THE BIG SOCIETY FORUM: ‘Children, Churches and the Big Society: Calling Church and Nation’ November, 2011

Vision for the inclusion and participation of children in the Forum (and its continuum of activities?)
Rationale:

‘In many ways children will be leaders in the creation of the Big Society: agents in the process, rather than passive recipients of services or structured information’ (Keith White in original BSF vision paper)

The above comment encapsulates one primary reason for British children and young people taking part in this Forum which seeks to address their interests and future welfare. In this respect, the Forum is an opportunity not only to speak forth but to demonstrate child-friendliness. Put succinctly, the smallness and simplicity of children hold value and are latent resources to be utilized now.

The objective here is not political correctness (in keeping with the contemporary trendy ‘participation’ movement) but the integrity of the Forum’s expressed goals. Including children and young people (14-25 years) can also help to ensure an inter-generational network and sustainability of the Forum’s ultimate goals. Moreover, this bid for inclusion need not result in time consuming or expensive initiatives. It would need to acknowledge both the capabilities and limitations of children and young people.

GENERAL

– Drafting an annotated address merge and listing of children’s / youth groups/ schools or other resources which could be helpful to the Forum and to subsequent activities

IDEAS FOR CHILDREN’s PARTICIPATION (under 14 years)

– Video- sharing thoughts about their neighbourhood and what community love –in- action could actually look like. Do they see themselves as being ‘helpers’ in this process? Video can be shared on the day of the Forum and strategically distributed to stakeholders (securing permission of parents would be critical)
– Encouraging children’s visualization of the above in a poster etc. which could be helpful in the future publicity of the Forum’s goals
– Supporting a post-Forum children’s project which promotes any relevant goals of the Big Society
– Hosting an engagement/ reporting chat session after the Forum and gathering children’s inputs on the way forward

YOUNG PEOPLE’s PARTICIPATION

– Using the theme: ‘Children, Churches and the Big Society: Calling Church and Nation’ as the focus for all exhibits at the Forum (as opposed to groups erecting general information booths about their charity or association
– Designing a structured electronic questionnaire for youth groups and associations CYC and UCCF) for individual responses to the Big Society concept and, how it might be realized. A synopsis of findings could be highlighted at the Forum.
– Creating a video vignette of youth responses to the Big Society concept (Social Work, Sociology and Policy Students). Would any journalism students be interested in crafting this project or working alongside another group?
– Actively advertising the Forum among Christian students, youth groups and pursuing early attendance confirmation- reserving a space for??? youth delegates at the Forum (out of the expected 300)
– Special invitation of a cadre of Christian social work/ sociology students to the Forum. Could they right a Paper about implications on the way forward?
– Inviting Young people to work with adults as stewards in the preparation and delivery of the Forum
– Organizing a Post Forum invitation for a Face Book chat session and report. How might any relevant ideas be animated by the young people in question?
– Building awareness of core documents related to the Big Society on the Forum’s webpage or associated WebPages.

POTENTIAL GAINS FROM INCLUSION. . .

– The vision and methodology of the Forum are more closely aligned and potentially productive
– Training in leadership and supporting development of ministry gifts of the young people involved
– Utilizing the available resources of youth groups and youth networks already linked to the Coalition
– Results gleaned from any social enquiry could help to further the growth of the Coalition
– Expansion of awareness about the Forum and its goals

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