Youth Voice Matters Children and Young People’s SEND Conference

On Wednesday 23rd February, we held the Youth Voice Matters Children and Young People’s Conference. The conference is designed and delivered by young people for young people. The annual conference is an incredible opportunity for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to build on their participation skills, develop their voice and feel empowered to participate in decision making at a local, national and strategic level.

The Government Minister for Children and Families, Will Quince, gave a keynote address to all delegates before attending a roundtable with the Department for Education's national young SEND advisory group (FLARE). Will spoke about what amazing work young people have done over the course of the pandemic and about the importance of supporting mental health:

“It’s so important that we have young people like you, who are so passionate about participation to ensure that you have an equal say in the policies that affect you and your families”.

Minister for Children and Families, Will Quince

After this the Chatterboxes' Natalie spoke about the importance of Youth Voice and what it means to them:

“I hate not having my voice heard, I am an intelligent and articulate young woman and I have a lot to say about almost any subject”.

Natalie, The Chatterboxes

The workshop’s held at this year’s conference covered a wide variety of topics. Some young people signed up to hear from finance experts at MyBnk to get an introduction to manage their own finances, whilst others heard from NCB’s Hope, to learn about how to prepare to speak to decision makers about the issues they are passionate about. The Chatterboxes delivered an amazing workshop about how to get the right support in school for you, and the SEND Review team from the Department for Education gave Young People the opportunity to have their say on the SEND Review. CDC’s Ciara and FLARE member Grace gave their top tips on how to advocate for yourself! FLARE member Carys and NCB young trustee Bethan developed an informative and fun workshop on Youth voices in action, where they discussed how to make your own podcast.

We received fantastic feedback directly from Young People, including:

“I’ve really enjoyed the interactive quality”

“It means a lot to say how I feel”

“Helps to open up our experiences to non-disabled people too”

“Hopefully this can help us change the way disabled people are perceived”