Make a difference to your local community this Power of Youth Day

Date published: 02 June 2021

Sarah Mahmood, a former Member of Rochdale Youth Parliament and recipient of a Diana Award, has shared her top ways that young people can become involved in their communities for Power of Youth Day, which is held on 2 June each year.

In a blog post for the Diana Award, reproduced here with kind permission, Sarah highlights the importance of youths making a difference.

Power of Youth Day is an annual celebration of the contributions young people make to society through volunteering and social action, a chance to spotlight the achievements of young people and inspire young people to make a difference.

Since a young age, I’ve always been interested in making a difference to my local community in any way possible. Living in a deprived area (Rochdale), where society has always struggled to meet their basic needs, motivated me to address this issue and do something that will change the future for the better.

I was further inspired when I came across this quote from Kailash Satyarthi: “The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.”

The great thing about taking action in your community, is that it is mutually beneficial, and through doing so young people can see for themselves the difference they can make.

A few years ago, I began to realise that mental health is not treated with the same reverence as a physical health issue, despite it having the same debilitating effects, this was a problem locally, nationally and internationally.

I decided to run for the local elections and I became Member of UK Youth Parliament, with a record- breaking 3,804 votes. I was so pleased to see that young people in my borough put their trust in me and I was so excited to start making a positive difference.

Through my term as MYP, I campaigned for mental health funding, by chairing meetings, working with #thrive and, debating in the House of Commons and organising awareness events.

Also, during mental health awareness week, I visited several local schools in my area and educated young people on this important issue. I was so thrilled when I secured two positions for mental health workers in Rochdale, and they continue to support young people, which makes me so happy and I’m glad I could make that difference.

I believe everyone with a mental health problem should be able to access excellent care and services. Every person affected should be treated fairly, positively and with respect. If we are going to develop a mentally healthy society, giving people the tools to thrive mentally is also fundamental. Resilience is a universal skill we all need to help each other learn to successfully navigate life.

Apart from mental health, I’ve also raised awareness on several other topics, including transport, drugs abuse and smoking, just to name a few. I’ve worked tirelessly to do my part in making the world a better place; have you done your part?

Imagine if someone can access support to mental health services because of you. Imagine if someone is educated about smoking and decide to stop because of you. Imagine if poverty is reduced in your community because you raised money by organising an event.

Public awareness is important to increase enthusiasm and support, stimulate self-mobilisation and action, and mobilise local knowledge and resources. Raising political awareness is important as policy makers and politicians are key actors in the policy process of adaptation.

There are multiple awareness-raising strategies, methods and tools that can be used to convey and spread messages, and to gather the support necessary to influence public opinion.

Depending on the topic, awareness-raising efforts may include the following activities: issuing press releases, briefings and commentaries; disseminating reports, studies and publications; making written or oral submissions to parliamentary committees and inquiries; working with the media; holding public meetings and events; convening conferences and workshops; and creating and contributing to educational materials.

Messaging campaigns should be clear and simple, associated with a campaign logo or a consistent image, sustained over time, and should form part of a larger coordinated strategy. Awareness campaigns may include events, poster campaigns, websites, documentaries, newspaper articles, radio, TV, or theatre programs – creative, innovative ways of sharing information with the community can increase the success of awareness raising efforts.

So, how can you make a difference?:

  • Contact your local charity shops and ask if you can volunteer there, as your passionate about making a difference. You can make a difference by organising charity events, for example, Quiz night, Makeup Masterclass, Dress to Impress Ball. Make sure you inform the local community through posters and social media so you have the best turnout.
  • Educate yourself on your local community. Making a difference should start off small in your area. Email your local council asking for key issues that need tackling. After discovering this, think about ways you can improve these issues. Gather a group of friends and discuss ways you can make a change.
  • Finally, the most important tip is to be mindful of those around you. Little things make a big difference. Maybe you can help your classmate who is struggling or help the old lady with her shopping. These acts of kindness have a large impact and truly make the world a better place.

What will you do today that will positively change the world for the better?

Sarah Mahmood, former Member of Rochdale Youth Parliament and recipient of a Diana Award


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