broad overview of the key concerns among young people including, missing education, loneliness and isolation and mental and physical wellbeing. Domestic abuse and safeguarding were however cited as “a major concern”.

In the Phase 2 report the team looked at the top topics raised in the Phase 1 and decided that the focus going forward needed to be on a domestic abuse awareness campaign and children and young people contribution to mental health services.

“Domestic violence is, unfortunately, an increasing problem and many young people do not know how to deal with it,” said Youth Commissioner Sam Carruthers aged 16.

“The results of this report will go a long way to helping the young people of Norfolk better understand the signs of domestic abuse and the help that is available to them.”

Fellow YC member Andrew Copeman, 26, added: “It was really fascinating seeing the range of opinions and experiences of young people.  I’m glad to have provided an opportunity to voice them.” 

Praise for the Commission

“Unity have been delighted to participate in this work. In these difficult and uncertain times it’s vital that the voices of young people are heard and their feelings and views taken into account…

“Hopefully, as a result of the work done by the Norfolk Youth Commission during the COVID19 pandemic, more young people will be able to access the support they need to live healthy, positive and successful lives.”  

Ellie Coulson Unity Service and Data Manager The Matthew Project

“Thanks for the opportunity to contribute... young people and young adults want to be heard and see their experience and views reflected in policy so that they know policing is for them. It helps to make us all feel like a valued part of society.”

Lynn and Rachel at The Bridge Social Group 

“Young people spend much of their lives being told what to do – at home, school and in the workplace.   In responding to these external voices, young people can sometimes forget to listen to themselves.  This does them, and the world, a great disservice.  It is essential that we provide young people with a space where they teach us about our future.  I’m delighted to contribute towards the PCC Youth Commission project– a space where the hopes, dreams and fears of young people can be heard.”

Andrea Rippon, Director Stronger Relationships Ltd

“As a social enterprise, Moore Networking Ltd has seen the importance of work that engages young people in crime prevention activities.  We know from current and previous experiences that abuse has a potentially long-term negative impact on young people’s lives and makes engagement in work and learning so much more challenging.

“Enabling young people to support the work of the Police will help them be proactive in the prevention of domestic abuse and reduce offending behaviours, encouraging the next generation to be valued members of the community, which in turn will support them to become economically active and successful at an earlier age.”  

Paul Wright, Project Manager Moore Networking Ltd

Who are the Youth Commission?

Set up in 2017 by Lorne Green, the PCC’s Youth Commission, which now has its own Facebook account is a diverse group of young people, aged between 13 and 25, from all over the Norfolk policing area.

By being part of the Youth Commission, its members help shape decisions about crime and policing, supporting, challenging and informing the work of the PCC.

The Youth Commission has been established to enable young people to voice their opinions and be heard. By sharing their views and experiences of crime, policing and criminal justice system, the Commission seeks to ensure local decision-makers not only understand young people’s needs but are also working to meet them.

Through peer research, members take the work being done by the Commission to a wider youth audience, encouraging participation, gathering information and drawing conclusions to inform the recommendations they make to the PCC.