Youth Panel Blog - Phoebe Harland

Youth Panel member Phoebe Harland has written a blog about the latest England Athletics Youth Panel meeting, what updates, reports and ideas were discussed and the benefit of the outcomes of some of the Youth Panels initiatives.

On the 9th December 2017, when heavy snow was settling across the UK, the England Athletics Youth Panel met in Nottingham. Unfortunately, due to a combination of the snowfall and unpredictable train strikes some members were unable to attend. However, we still had a very successful meeting with many positive outcomes!

We started by updating each other on the progress we had made individually in promoting the YP across the country. Many people had either been in touch with their clubs, had updated their coaches and fellow athletes or had raised awareness of the YP within their university or school. Following on from this, some clubs have now formed their own Youth Panel to help improve the way youth volunteers are being treated and represented.

We were pleased to hear that the ideas that we generated in our last meeting had been used to inform and guide a new RunTogether project entitled ‘RunTogether: Satellite Clubs’ aimed at targeting younger athletes (from 14 to 25) to get involved in group running activities. We were excited to know that our help is being used positively to benefit the community.

Having spent our last meeting discussing how to promote youth volunteering and how to maintain people’s interest and motivation, we were delighted to hear that Sophie‘s Club (Preston) had a new scheme called ‘Silent Star’ which helped to recognise club volunteers who usually go unnoticed. This is an initiative that we would love all clubs to promote.

We were then lucky enough to meet a lovely member of the Spirit of 2012 Youth Advisory Panel (Hayley Bennett). This was very interesting as we heard plenty about the wonderful projects which they had been working on in communities around the UK. The projects were not just sport related, with some focusing on promoting community spirit by embracing different peoples cultural backgrounds, through the arts such as dance and music. It was amazing to see the difference that the various projects are making to people’s lives.

Furthermore, Hayley gave us some useful tips about how to work well as a Youth Panel. She informed us of the best social media sites and communication apps and we implemented a group chat where we contact each other to figure out how we can best support the young athletes and volunteers in England. Recently, we’ve also had a ‘face to face’ Skype call to organise a presentation and gather ideas for the next meeting.

After lunch, we looked at the Youth Panel proposed logo designs, created by Blue Stag, which would be used on our social media sites and our new kit. We liked several designs, so sent the company our combined feedback and after a lot of discussion and voting following our meeting, we have now chosen a logo!

We also spent time discussing how we could best promote the Youth Panel on social media. We planned to create a twitter account with appropriate news articles, quotes and pictures, to both motivate younger people to participate in athletics, running and volunteering as well as showcasing the wide range of things that the Youth Panel are involved in.

Finally, we discussed our plans for the workshop we are hosting on ‘How to get the most from involving young people in volunteering within Athletics and Running’ at the Volunteer Conference on the 3rd February at Birmingham University.

We’re all looking forward to catching up at the next meeting in March!