Hi, I’m Joely. I’m Khulisa’s new (and first ever!) Youth Engagement Advisor. I’ll be working alongside Khulisa a few days a month to promote their work with young people and to ensure young people are continually informing the charity’s vision and focus.
I first heard about Khulisa as a student at Wac Arts College when I was reluctantly summoned by my headteacher to join a taster day because my timetable was free. After first thinking ‘why am I here?’ I realised my peers were enjoying it, getting to debate things that are important to them and being part of a group. I liked that the facilitators built a rapport with students and really listened to them and saw people’s resistance to life break down.
I’ve been involved with Khulisa ever since, encouraging other young people at Wac Arts to engage, contributing to Khulisa’s #lookbeyondthelabel campaign (see here for more), supporting the 2017 Big Give Christmas Challenge, filming with M&C Saatchi and generally advocating for the programme. I recently attended the whole ‘Face It’ programme to get an even better understanding of how Khulisa works with young people.
Because I’m so vocal about my own journey, my own challenges, my own disappointment with mainstream school and my own experiences of being an angry young person, I became a go-to for other students at Wac Arts who needed support. I took on the role of mother, counsellor, sister, lecturer, comforter, adviser and mentor. This puts me in good stead to be a Youth Engagement Advisor for Khulisa. I hope to to use my relationship with young people as well as my ability to encourage people in challenging situations to get involved, ask for help and find their voice. I want to create a youth advisory panel for young people to express themselves on issues that are important to them like knife crime, the police, music, education and gangs. I want to bridge the gap between young people and Khulisa so that Khulisa are informed by what young people want, say and need.
I think it’s important for charities like to Khulisa to employ people like me so that young people’s voices don’t fall on deaf ears and I can be a positive role model for other young people who are having a hard time in education.
Learn more about Joely’s personal story through a video she’s made, here.