Wednesday, 19 January 2011

How best to communicate with young people?

This evening there was a consultation event for young people and Cornwall Councillors held at Jericho's in Launceston. The participants came from our town, Callington and Bude areas and ranged in age from 14-18.

The evening split into three parts. There were some presentations from young people on the sort of projects they are involved in, a 'speed dating' session for young people to chat with the councillors about different issues and a discussion about the best and worst aspects of each town.

During the speed dating session I was discussing how best to communicate with young people. We chatted about the ways in which young people themselves like to communicate - with Facebook coming out by far the most popular - and how they would get in touch with decision makers such as councillors if they wanted to have their say. Again, a lot of the participants want to be able to communicate with elected politicians via Facebook, but there was also mention of email, phone, text and going along to surgeries.

I mentioned that Cornwall Council broadcasts bigger meetings via webcast and most people there thought that this was a good thing and they would watch a debate if it was on a subject that they were interested in. But they also wanted to be able to have their say on the subject as you can with, for instance, a Youtube video. I think that there is still a way for Cornwall Council to go in making the webcast truly interactive, but we are on the right track.

I also mentioned this blog and twitter. Not that many people at the event use Twitter but those that do thought that being able to get in touch with a councillor via the medium was a good thing. As for blogs, the view tended to be that they would read a local blog or a specific post on a subject that interested them but that it would have to be relevant to their lives to be interesting.

And finally, what about traditional political leaflets? Most young people said they did not see these and would not be particularly interested even if they did.

The event was wrapped up by Launceston's own MC Tricky who succeeded in rapping about the discussions in his own unique way.

Also tonight, there was a promotional event for the Eden Project's Barefoot Games, a volunteer scheme for young people aged 16-25 which took place at the Eagle House Hotel. There will be another event in a couple of weeks or so and I'll post more details about this then.

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