Youth councils have been set up and used by many Scout Counties and have been a useful tool to collect the views and opinions of young people to help shape and move the vision and strategy forward.
As well as County youth councils, Districts would also benefit from setting up a similar council and the same guidance below applies.
Organise a youth council and event
To organise a successful youth council, you can use the following steps as a guide.
1. Do your research
Consider the following questions:
- Why are you organising a youth council?
- What do you aim to achieve by the end of the first youth council?
- What do you aim to achieve for the young people?
- How will the County/District team engage with the youth council?
2. Find your audience
Who would you like to engage at the youth council and do you have a set age group, section or area in mind? Not only will you need to think about the young people that you want to invite but also:
- Where will you host the youth council, eg a central location to the District/County, local Scout Activity Centre etc?
- How many young people will you be inviting and can you host in the chosen venue?
- How many young people would be a representative number from the County/District?
- How will the young people gather feedback from others and how will they be identified at events and online so people can offer suggestions.
- Is there a County Network? The Scout Network Committee is a good resource base to start with. Find out what they think and get details for people who would like to be involved.
3. Plan the youth council event
Think about the following as part of planning the actual event:
- How much budget do you have to run the event and what does it cover?
- Will the event be subsidised by Districts or the County?
- Ask the young people what format they would prefer the event, eg a whole day, an evening or a residential event.
- Get a date in the diary and book the venue.
- Publicise the event, eg Facebook page, word of mouth, website etc. Publicise directly with the young people if you can.
- What will the event consist of? Keep the young people heavily involved in this.
4. The event
- Make sure you are clear with participants from the start about what you want to achieve and also the importance of the council.
- Give young people the chance to shape it how they want it.
- Be aware of the barriers to participation such as lack of confidence by young people, lack of information on how to get involved, lack of time available and transport issues.
- Could Network members get involved and help run the event?
- Ask young people how they want to receive feedback and what method of communication would they prefer?
5. Post event
- After the event, evaluate and meet with key people to decide what happens next.
- Make sure that the youth council’s voice is heard and that actions are taken.
- Make sure that young people receive feedback on what has happened with the outcomes from the council.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to young people, but explain the reasoning and be willing to explore alternatives.
- Be prepared. You may need to change plans and adapt to the changing need of young people as well as adults, so be prepared for what the young people have said and to take it onboard.