North East Lincolnshire partnership championing youth voice

6th June 2022 - Kayla Herbert

Written by Tess Parker, Story Tiller Communications

Young people are our future, their creativity and actions will shape the modern world. So why, all too often, do we fail to enable them to have their say? This case study focuses on North East Lincolnshire’s drive to put youth voice at the heart of their Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEP) strategy. By drawing on the support of IVE, they recruited a young creative leader to convene and empower a group of 12-21-year-olds. Read on to learn how local young people are having their say on arts and cultural development.

Enabling young people to take the arts development reins

North East Lincolnshire’s LCEP is passionate about the Arts Council England’s LCEP mission to “support children and young people to fulfil their creative potential and access high-quality cultural experiences where they live, where they go to school, and where they spend their free time.”

However, the LCEP faces several challenges locally, including high pupil premium numbers and low engagement of children and young people in arts development. This serves to fuel their resolve to better engage youth voice at the core of local arts and cultural planning and delivery.

In autumn 2021, the LCEP applied to IVE for seed funding to employ an early career, arts leader to facilitate a new Youth Voice Group. During their recruitment drive, Grimsby-based creative, Lisa February, shone as an excellent candidate. Her passion for nurturing young artists, coupled with a dedication to developing her own creative practice, made her an ideal choice. For Lisa, the opportunity landed perfectly: “The role came at a time where I was looking for more strategic opportunities within the sector. It offered a bridge between my work with young people, my work as an artist, and my aspirations to be part of shaping our creative sector. It was the perfect steppingstone with clear objectives, but enough independence to challenge myself, to think creatively and be flexible in my strategy and output.”

To support Lisa on her development journey, she was paired with IVE Associate for Hull, North East & North Lincolnshire, Beth Goddard. As a specialist coach in empowering young leaders of the future, Beth knew Lisa was special.

“Lisa is undoubtedly a leader of the future and I have told her (frequently) that I think that. She clearly knows the geographical area within which she works, has a sharp mind, a rich understanding of the creative sector and a deep passion to ensure that children and young people have access to creative and cultural activity. Through our coaching relationship I’ve watched Lisa gain confidence in her abilities, to think strategically, to build relationships and to understand her value within the wider system.”

The power of youth consultation to unlock trust and learning

Over recent months, Lisa has worked hard to grow an active and engaged North East Lincolnshire Youth Voice Group. Her person-centred style has allowed her to build rapport and collate an honest picture of young people’s views and concerns. This has flagged that local, young people can feel like ‘outsiders’ when it comes to arts and cultural development.
On a personal level, Lisa has honed numerous professional skills in the areas of consultation, decision-making and facilitation.

“This role has contributed to my growing confidence. It has given me a sense of independence and autonomy, which previously I may not have been comfortable stepping in to. I’ve noticed a big shift in my capacity to connect dots between organisations, schools, and local activity. The strategic part of my brain has been activated during the project.”

As a coach, Beth has been amazed at the resilience and self-determination Lisa has shown.

“I’ve seen her question herself, her age, her experiences, indeed the value she brings…and then I’ve watched her get right back up again! It has been a pleasure to work alongside Lisa and be a small part of her growth.”

Throughout this journey, Lisa has drawn on Beth’s coaching support to overcome doubts and embrace new challenges. She has faced down fears when engaging with larger groups of young people.

“A highlight has been attending Beacon Academy, to ‘have a chat’ with what I thought was a class of kids about creativity. When I got there, I walked straight onto a stage in front of Year 9, 10 and 11 performing arts students, gave a half hour talk on my own practice and our creative sector. It was an outstanding moment because I really had to adapt and navigate how best to interact and engage a large group of teenagers at a tricky age. At the end of the session, the teacher told me that it was the first time several students had sat through and listened to somebody from outside of school.”

Building on youth arts leadership and change-making in LCEPs

This North East Lincolnshire LCEP’s Youth Voice Group initiative has been an illuminating experience for all.

From both a young leader and youth consultation group perspective, the gains in trust and learning are clear to see. It shows us that when young people are at the helm of consultancy and planning, exciting change can happen.

Through the support of IVE’s funding, Lisa and the North East Lincolnshire LCEP adult and youth members have not only gathered new insights but they have grown in knowledge and purpose too.

In the coming months, it is hoped that the Youth Voice Group will transform into a permanent, Creative Youth Board – an integral partner and voice in building a youth-centred cultural strategy for North East Lincolnshire.

For Lisa, the learning has been phenomenal: “I’ve learned a great deal about myself, my strengths and limitations in this kind of role, about LCEPs, about our creative sector, and how it interacts with young people locally. This job has enabled me to consider a longer-term picture, and what steps should be taken to ensure young people feel a connection to our creative sector.”

From Beth’s perspective, this project has been eye-opening. Her broad experience of working with several LCEPs at a strategic, partnership level has underlined the value of have young people around the decision-making table.

“The real magic of LCEP activity comes when young people are at the heart of the conversations, bringing in their experiences, which often are so very different to the adults around the table. They are the ‘end user’ effectively, so we need to listen to them and respond to their insight.”

Discover how IVE has been empowering youth voice in other parts of the region, including Wakefield’s youth-led literature festival and the impact of Kirklees’ celebrated Young Producers Programme.

Find out more about your local cultural education partnership here

Download the full case study as a PDF here

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