How we do participation during a global pandemic

By Zoe, Young Women's Trust • 13 May 2020

Our work at Young Women’s Trust is needed now more than ever and we’ve been working hard to ensure that young women’s voices are heard throughout this difficult time. In this blog our Participation Assistant, Zoe Pike, talks about how we’re innovating to continue our participation work online during lockdown.

My name is Zoe and I’m the Participation Assistant at Young Women’s Trust. I support the Participation Team, which works to ensure that the lived experiences and opinions of young women are at the heart of our work. Everything we do – from the services we provide, to the campaigns we run – is informed by young women, leading, designing and influencing.

Now more than ever our work is crucial and we’re adapting the way we work to continue to involve young women in a variety of ways, so their voices are at the forefront of our response to coronavirus.

Introducing webinars for young women

We’re running a weekly webinar series to allow young women to stay in touch with each other, get advice from experts and help shape our campaigns. We’ve also been hosting video calls with MPs, allowing young women to speak directly to change makers about the issues they are facing.

Moving our residential online

In May, we normally run a residential weekend for young women on our Advisory Panel. This year, we’ll be moving it online to make sure that young women can continue to shape our work and have access training and development opportunities. Over 3 days, we’ll be bringing together 30 women from across the country for online workshops which include shaping future online activities, craftivism and making online videos.

Reactions so far 

Young women have reacted really positively to the changes we’ve made to our work. Esi-June said that our online sessions are a ‘great space to connect with other young women and not feel so alone or powerless against the current crisis’. Chanel told us that she ‘appreciates the time, energy and skills you have invested in creating this space and also for consistently asking for our input, ideas, opinions — I feel recognised and valued’.

Amidst the somewhat dark cloud of lockdown and the worries so many young women have about the future, a reassuring light has been the important lessons we’re learning to make our work even more accessible, engaging and inclusive for all young women. We’re thankful for these lessons which will continue to inform our approach to participation going forward.

If you’re a young woman aged 18 to 30, you can join our Facebook group The Lounge to connect with other women, share your experiences and take part in our webinars.