It was stormy weather over Westminster and the House of Commons in London as we entered this majestic building to meet with Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords for the first ever launch of the One Million Voices Research Report. This is the largest youth research ever undertaken for the age group of 15-24, and the report shows us that it is stormy weather out there for a majority of young people. The results from the YMCA One Million Voices Youth Research show strong examples of young people’s most important needs going unmet.
We recognise there is some fantastic impact being made by many YMCAs, but the global picture is that in the areas that young people said were most important to them the YMCA is not providing enough information, resources and help.
We took a risk to listen honestly and receive the feedback so we can serve more young people and serve them better. What we have heard teaches us and therefore it can also teach everyone who has a responsibility for young people.
Listen to what young people are saying today having read the report:
“Very cool”, “Thank you World YMCA!”, “This truly represents our voice, dreams and inspirations”, “Awesome job guys”, “World leaders: it is a big day for you. Today you have the opportunity to hear the voices of young people”.
It was loaded with deep symbolism when we were invited to Westminster and British Parliament to do the first ever launch of the YMCA research report. In the streets outside this famous building the YMCA was founded in 1844 and 171 years after we present the voice of the YMCA young people from all continents. George Williams would have been so proud.
KARL MCCARTNEY (MP), HOST OF THE LAUNCH EVENT IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS – THANK YOU, KARL!
The size and scale of this research means that we believe it is the largest ever research of young people aged 15-24 in terms of global coverage, random selection, face to face interviews and total numbers.
YMCAs in 55 countries have contributed to this and nearly 18,000 young people. Surprisingly the news is consistent amongst young people around the globe. The quality and robustness of the scientific methodology, overseen by Professor Fred Coalter, ensured random sampling and credible techniques for greater accuracy and results.
The respondents to this research were all in some way affiliated with our movement. This was for scientific reasons. To aim for the total youth population was outside of our financial reach, but we intend to aim for this in our coming research, and that will demand a sizeable budget.
NOEL, ONE OF THE ENGLISH CHANGE AGENTS STARTS IT OFF
The Research clearly shows that young people don’t have the information they believe they require for the most important areas of their lives. The nine priority areas that young people were surveyed about were:
- Job opportunities
- Human Rights
- Psychological/mental health
- Sexual/reproductive health
- Job requirements
- Workers’ rights
- Global environment
- Local environment
For example, 59% of young people say they do not have proper information for their number one need: employment. A link between lack of training and resources and information is shown.
DENISE HATTON, CEO YMCA ENGLAND
Schools and other institutions – including the YMCA – rate extremely low at being the ‘go to’ information sources. Instead, the young people who were surveyed turn in huge numbers to the unfiltered internet to fulfil their information needs, which in most cases, does not lead them to finding the answers they seek.
The results paint a disastrous picture of young people not engaging in politics, civic engagement opportunities and local communities. Nearly half of all young people (38%) are not interested in civic engagement. They do not believe they have a voice and can contribute, citing “lack of interest”. They are disillusioned, disengaged and disconnected.
CHANGE AGENTS FROM WALES TOGETHER WITH ANNE-MARIE ROGAN, THE LOCAL CEO
Mental health is a major life issue for young people and the most serious of challenges for communities. The YMCA results show that young people (36%) believe they have lower levels of information on mental health compared to other health issues.
Statistics show that suicide, the worst tragedy of mental health, continues to rise.
According to The World Health Organisation about 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems, with half of all mental disorders beginning before the age of 14. Only 20% of the Youth with a mental health condition receive the treatment they need.
MALCOLM (LOCAL YMCA CEO), KARL (MP), 8 CHANGE AGENTS FROM ENGLAND, PETER (PRESIDENT WORLD YMCA AND ME
85% of young people in the YMCA research state that the YMCA is a youth friendly organization, so we have a role to play in providing such support. Young people love the YMCA, but they do not find the answers to key life issues in the YMCA. Is this because we never really asked them before? And now that we have asked them and we are listening to the voices of young people, what are we going to do with the answers we get now?
