RoSPA and youth involvement

RoSPA is constantly trying to raise its profile among young people, and we have been working with Changemakers’ young advocates for some years now. By working with young people, it’s helping us to learn about the benefits that young people can bring to the organisation, contributing to our mission to save lives and reduce injuries.

Our most recent young advocate, Zahida Begum, undertook a project which allowed her to gain an insight into the challenges faced by young parents. RoSPA would not have been able to get this research completed by commissioning a consultant or through any other ongoing RoSPA work.

Her research is now up on the RoSPA website, and makes for interesting reading. Entitled “Investigating home safety amongst young parents”, it aimed to gain an insight into how safety messages could be better tailored to meet the needs of this group.

Zahida, from Saltley in Birmingham, carried out four focus groups and workshops with 26 young people who are or were teenage parents. The sessions were very successful, and the researchers were able to conclude that educating young parents is crucial to raising awareness of potential risks and dangers.

As well as advocating further investigation, the research made the following recommendations:

  • Increase media coverage of home safety messages via channels that will reach teenagers and young people, such as social networking
  • Implement mandatory sessions in secondary education targeting 14-16-year-olds that focus on child and home safety
  • Encourage young parents to design useful gadgets containing safety messages, such as fridge magnets
  • Include information about available safety equipment in the Bounty pack that pregnant women receive
  • Introduce an automated text message service providing information and advice about home safety issues
  • Train young parents to spread safety messages, training and information to their peers.

Attitudes to home safety among teenage parents is not a topic that has been under much scrutiny in the past, and is not well understood – but ensuring that this group of parents has access to basic safety information is vital in preventing injuries to children.

As the research has shown, home safety messages are often not getting through to young parents – either because they are not reaching them at all, or because they do not see the information as relevant to them. A new approach is needed, and Zahida’s research is a great place to start.

Changemakers is a charity based in London, and has been around since 1994. It advocates to policy makers and funders a young person-led approach to action and learning, and supports organisations to develop good practice where young people are concerned.

The organisation bases this aim on the proven experience that giving young people ownership of their actions and learning is highly motivating for both the young people themselves, and the adults and organisations supporting them.

So why did RoSPA get involved? Well, the Future Leaders programme is designed for organisations which want to improve or increase the ways that they engage with young people. Future Leaders was launched in October 2008 and we are now entering the fourth round of the programme.

Previous young advocates who have worked with RoSPA are: Alysha Ong, who undertook a project on young drivers; Rohan Bennett, who took a look at young male drivers; and Vanessa Baxter, who did some work with our water safety department.

I first encountered the Future Leaders programme when I started working at RoSPA – Alysha was working in our road safety department. I carried on with the programme because I saw it as a great way of developing young people’s leadership skills and it works to help RoSPA grow its youth participation work. We are continuing to work to raise our profile among young people, but we’ve got a long way to go.

As RoSPA’s youth liaison officer, I’m planning to establish a young people’s reference group and I hope that RoSPA will also pursue the Hear by Right youth participation award later this year.

I also look after RoSPA’s youth participation Facebook page – come and take a look, and tell us how we can make safety more relevant to young people.

Cassius Francis

RoSPA’s Youth Liaison Officer

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