During the evening of 14th November 2018, Blackpool Youth Council held their annual youth summit, this is where the top 3 issues from the national Make your Mark campaign were discussed. These issues were voted for by Blackpool young people, which were Mental health, Put an end to Knife Crime and A Curriculum to Prepare us for Life.
Mental Health was an issue that the young people felt strongly about. Young people from the audience questioned about exam stress, the general points were made that the exams can’t change in terms of content however the resources available can be provided and services can be changed to help support younger children during this period. Another point that was made was the resilience levels and how it should be taught in schools/colleges and how to sign post if needs be. Factors that affect mental health in schools and colleges especially during exam periods were due to cost as the panel members stated it is more cost effective to have exam halls rather than one to ones. An issue that was also raised about mental health, the stigma is still present and schools have a lack of knowledge around supporting young people with mental health, the panel suggested away to reduce the stigma by using different language rather than using more academic words for example using Mental Wealth rather than Mental health. Lancashire Police in particular highlighted they are working to talk more openly about Mental Health, and are encouraging the workforce to be more open about difficulties It was highlighted that there was a lack of knowledge about support services to help young people deal with their mental wellbeing.
An extra topic discussed was based around asking the panel about why LGBT young people feature so highly in suicide and homelessness statistics and what is being done to address it. The panel highlighted the work done by the voluntary sector such as URPotential are doing. The program Stacey Dooley did around homelessness in Blackpool/Manchester was discussed, with the good work by Streetlife being highlighted, however this is only a temporary solution with only eight beds, so there needs to be more support in Blackpool. There was a discussion around where is the safest place for young people to go, as home may not always be a safe place to return. The police acknowledge previously they may have sought to take young people home to family but now listening to young people and asking where they feel safe. The importance of relationships being highlighted. Young people should feel supported to identify people they feel comfortable to talk to.
The discussion around knife crime revealed that knives and other offensive weapons are being carried by young people, undetected. Recorded knife crime in Blackpool however, is very low compared to other areas across the country, with the police stating stats show 1 person under 18 years of age being the victim of knife crime in Blackpool since January 2018. Young people said that many people felt unsafe living in Blackpool and that a feeling of safety and protection was a primary cause of knife possession. There was also a consensus that knife crime should be a topic that schools should educate their students upon. The panel were also surprised when the question was put to the audience regarding how many people knew someone who carried a knife, with around ¾ of the room raising their hand.
Curriculum for life was a point of discussion where it was discussed about the lack of knowledge people have about basic life necessities for example how to cook and iron. A questionnaire was given out to all young people on the night asking if they agreed with the topics of Curriculum for Life and if these were of the same importance. Additionally, it was asked if the topics were currently being taught already, and where from. From this Blackpool Youth Council are planning to work with local young people to design a Curriculum for life package that school can adopt.