MALCOLM AND JASON STACEY. JASON IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE ADVOCACY AND LOBBY WORK OF THE ENGLISH YMCA, AND WAS THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THIS EVENT IN WESTMINSTER – THANK YOU JASON!
The internet is the major source of information for young people’s most important aspects of life, compared to schools, religious organisations, institutions and the YMCA.
The YMCA research shows internet usage for a third of respondents is over 11 hours per week across the globe for young people. And what do they find in this unregulated world? The largest Google search results are about “death and destruction”.
AT MY SIDE JOHN NAYLOR, PRESIDENT YMCA SCOTLAND AND MIKE WILL, CHAIR OF THE BOARD
Next day I moved from London to Edinburgh for the next international launch event in Scotland. The event was fully booked and a great number of youth agencies from around Scotland came together with YMCA leaders from around the country. The setting was inspirational and the atmosphere almost electrical. The event was very well prepared by Crawford, one of the Executive Secretaries at the National YMCA and Kerry Knox, my old friend and National General Secretary. Mike Will is both the Board Chair in Scotland and the member of the World Executive Committee, and it was fabulous to meet John Naylor again, the President of the Scottish YMCA. I met John first time in the 1980s when he served as the CEO of YMCA England.
STEPHANIE, ONE OF THE CHANGE AGENTS FROM SCOTLAND
Stephanie opened the event in a very solid way, representing both the youth of the world and the Change Agents from Scotland. It was a convincing message about the significance of this day and of this report. Below you can see one of the videos we are using for all the launches around the world to tell the story behind the research:
Where are the reliable people who are the positive influencers and information sources our young people can rely upon? The YMCA must become known for much more than just the old YMCA song. Change is needed. Youth empowerment is needed. These results speak loudly to where the YMCA can make a big contribution to improving the lives of young people for the future.
THE REPORT ITSELF
The report is printed in two books, and they come together when you order the report. One is the scientific analysis by Prof Fred Coalter, our scientific advisor, the other is the narrative e report, what we believe we can learn and interviews with our Change Agents. This is the untold story that now comes to life for our future. And it is a fascinating story, I can promise you! We now know more about young people’s needs, and now we need to know more about the internet, mental health, suicide rates and more.
We have interpreted the scientific data of the Report of Professor Fred Coalter and, based with other research and our long YMCA experience, believe we have found a deep vein of need for the world’s young people. This is giving us aggressive truth through this scientific Report.
CRAWFORD, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY FROM THE NATIONAL OFFICE, AND THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THE EVENT IN EDINBURGH – THANK YOU CRAWFORD!
Youth empowerment is the work of every YMCA. This Research is what informs us. This allows us to respond, to react, to change our strategy and therefore improve our impact by being more relevant to the young people we want to serve.
STEWART IS THE SECOND CHANGE AGENT FROM SCOTLAND
The YMCA movement has committed to this research programme as part of its ongoing strategy. The second survey will be launched in May, 2016 with results to be released in 2018.
KERRY KNOX, GENERAL SECRETARY YMCA SCOTLAND IN THE MIDDLE TO THE LEFT SURROUNDED BY CHANGE AGENTS AND GOVERNANCE. TO MY RIGHT JAMIE LOCKHART – TWO TIMES STAFF PLACEMENT IN GENEVA AND A GREAT HELPER WITH THE PROCESSING OF THE DATA
JOHN NAYLOR, THE PRESIDENT OF YMCA SCOTLAND, CONCLUDED THE LAUNCH WITH AN EMOTIONAL SPEECH
The evening before he had been to the Scottish Parliament to participate in a debate about Child abuse. John said: “If we had ever listened to the young people 30 years back, what a different world we would have had today!”
A BIG THANK YOU TO OUR HOSTS IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND ! AND A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO MADE THE ONE MILLION VOICES RESEARCH BECOME REALITY !
So, dear readers of the Blue Music Blog – please order the report from us by clicking on the link below, market it and tell friends and colleagues about it. We are eager to spread the voices of the young people to all corners of the world. And I promise you, reading this report will get you loads of inspiration and encouragement to continue to fight for “YMCA Empowering Young People!”