Young people deliver powerful message to youth services at House of Lords reception

As the Peer Power charity marked its sixth year of supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people at a reception in the House of Lords in June, it shared an important message for the services of the youth sector facing trauma.

Driven by her personal experience, Anne-Marie Douglas established Peer Power in 2016. The organization supports children and young people who have experienced significant trauma and adversity by using an empathy-focused approach to build trust , fostering supportive and consistent relationships and empowering children to express themselves. By helping each other become leaders at Peer Power, young people are influencing policy and guiding the transformation of local services.

At the event, Peer Power presented The Empathy Report which explores the application of empathy in children’s services and why it is important that youth services dealing with trauma are delivered by people with lived experience. .

Rico Thai-Richards, 18, from Waltham Forest, has been supported by Peer Power since April 2021. Now an expert in Peer Power, Rico spoke about his experience:

“Before I came to Peer Power, I had no faith in myself or anyone else. Where I come from is every man for himself. People told me I couldn’t do anything. Peer Power believed in me I didn’t trust the police or health or the NHS, now I see they are all people doing their best and working with us to create change.

“I met people from all walks of life and felt the ambition and success. Peer Power helped me develop my public speaking skills and gain confidence. I landed the roles of Youth Mayor and Vice President of the London Youth Assembly and involved in local and national politics I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing organizations such as Project Zero, The London Recovery Board and YIAG (Youth Independent Advisory Group) I hope I can now help other young people to make a difference.

“My plan for the future is to help people of all ethnic backgrounds, whatever religion you believe in, whatever disability you have, people are people.”

Another youth supported by Peer Power said:

“They say in unfortunate circumstances you meet the best people and I wholeheartedly say that’s true. Anne-Marie saw in me something that I hadn’t seen in myself. Peer Power has been there for me through good times and bad. It helped me be my best self.

Host of the event for 60 guests was Baroness Usha Prashar who addressed the eight young Peer Power Experts celebrating the charity’s achievements since it was launched in the House of Lords six years ago.

The charity’s chair, Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly, explained how Peer Power has grown from strength to strength, connecting with over 500 young people, 92 per cent of whom enter education, training or work. employment within six months. It has delivered workshops, training and coaching to over 5000 professionals, partnering with organizations such as NHSEI London, the Department of Justice, the Youth Justice Council, HM Inspectorate of Probation and a range charitable organizations for young people. Since 2016, Peer Power has grown from a team of 2 to a team of 20, and its patrons include Lord McNally, author Simonetta Hornby and Baroness Usha Prashar.

Anne-Marie Douglas, Founder and CEO of Peer Power, said:

“Today more than ever, young people need to be heard. Peer Power is here to harness the potential of young people who have experienced trauma, neglect, abuse and crime by providing support, building trusting relationships and helping services improve. By instilling empathy, listening, and taking concrete action, we can address the ongoing institutional abuse of the children in our care. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but it doesn’t stop. We need to learn to be more empathetic as a society and empower people to have a voice.

“It was an evening of gratitude to everyone who has contributed to Peer Power’s success to date. I have been moved by the stories of young people about the impact of Peer Power on their lives and would also like to thank them for all they do to create system change for their peers as young leaders and positive role models .

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