Young people have a blast at myplace festivals

Whilst the festival season for many may have ended in August, myplace has carried on well into the winter. The much anticipated myplace festivals have now taken place and here is the lowdown on what went on.

For those who have been hiding under a rock for the past couple of months here is a little reminder of what the festivals were about...

The myplace Young Consultants came up with the idea of a festival to celebrate all the hard work that has happened this year by all the myplace projects around the country. They were also designed as a great way for young people from the different projects to meet each other, share experiences and make friends. It was also decided that in order to accommodate the maximum number of projects and young people as possible, there would be two festivals, a northern one and a southern one.

So, away the Young Consultants went, with a spring in their step and a head full of ideas, and set about organising the festivals.

"We had loads of ideas about what we wanted at the festivals", explains one of the Young Consultant organisers Mikey Sinclair. "We had a series of meetings and worked out when and where they should happen. We then all had our own roles focusing on a particular area such as the budget, catering, the venue etc. We did all the organising in about a month for both festivals. There was so much to do and we were working almost flat out towards the end."

The southern leg of the festival took place at the Avon Tyrrell Youth Centre on 7th November, with the northern leg taking place a week later at YMCA Lakeside at Lake Windermere. Both of the festivals were well represented by projects from all around the country and it was great to see them all mixing and getting to know each other.

So what went on over the weekends? Well, what didn't go on more like!? There were a variety of workshops for the young people to attend, all on topics that are vital to a good myplace centre. There were workshops on public speaking, governance, marketing, citizenship, and even a music workshop with myplace ambassador Bongo Eddie from Kid Creole. As usual with our workshops they were very well received by all who took part.

They were run by experienced professionals who really know what they are talking about. All of the skills and techniques learnt in the workshops will help the young people, not just in the running of their myplace project, but in other areas of their life too.

The governance workshop in particular, run by law firm Burness, was highly praised. Burness has now run a series of governance seminars for myplace projects and they are always very well received. Graeme Palmer from Burness explained that this one was no exception. He said: "We had some really enthusiastic people at the workshop. They were good fun and I think people really enjoyed themselves. It might not be the most exciting thing but it went down well and I think they all want away having learnt a lot."

But wait right there, the festivals weren't just about workshops and seminars, there was also a host of activities on offer to entertain, excite and challenge the young people. For the more adventurous festival-goers there were high and low ropes courses, both indoor and outdoor climbing walls and construction challenges. There was plenty on offer and not even the weather could dampen the spirits of those attending.

Whilst the sun beat down on those in the south, the weather was less kind up on Lake Windermere. Mother Nature did little to quash the stereotypical northern weather, but even though the wind and the rain were on top form, everyone still had a great time games of basketball went ahead as normal (although they were a little soggy!)

There was also plenty of evening entertainment so that everyone could unwind after a busy day. It also gave young people from the projects a chance to showcase themselves and perform for everyone else. Included in some of the performances were bands featuring some of the young people from the projects.

It is the involvement of the young people that Mikey believes is what made the festivals so good. "The fact that it was all organised by young people for young people I think has been the impressive thing. Overall I would have to say that it was a big success and hopefully we can do something like this again in the future."

The importance of youth engagement is a sentiment shared by myplace support team director Jeremy Wyatt, who attended both legs of the festival. He said: "The young consultants have done a brilliant job in organising the festivals and I think that cements the idea that young people can do things and they are at the heart of myplace. The whole thing was being organised and run by young people and that is quite a significant statement. It was about getting young people from the project networking and meeting one another. We have also had a significant number of volunteers from projects all around the country such as Hastings, Knowlsey and the Isle of White, who have been great and been a tremendous help."

These were the first festivals that the myplace Support Team have put on, and it would seem safe to say it was a roaring success. The feeling throughout both the festivals was that it had been really well organised and that everyone had enjoyed themselves thoroughly. The Young Consultants really did a fantastic job in organising and running the festivals, and if the feedback is anything to go by, it would not be surprising to see the myplace festivals make a return next year, only bigger and better.

So were you at the festivals? What did you think? Let us know what you got up to or any stories you have by leaving comments below.