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Southend YMCA and me: Emily Harris

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

Hi, my name is Emily Harris, I’m a Youth Commissioner with Southend YMCA and I’d like to tell you about what it’s like to work in the position.

Just before the first lockdown, I received an email inviting me to apply for a position with the YMCA, at first I was kind of resistant and didn’t want to take on the challenge of writing an application or going to an interview but I had completed a mentoring course with the YMCA the previous year and knew that working there would be an amazing opportunity. I wrote an application and was accepted to an interview over zoom, which was a bit scary as it was the first time I’d done an interview, but a few weeks later I was told I had got the position.

Now I work with four other young people who are also Youth Commissioners on a project called Find Your Voice, FYV for short (like the number), we are building projects designed to help young people. We have five main areas we classify our projects in; Justice and Equality, Health and Wellbeing, Passion and Creativity, Skills and Training, Voice and Empowerment.

So far I’d say our most successful project has been the Face It challenge in which we asked young people all over the country to design a face mask. This was done in an effort to make face masks less daunting and to help young people voice their opinions on the masks, COVID-19, lockdown and how it was affecting them.

My favourite project would have to be the Fix It Fund in which young people are given the opportunity to work on their own project with the financial assistance of a £500 grant. I think it's incredibly important that young people are given the opportunity to develop their independence and creativity, it is even more important that we are given the opportunity to prove to ourselves our capabilities.

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