My name is Saleha and I am a young volunteer at Participation People.
I have been working with Participation People since 2020 and will be here for as long as I can be as a young person – until I get too old to do what I do – and I wanted to outline some of the reasons why.
Why I love Participation People
I love Participation People because I get to be cheeky and be myself with the staff team.
When I came to my first session, I was a very shy person. I did not really talk and my nerves got the better of me. But after a couple of months, I started being more me as I felt more comfortable around the Participation People Team and other young people I was volunteering with.
The Participation People team makes it very accessible for me. They suit my needs and are very inclusive. I say this because at some organisations I have been discriminated against before, and overlooked, which led me to leave after a couple of months. However, Participation People was the very opposite of that. My experience has been so amazing that they definitely won’t get rid of me – I will be involving myself as much as possible in different projects.
The projects I’ve been involved with are Birmingham Young Researchers (BYR) and Acacium (ACM) Mental Health Super Heroes.
The Birmingham Young Researchers project was all about making Brum a better place to live and grow up in, over the next 10 years. Plus reviewing what services needed to do, to be better for young people. This meant I was trained by Participation People to design surveys, facilitate focus groups and run interviews with other young people all across my city. Me and the other Young Researchers discussed how to make healthcare services, mental health services, knife crime, and schools better with young people’s views at the heart of everything. My confidence grew so much, I signed up to another project!
The Acacium project got me involved in something called User Experience testing. I had no idea what this was before I started, but trusted Participation People would help train and support me to understand. I worked with a team of other young people from across England. Together, we used our own experiences of waiting for mental health support to co-create a web-based platform with designers. We talked about how it was important for adults to think about gender, confidentiality and emergency help, and we also looked at how it would work and be supportive for young people – including using a Chatbot we called Chatty.
What I’m working on now
The current project I am involved with is Stand Out Young Champions and I am also a Young Consultant for Participation People. Stand Out Young Champions involves me working with employers to improve how young people find and get jobs in the West Midlands. Because I have a physical disability and learning difficulties, I can share my own insights into what would work for me and what wouldn’t work for me.
Lastly, I am a Young Consultant for Participation People. My job is to help train other adults on how to make things better for young people. I get paid for this, which is brilliant!
I love Participation People because I am involved in so many different projects and most of all each of them have been a lot of FUN. In life my passion is to support individuals who have disabilities but mainly in the mental health sector. Participation People have helped me do that with all of their projects and I feel like I have made a big impact with some big decision makers.
Participation People has been a big part of my life since 2020. If I were to do it all again, I would be more me (this means being cheeky from the start lol) and not be scared.
The one piece of advice I would give young people who are considering volunteering with Participation People is ‘be yourself and don’t be afraid to express your views – and HAVE FUN!”
Participation People has given me a voice that I never had before. I can now speak up for myself. Before Participation People I wouldn’t speak in front of decision-makers or have my camera on in a virtual meeting because to me adults are big scary people who have a lot of power.
Through Participation People’s projects I have pushed myself to present in front of decision-makers. The biggest impact I have had is being more confident and being able to say what I want in front of big decision-makers because each project I do with Participation People is personal to me and is about my experiences. I don’t have to pretend to be anyone else, I can just be me.
Participation People has strengthened my mental health, mainly because of CEO Antonia Dixey. She listens to me and I keep her on her toes most of the time lol. She’s a wicked CEO and will be there for you in your times of need. If you want to volunteer or work for Participation People come and join the mad team lol, you won’t regret it and there’s bare fun.
Thinking of getting involved with one of our projects? We’d love to hear from you.