Every member of the Young Giant team is under thirty, but we do not presume to know what young people think and want. It was vital that the Young Combined Authority centred young people’s voices from the very beginning of the process, including recruitment. In order to inform the recruitment process we consulted with young people from the West Midlands, we wanted to know what would attract them to this opportunity and perhaps more importantly why would they not want to be part of the YCA. It soon became clear that the barriers to applying were different across the region, having this insight early on was invaluable and we were able to use this to inform our recruitment process.
Setting the right tone to directly appeal to young people was an important part of overcoming some of the challenges. We knew that we needed a young person to assist us with marketing and ideally someone from outside of Birmingham. We hired Chloe Deakin, who works directly within the communities we were trying to reach and understood the vision of the YCA. Hiring a young person to work on the project from the beginning further cemented that this is a board being built for young people by young people.
In order to reach people in cities we had not previously worked in, a fundamental part of our recruitment strategy was contacting organisations who were working with young people in Wolverhampton, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall. Several organisations shared the opportunity with their networks reaching much further than our community of young people. Despite this, half way through the recruitment we had not received any applications from anyone in Coventry, asking for our new contacts to share the opportunity again produced some applications but not enough. We decided to offer workshops to assist people with their applications. Often governance and board opportunities are intimidating to young people without any prior experience, so we hosted workshops and this proved to be a fundamental part of recruiting. By going directly to young people, in their spaces, we provided an opportunity to talk about their fears and worries in applying, removing those barriers, made them feel confident that this was an opportunity for them and their voice.