We spoke to Samaira and Lauren after they had attended a residential weekend for members of our Advisory Panel. In this blog they share their experiences of being on the panel and the importance of young women leading, designing, and participating in our work.
What motivated you to join the Advisory Panel?
Samaira: I saw a post on social media in the autumn of 2019, asking for new Advisory Panel members. As I read more about what the role entailed, my curiosity grew and I decided to apply. I had nothing to lose and was not in the best place where my mental health was concerned at the time, so the idea of contributing towards a positive cause seemed exciting.
Lauren: A kind, friendly and safe community of women, what more could you ask for? This is what drew me into joining the Advisory Panel, I want to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and at Young Women’s Trust everyone feels welcoming and is super supportive.
What was the best part of the residential weekend?
Samaira: The best part of the last residential weekend had to be the end. Although I hate goodbyes and was extremely sad that my time on the panel was over, I was touched by the kind words that had been spoken about me and some of the other leavers. I truly felt like a valued member of the community.
Lauren: Over the residential weekend I took part in the media training sessions, and I cannot express enough how accommodating and educational the session was. We learnt lots of skills to help us gain confidence and approach interviews. The session has inspired me to sign up as a media volunteer. I am desperate to use my voice and to share my lived experiences but have never really known how to before.
Why do you think that the Advisory Panel is important?
Samaira: The Advisory Panel is important because it gives young women the opportunity to get their voices heard and be an active participant in shaping change. Being on the panel enables women to challenge stereotypes, raise awareness and put pressure on the people who are in control to make things fairer for women.
It is also a brilliant opportunity to meet other young women, gain some confidence and take part in some unforgettable experiences.
Lauren: This was my second residential and both times I have felt heard, validated and supported. At both residentials, we have been asked our opinions on how to better the latest campaigns, newsletters, and other projects. It is important to have our say and shape the work Young Women’s Trust undertakes.
The Advisory Panel is a safe space and offers a community that can be hard to find. To hear others are going through similar things to you, to listen to people share their personal issues and stories is so important to help me learn and understand people more. It really is a place to stand in solidarity, fight for people’s rights and not feel alone.
There are lots of opportunities for young women to connect and influence our work. Including through our Facebook Lounge, monthly skills building webinars and campaigning opportunities.