This blog by ‘Ally’ reflects on his time as a member of Positive Young Voices, Positive Futures and the skills he has learned whilst on work placement from prison.
My experience of working with Positive Young Voices, Positive Futures (PYVPF) has proven to be a positive and productive one which I have extremely enjoyed. This is a unique and inclusive project which will change lives in a way no other project could. This is due to the specific group of people that will benefit from our work. We will be reaching out to young people who have been affected by the justice system by one way or another, giving them a voice and a platform to be heard.
Working with PYVPF has proven to be challenging at times as it has been difficult to recruit and attract young people and organisations involved. Barriers like this have been tricky to tackle as our vision and goal is unique and complex. PVYPF seek to get young people with experience of the justice system to form a group, with the ambition of having young people elected to the Scottish Youth Parliament in 2021. Recently we have been focusing on marketing and advertising the project via designing posters, induction books and posting photos and information on social media.
I got involved with the PYVPF project via volunteering at the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC). This is my work placement where I volunteer as part of my progression into society from prison. A fellow colleague at WSREC received an email – from my old social worker! – about a taster session for a new project that was starting up (which ended up being PYVPF) and was originally called Amplifying the Voice Of Young People. Due to the nature of the project my colleague forwarded the email to me as it is relevant to me and I could benefit from the project.
I attended the taster session in Kinning Park where we heard the stories of some inspiring people and young people who have been affected by the system. I spoke to Lizzie and the other staff from Positive Prison? Positive Futures and they wanted to speak further with me about getting involved in the new project. Lizzie and I met up with WSREC to discuss how I could be a part of the new project. I then was introduced to Jo who would be taking on a role within the group to help get the group started. I attended a lunch meeting with PYVPF to discuss what we will name the project and how we can go forward with it. I’ve really enjoyed my time here.
I have attended various meetings with PYVPF in the company of members of staff from WSREC and other members from the group to discuss what themes and issues we want to be focused on. WSREC is an equality council who works closely with ethnic minorities combating a vast range of issues and challenges. WSREC works in the third sector and survives through funding for projects. There are a number of different projects which run simultaneously supporting ethnic minorities with climate change, technology, hate crime, advocacy and healthy living in general. WSREC has benefited me massively as I am working with the public every day, helping people who are experiencing different problems from me. I have improved my IT skills as a large part of my duties is administrative based. I also ran my own project called ‘Healthy Working Lives’ which involved information campaigning on various fields regarding healthy living. Having the responsibility with running ‘Healthy Working Lives’ has giving me the confidence and skills to work with PYVPF assisting them in marketing and advertising.
I am writing this blog because I want to encourage other young people in my position to join PYVPF. It can be a way to make friends, become more confident and hopefully use the position within Youth Parliament to change the way people with convictions are dealt with.
If you are aged 16-25, have experience of the justice system and are interested in joining PYVPF please get in touch with Jo McGhee via Johanna.McGhee@positiveprison.org.