By Eileen Gbagbo, member of the Geffrye Museum Youth Advisory Panel

photo 8On Monday 6th October 2014, I and 5 other members of the Geffrye  Museum’s youth programme and Youth Advisory Panel, also known as the ‘YAP’, co-led the Kids in Museums  ’Starting a Youth Panel’ workshop in order to give our opinions on the Youth Panels, like what makes them successful and how they are run, etc. I volunteered to speak at the workshop, because I have really enjoyed being part of the YAP and I do believe that organisations such as museums, that aren’t exactly associated with or appealing to young people, should have something along the lines of a youth panel in order to break the stereotype. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this workshop.

Before this event, the YAP had created the ’10 Top Tips for Starting a Youth Panel’ booklet. This is meant to be a tool designed to help anyone who is thinking about starting up a youth panel realise the important elements from the young people’s perspective.  The tips ranged from making sure that there was enough food at every meeting to making sure everyone put ideas forward, but in my opinion, the most important ‘Top Tip’ to me was about having unique opportunities within the museum or youth panel so that members could feel rewarded for their contribution. Our booklet was very eye-catching and informative at the same time; you can read it here.

photo 11The workshop started at 1pm, but we met at 12 o’clock just to run over some last-minute things. When the guests had arrived, we and the Kids in Museums staff introduced ourselves and all of the delegates took it in turn to say their name and where they’re from. Next, with the help of Vanessa (Young People’s Programme Coordinator at the Geffrye), we then spoke about each of the ‘Ten Top Tips’ in some detail and explained why we felt they were important in running and setting up a youth panel. After this daunting task, which seemed to take forever, we then sat at a table each in order to talk to those on the table and answer any of their queries.  Then it was the Kids in Museums’ infamous ‘Five Minute Blasts’. This involved 5 speakers, who have had experience with different youth groups, speaking for 5 minutes.  All the participants were then encouraged to write any questions they had on post-it notes, which were then sorted into different categories during the break.  After the coffee break, the delegates then sat on the table with the category which they were most interested in. YAP members sat on each of the tables and answered as many questions as possible. This was really interesting as we really engaged with the guests as they were really interested in running youth panels.  Afterwards, the participants wrote themselves a promise on a postcard which the Kids in Museums staff will post to them soon as a reminder.  Then we all filled in evaluation cards and the event ended around 4.30.

At the event, I learnt a lot of interesting things about youth panels, especially about the financial aspects. Its very hard for museums to get money to fund youth panels, so we talked about possible fundraising opportunities and ways to save money. Overall, speaking at the event helped my confidence and gave me the chance to speak about something quite important to me. Being part of the Geffrye YAP has given me many opportunities and has helped me grow in confidence and skills such as time management and planning and supporting large-scale events. Earlier this year, I also had the opportunity to complete a Silver Arts Award, and through that I have gained a lot of creative skills and arts knowledge.