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Q&A with Grace Ward 

As you know, recently two Peer Researchers from the Peer Action Collective in Merseyside stole the show when they spoke at a Labour Party Conference Fringe event hosted by The Rt Hon Justine Greening

Grace Goodman and Grace Ward from PAC Merseyside joined the event – sponsored by the Co-op and The Purpose Coalition – to talk about their PAC work and share what they’ve learnt from their research. They were joined on the panel by Alex Norris MP and the Co-op’s Public Affairs Director, Paul Gerrard

In this Q&A, we get to know Grace Ward, her experience of the day and the plans she has for the future in the Peer Action Collective.  

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is Grace Ward (she/her), I’m 19 and a PAC Peer Researcher working with YPAS. I’m passionate about social change and young people’s rights – any way I can try to make a difference I will pursue it. Alongside PAC, I’m currently studying Literature in the University of Manchester.  

2. What inspired you to join the Peer Action Collective? 

I had been volunteering as a Young Ambassador at YPAS for a few years before the opportunity to join PAC arose, so it felt like a natural and exciting progression to be able to dedicate more time to the service and to young people in the area. To be able to do research on a social issue and make tangible change from that, meeting and working with other young people along the way, felt completely unique to anything I’d seen before. 

3. When you were first invited to the Labour Party Conference, how did you feel? 

The Labour Party Conference seemed like the perfect platform to voice what we have found in our research to key stakeholders, and to get people seriously thinking about what they can do. We knew we had to take the opportunity and do the young people we spoke to justice. 

4. How did you prepare for the conference?  

We had just made a start on our research co-analysis in the run up to the conference, so our first port of call was to turn to that. We wanted to ensure that we captured key quotes and experiences from young people we spoke to, and to recognize that every experience is individual and unique.  

5. Can you talk with us through the day of the fringe meeting?  

The day of the fringe meeting was really relaxed and we were well supported by the Co-op. At the start of the fringe, the room filled up so quickly, to the point where there weren’t enough seats for everyone – this wasn’t expected at all. The discussions we held as a panel were thought-provoking and allowed us to expand on the points we made in our presentations around a lack of hope that young people we’ve spoken to often feel. 

6. How do you feel having attended the fringe meeting?  

Having attended the fringe, I feel a sense of ease that we were able to present our findings and the voices of so many young people in Merseyside to such an attentive and considerate audience. I know that this is just the start of us sharing what we’ve learned over the last year, and it was a brilliant way to kick this next stage of the project off.  

7. What’s next? 

Next, we will be producing a report to share so the legacy of PAC lives on, and we can reflect on the nature of youth violence, but also young people’s lives in Merseyside more generally, in 2022. We are also currently in our social action stage, so we will be working with young people across the area to take the problems that were discussed with us, and trying to make a tangible difference to them. As a team, we are just here now to help upskill other young people we may work with, but the power is completely in their hands to take this social action in whatever direction they would like. 

Watch the video below to hear Grace and Grace talk about their unique experience representing PAC at the Labour Party Conference! 

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