Year of Young People – Social Media Takeover
High Life Highland
Young people who volunteered as Ambassadors for ‘Year of Young People 2018’ (YOYP) who represented different youth sector organisations across the Highland Region. The young people involved in the project were aged 14-25.
To nurture a democratic process and tip the balance of power in young people’s favour.
The practice was developed from a meeting between adults and young people with the focus on Highland’s contribution to Year of Young People 2018.
The two key themes chosen were Participation and Equality & Diversity.
It was decided we would use a Facebook group ‘Communications Hub’ to bring this group of adults and young people together, as the geographical spread of people was vast.
We had an official YOYP Highland launch day and it was here the idea for the social media project and using the Facebook page/Twitter/Instagram to document and share Highland young peoples’ lived experience, shining a light on existing activities, took shape. Young people said they didn’t want to be restricted by specific organisations’ social media policies or adult censorship when posting on social media, they could already do this on their own social media profiles.
Adults wanted to work with young people and share the YOYP experience and develop the Participation theme, so we decided to see if we could create platforms for young people to manage and post from, with supporting youth workers in the background.
Organisational risk was managed by the project name being used at the front on the social media platforms: ‘YOYP Highland’. We had a conversation with young people about posting online and being in the public sphere, representing young people in Highland and the youth work sector, and this seemed to be proportional to the age and stage of young people’s development. It was a critical and reflective conversation and not so much about the ‘don’t do this’ narrative which exists in the public discourse.
The Facebook group ‘comms hub’ was the back office for sharing ideas and developing themes about what to post on the public facing platforms. There were an equal number of adults and young people in this group and it became apparent some young people were reluctant to post.
Personal messenger and group chats developed and it was young people who instigated this. The first attempt at a group chat was 1 adult and 15 young people, which was unwieldly, but it set the tone as the project progressed and smaller group chats stemmed from this. Having personal messenger conversations with all young people kept engagement and momentum in the project – reflective of what happens when doing face to face work.
Smart phone, laptop with a webcam and headset, and social media accounts and backing of senior managers.
The lead youth worker, John Taylor, was a finalist in the Digital Youth Work category of the National Youth Work Awards 2019. He was presented with a book, with photos and wonderful feedback from young people about how much they got out of the project.
The practice has been evaluated by the overarching outcome – An insistence upon a democratic process, within which every effort is made to ensure that young people play the fullest part in making decisions about anything affecting them.
It has brought national recognition to High Life Highland, through delivering a workshop at the National Youth Work Conference and being a finalist at the National Youth Work Awards. We also gained recognition from elected members at Highland Council and Members of the Scottish Parliament.