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By Max Popham, Healthwatch Somerset Youth Engagement Officer.

On Saturday 24 April, we had our first Young Listeners meeting to kick off the series of training sessions for our Young Listeners Project.

For those of you who haven’t heard, we are running a project that gives young people a voice to speak about the health and social care services they use.  We want to empower young people to find out what’s good and what could be improved.  The project will be designed and delivered by a group of volunteer Young Listeners, with our support and training.

In this first session our volunteers got together for a bit of fun and team building.  Nine young people aged between 12 and 18 joined us online, to meet and get to know the people they will be learning and working with in the coming weeks.  A few musicians, some dancers in training, budding athletes, and artists to name but a few.  They were all a little shy to begin with, but as the session went on it was great to see them relax and enjoy the team building games and activities I’d organised.

We started with a general knowledge quiz; How well do you know your Weasley siblings?  Who plays Eleven in Stranger Things?  Can you name the Simpson family’s dog?  Our Young Listeners can, and though it was a close score, Grace came out on top with 13/20.

But did the fun stop there?  Well, if you ask anyone who doesn’t like Pictionary, yes.  Our Young Listeners (after a brief explanation of how it worked) took to the virtual canvas and brought to life some masterpieces including a box of popcorn, a circus tent, a gingerbread man and many more.  After each of them had had a chance to draw, it was all tied up between the two teams, to be settled with a game of charades.

Bay, Speilberg, Abrams – all would have been left a gasp at the theatrical performances our Young Listeners displayed.  Two words.  Film.  First word… you’re rubbing your stomach and can’t stop giggling.  “Hunger Games!” and a point to team two.

In the end, one team rose above the other, though both did admirably with only two points in it [*Round of applause*] and all will be sent a little something to start their journey as Young Listeners.

It was great to see such a lovely group of young people interacting despite the hard times they have been through in the last year and a bit.  I cannot wait to see what they can do, to hear their ideas about the project, and to work with them to make it happen!

Our meetings will now take place every Saturday morning.  As we move on, we will be looking at subjects like interview skills, communication dos and don’ts, maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing, and so much more, all linked in with the AQA Unit Award Scheme.  These bright young minds will have plenty to show for volunteering their time for the betterment of young people all across Somerset.

Next Week, we’ll be exploring mindfulness, because we all need to take a break sometimes!

For more information:

Visit the Young Listeners project page