SpunOut.ie is a national charitable organisation providing information for young people across Ireland and beyond. Its popularity has grown significantly over the last number of years, often being a case of trying to meet the growing demand for an ever-inquisitive younger generation. One gap that lay within SpunOut.ie was that while they have a plethora of voices from across Ireland, there was a lack of young Traveller perspectives. However, SpunOut.ie and Involve are in the early stages of changing this for the better.
We caught up with Timmy Hammersley of SpunOut.ie to find out a little bit more about this exciting new initiative and learn a little bit more about the organisation.
Timmy told us, “SpunOut.ie is Ireland’s youth information website and we are led by our Action Panels. Our core philosophy is ‘by young people, for young people,’ and it is the Action Panel which helps make sure that when we say we are youth-led, we can really mean it. Nearly 140 young people from all over Ireland make up the SpunOut.ie Youth Action Panel; and they are split up into five regional panels along with one national panel. The action panel’s role is to provide strategic leadership to SpunOut.ie and to generate new ideas about how to respond to the ever-changing information needs of 16-25 year olds. Much of the content on our website comes from the ideas and experiences of our Action Panel members and we feel that the regional spread gives us a good idea of the broad issues which impact young people. However we also need to be more inclusive and work harder to facilitate the voices of young people who are rarely heard in society. Young Travellers fit this bill and our aim is to set up a specific Action Panel for Young Travellers which will guide us in terms of the online information needs of young Travellers from right around the country. This initiative we believe will not only assist us in generating better content that is specific to young Travellers, but will also work towards challenging some of the stigmas which are present in society.”
So, how do more young Travellers get involved?
“The main message I would like to communicate with Young Travellers is we are genuine about this.
We want to create a platform where young Travellers can genuinely have a voice which impacts, and in the process help challenge stereotypes. We do not expect you to come to us, but we are more than willing to get out of our own comfort zone, and if we are welcome, come to the places which you are familiar with and feel at home. In this sense, we are delighted to have Involve guiding us throughout the process. We do not have all the answers, and as a contrast want to learn, but we can only do this with your help. The commitment we ask for is not huge, all Action Panels only meet three times over each year and they are evenly spread out. However, the meetings are crucial to the work which goes on in between, as by attending you decide the content which goes out through our channels. We value the contribution Action Panel members make towards our work, and in return we aim to make the experience as beneficial for them as we can. We make Training opportunities available to all Action Panel members and this is done through our Action Panel Training Programme which is structured over a two year period. Currently the Training involves Personal and Professional Development, Advocacy and Activism, Public Speaking, Journalism and Group Facilitation.”
Involve are delighted to be working so closely with SpunOut on this exciting new project. The reality is that all of our young people have a voice, and if they can harness it now, there is no doubt it will stand to them later in life.