“My name is Chantelle, I am 24 years old. I have been working with Young Gloucestershire for over a year now as a Peer Researcher as part of the South West Peer Action Collective (PAC). This is an exciting delivery partnership between Young Gloucestershire, Young Devon, Space and Youth Moves to explore the topic of youth violence. The project is truly unique employing young people as peer researchers to help understand more about the causes, prevention and impact of youth violence in our communities.

“Growing up wasn’t always easy for me, I found myself surrounded by some sort of violence wherever I was. I didn’t realise the effects it had on me growing up and becoming a woman. Having these daily experiences of violence led me to be in a constant state of fight or flight. Being a self-aware person, I knew the situations I was experiencing and brought up in weren’t healthy; I knew I had to get the right help and start my healing process; I have been on that journey now for three years.

“I have used a few of the services YG provide for young people. I took part in the Prince’s Trust program in the summer of 2021 and found it to be extremely beneficial. This was after the Covid-19 pandemic so getting out there, meeting and talking with other young people struggling with similar problems really helped me and my confidence.

“A strong passion of mine has always been to help care for people and give back to the community. When YG offered me this job as a peer researcher, I knew I would be great for the role as my past experiences and trauma have helped me to understand what others are experiencing. The special part about this project is that it is run by young people to get young people's voices heard and that's so important to me and I'm sure other young people around Gloucestershire would agree. What drew me to this project is the deep connection I have with youth violence and my personal experiences with violence.

“The Peer Action Collective (PAC) project is an 18-month long national project with a local team of young people from across England and Wales who will be:

  • Researching what causes youth violence by talking to other young people about it.
  • Trying to understand more about what can stop violence affecting young people and their communities.
  • Building a movement of young people, who want to have their say and change things.
     

“The project started with training in Taunton, this was an amazing opportunity to meet and get to know the other peer researchers from the South West team. During training, we got a better understanding of what we have to do, our mission and goals and how to get PAC up and running. We then started to do workshops and interviews to collect data and gather information on young people’s thoughts and opinions about youth violence. We also asked them about ways they think we can help the community reduce violence.

“One of the activities included our first creative workshop. We had a roll of paper with an overarching question; ‘What would a world without violence look like?’ We asked participants of all ages to either draw, write, cut or stick what they imagine a world without violence would look like using magazines, newspapers, or pure imagination. This activity worked very well and gave us an idea of what people in our community feel and what would make them feel safer.

“We used the data from our first creative workshop to guide us where we wanted to take the project next. We have decided to focus on the causes of youth violence, especially around Gloucestershire. We started to contact schools, colleges, supported living and other places to try and recruit young people so that their voices are heard. Our aim is to talk and listen to as many young people as we can with the hope of creating a social action within our community.

“We are planning our next creative workshop involving games, discussions, interviews and focus groups. Our main questions are:

1. What do you think leads to youth violence?

2. What is it that might lead young people to be more involved in youth violence?

3. What do you think can help your community reduce youth violence, how and why?

“We are hoping by asking these questions, it will give us the data we will need for our next step in this project. That is to take action and give our community the help and resources it needs to make it a better/safer place for everyone. The PAC project has great ambition of aims to create change. I feel as a young person myself, that this generation of young people have the power to have their voices heard and I hope to be part of the social action that will ensure this.

"In order to make this social action successful we are currently recruiting young people between the ages of 10 and 20 to join us and become ‘Change Makers.’ This role puts young people at the forefront of our social action plans. They don’t need to have any prior experience; we are just looking for people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and want to make a change.

Young people wanting to be a Change Maker may develop skills in:

• Communicating with people – including people you don’t know.

• Working well together – supporting your team-mates.

• Creative and skillful - writing/ interviewing/ film/ art/ theatre etc.

• Organised and thoughtful - facilitating/ planning/ analysing results.

“We are always looking for young people to volunteer and have their voices heard. If anyone is interested, they can get in touch with us by emailing getinvolved@youngglos.org.uk

“I am forever grateful I am here today as many times I thought I wouldn’t be. So to be part of this project and to be able to help in any shape or form other young people is truly amazing and I hope others will join me on this amazing project to reduce youth violence in our community.”

Pictured: The South West PAC team of researchers and Change Makers.

The funders supporting us in this mission are: