Cameron, 20, from Wales was a peer researcher in the first phase of PAC. Now as the Deputy Lead Co-ordinator for PAC Cymru, Cameron will be taking what he’s learned to help a new cohort of young people make positive changes in their communities.
Can you tell us more about your role in the Peer Action Collective (PAC) to date?
In my role as a peer researcher within PAC Cymru, I collaborated with a team of fellow researchers to plan and execute research projects around violence among children and young people. Additionally, I worked with other peer researchers to design the PAC conference, which took place in December 2022. My personal responsibilities within PAC were being the Co-director of our youth club called ‘The Hangout’ where I engaged with young people by hosting workshops and research on violence among children and young people. I also took on the responsibility being the key speaker for LGBTQ+ themes and lastly, I created content for PAC such as testimonials, documentaries, and other film related content.
Can you tell us about the work you have already done within PAC Cymru?
In the 18 months of doing research and social action with PAC Cymru, we achieved huge amount.
1. We worked with partners to help make more impact for young people:
- We co-created the Wales Without Violence Framework with the Welsh Violence Prevention Unit, a multi-agency team taking a public health approach to prevent violence in Wales. The PAC team provided leadership, facilitation, outreach, and expert advice throughout the development of the framework. The framework is so important to the young people of Wales because violence is a public health issue and impacts the lives of families, schools, and the wider community. The framework outlines the key elements needed to successfully develop primary prevention and early intervention strategies to end violence among children and young people.
- We worked with a research team at Cardiff University called CASCADE, where we developed a youth charter to present to professionals. The Youth Charter developed aims to create a comfortable and inclusive environment for children and young people when working with professionals. This is a valuable initiative that can help ensure that the perspectives and needs of young people are taken into account in decision-making processes.
2. We came up with creative ways to engage young people, meeting them where they are:
- We designed a pop-up shop in Cardiff town centre. Made in collaboration with the Violence Prevention Unit, it was a safe space for young people to come in and engaging with social action. We spoke to hundreds of young people, and they took part in surveys/interviews and writing letters to their local MP to use their voice on the changes they need and want. This social action project empowered young people and their voices promoting positive changes and social responsibility.
- We conducted interviews with young people at various events, including Pride Cymru, Pride Newport, and Pride Swansea, to gather their insights on violence among children and young people. We also worked with young people at other festivals around Wales and engaged with local youth clubs and schools to broaden our research within the different communities of Wales.
3. We listened to what young people had to say:
- The most prevalent themes in our research surrounded issues of knife crime, sexual harassment and violence, physical violence, hate crimes such as homophobia, transphobia, and racism, and bullying both online and in person – this was by far the most prominent answer. These themes were consistently mentioned across different groups and locations highlighting the urgent need for addressing these issues through education, awareness, and support.
- With our research findings, the team was eager to continue acting against hate crimes within the LGBTQ+ community. We worked with youth groups, conducing self-identity workshops and gathering testimonials about young people’s experiences and what needs to be implemented to stop other young people being affected by violence. Sharing these testimonials at the Wales Without Violence Framework launch helped us to amplify the voices of young LGBTQ+ people and promote understanding to the professionals who attended the framework launch.
What will your role be going forwards with PAC Cymru? How was your experience to date with PAC prepared you for this?
My role moving forward with PAC is as Deputy Lead Coordinator, which means I will help to lead the new team of peer researchers, social action leads and changemakers that will take part in the next stage of the programme. When the second phase of PAC was announced I knew I wanted to stay part of such a fantastic project working with young people however, I knew I had developed in my personal, research and organisational skills to take on more responsibility within PAC. After leading my own projects over the first phase of PAC, I knew I had the ability to help lead a full team of young people. With the training I have received and youth work course I’ve completed, I want to take what I have learnt to help and encourage other peer researchers to develop their own new skills. In my new role, I am excited to contribute to the project’s success while continuing to develop my personal and professional skills. My previous experience working with young people has given me a unique perspective and passion for this role, and I look forward to collaborating with the team to achieve our goals.
“After leading my own projects over the first phase of PAC, I knew I had the ability to help lead a full team of young people.“
What are your ambitions for PAC Cymru in the next 2.5 years?
Following on from what we’ve achieved with the Violence Prevention Unit and CASCADE, I want to involve new peer researchers in these collaborative relationships, as this will lead to fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to help young people who are affected by violence. We want to continue to shape and develop the Wales Without Violence Framework to carry on making a difference for young people in Wales. Doing more collaborative research with CASCADE can help us make sure that we continue to learn about young people’s priorities and needs.
Building on our previous LGBTQ+ research I would love to continue creating safe spaces for young LGBTQ+ young people. I want the team to attend every Pride event in Wales so the team can not only show support but also actively contribute to the community by engaging in social action. This can include activities such as providing resources, offering support, and advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. By working together, we can help create a more inclusive and accepting environment for all young people and help platform their voices.
We will continue to work with young people that have already engaged in PAC, and I will also build new connections and relationships with young people yet to take part. This will help us gather a sense of community and collaboration that will help drive positive change. We will continue hosting workshops, events, interviews, social action and mentorship to create opportunities for young people.
Lastly, being able to host big events like the launch of the Wales Without Violence Framework or the upcoming Senedd event in September 2023, where we will share more of our successes as PAC Cymru, is something I want to continue with PAC. Doing these big events means getting the attention of professionals and adults who can listen to young people. These events will help young people get control over their own lives and empower their voices.