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Being heard

Ricky Sykes

In a series of recorded interviews, User Voice’s Ricky Sykes gets a different look at the lives of the young people he works with

One of the highlights of my work with User Voice so far has definitely been interviewing young people for this section of theRecord. So often the tools people use to communicate can prevent them from being heard, but not everyone’s a dab hand with a computer or a keen writer. So to make sure that everyone who wanted to say something was given the opportunity to do so, I took on a reporter role and did some recorded interviews.

I absolutely love my work at User Voice and I try to create a positive, nurturing atmosphere for the young people so they know that I’m there for them. They need to know I’m not just going to quit on them when things get tough. I’ve heard of some youth workers really getting upset when they’re not obeyed, but you can’t take someone else’s life choices personally. If someone doesn’t follow my advice I absolutely can’t make it about me. This is their journey, not mine.

I really enjoyed interviewing the participants, but it was rather strange, because it gave me a completely new perspective on their lives. I had thought it would be just like any other conversation I’d had with them, but it really opened my eyes. J, who endured horrific injuries from gun crime, asked for photos of his scars to be included in his interview to help highlight the effects of guns and gangs. I already knew about his injuries but hearing it on a recording just added another level to the whole experience. It made everything bigger and put it in a wider context. I think it was brilliant for all the young people; it was another way for them to see just how much they matter – not just to their friends and families or youth workers, but to society.

Their stories, views and experiences really matter.

Taken from Issue 19

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