My name is Tori-Jade Davies and I used to live at CHADD On-Route Foyer in the West Midlands. Over the past two years I have found myself and 'come out of my shell', and that's all thanks to the youth power and leadership projects that I've had the opportunity to work on. I've truly found more confidence within myself and my ability to speak to others, and I don’t think I could have done this without help from the wonderful staff at the Foyer Federation who allowed me to be involved in such an amazing project.
Our progress so far
Thanks to the guidance and funding, we've been able to bring together a community of young people who all want to act and make a change in the area that they live and work in. We've ignited a passion in the youth of Dudley to stand up and make a change for what they believe in. We've been paving the way for the future by taking action, challenging those in authority and asking questions that others may be too afraid to ask. We created three groups of passionate young people, each working side by side, who focused on three main areas of concern in our area:
1. Dudley Young People's Alliance steering group:
- A group of young people from different organisations across Dudley who aim to make a change in the area that they live in by raising questions with Governors, the council and the organisations that they work with.
2. CHADD Your Voice:
- A committee within CHADD On-Route Foyer that aims to make changes and improve the Foyer in which we live and work
- Previously two of our members asked to attend a board meeting with the directors of CHADD. Asking for a seat at the table led to a huge dent Young people taking part in the board meeting led to a big change in the way that the Foyer was run. We are now in the middle of creating a young people's board group, where young people can discuss their most pressing matters with a member of the official board of directors.
- Redesigning our communal areas such as the games room to make them more inviting and relevant to young people.
- Creating two paid positions within the team at CHADD for young people. We wanted to make a difference by putting into action the skills that our young people have learned and matching that with the living wage. This will allow our chosen young people to have a fully recognised job on their CV and be paid a wage that matches the work and effort that they have been putting in.
3. RISE ambassadors:
- A team of young people in the Dudley area dedicated to holding activities and events for people in Dudley – a key component in bringing our community together.
- The recent ‘CHADDfest’ festival held in the Foyer with food, activities, face painting and live music was a big success with people of all ages and backgrounds attending.
What have we learned?
Personally, my favourite part about everything I have been involved with has been meeting new people and feeling like I have a voice in my community. Before the youth power project, I would spend all day in my flat. I didn’t communicate with the people I lived with, and I wouldn’t get involved with the activities hosted by CHADD. Now, two years later, I have the confidence to speak up about issues that affect me. I speak to my peers and encourage them to be a part of the groups that I'm involved in. I've truly found myself and I'm now comfortable with others. I've enjoyed teaching people about the things we are interested in and making a difference. Overall, I'd say my favourite part of this journey has been discovering myself.
I think as a Foyer we've learned what young people truly want. They want change. While the Foyer previously would focus on aspects that they thought the residents wanted, they didn’t dig deeper to see if that was actually what was desired. Now we know that young people want to be involved with change, they want to stand up for what they believe in and be the difference they want to see in the world. Young people are very complicated, we all have different appearances, personalities, and needs. However our expectations are the same; we expect to be seen, heard, and understood. I think that is what we have learned as a Foyer.
As a Foyer, I believe that our journey will continue, and we'll follow through with making CHADD a better place. We are putting the steps in place to allow young people to have more freedom in their homes by allowing a pet's policy. We'll continue to have young people involved in the recruitment of staff and have their say on the activities that happen. Eventually, all of our projects will be run and organised by young people. We can only hope to grow our family, create better living environments, and continue to give young people a louder voice.
I'll continue to be involved at CHADD even though I have moved on. I hope to help the Foyer grow and connect more people. My end goal is to have been a part of a team that created a better town for my daughter's generation, and continue to be involved with the Foyer Federation.
What advice would you give others starting their youth power and leadership journey?
I believe that other Foyers and young people should get involved with projects just like this one to make a difference in their communities and their homes. It's beautiful to see something this pure blossom and flourish. It's an amazing experience. From gaining self-confidence to having an impact on what matters to us – there's something for everyone and everyone would benefit from the experience.
Advice that I'd give to anyone starting on this journey would be to persevere. Nothing is going to happen overnight, and some days it may seem like it's worth giving up because you’ve had no progress for months. However, persevere and eventually it'll bloom into something you'll be very proud of. Some parts may feel tedious but it is all worth it in the end – along the way you'll learn more skills and qualities than you can imagine