A Chat With: Merseyside Peer Action Collective (PAC)

This week, we have a chat with the Merseyside Peer Action Collective (PAC), a team of young people from across the region who are conducting peer research and social action with people aged 10-20, with the aim of reducing youth violence. 

PAC is part of a national initiative of young people hired to research the culture of youth violence from the specific and unique perspective of young people themselves. As they are currently seeking participants to get involved in their latest research, we find out more about what it entails and why they are part of the collective.

Hi there, your project is amazing and so vital for current times. Can you tell us a bit more about the team and PAC?

Our team is made up of 13 peer researchers aged 16-21 and we are from all across Merseyside, which means we each have a shared understanding of Merseyside as a whole, while maintaining unique insight into our individual communities and how they may have similarities or differences to other areas. 

We are currently in the process of conducting our research, and this is being done predominantly through one-to-one interviews as well as focus groups in settings like schools and youth groups to help us reach as many young people as possible and to be accessible to different groups of young people. 

Essentially, we are very eager to hear from all young people in Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region about their experiences, particularly from people whose voices are not always heard or perspectives reflected in research projects like this.

Research is key to our project, as we want to gain a full and comprehensive understanding of youth violence and what is actually happening in our region, however it is just part of a process which we hope will continue going forward.

So, can anyone get involved in the research?

Anyone aged 10 – 20 can take part, but many of us at PAC being members of the LGBTQ+ community ourselves, we would especially love to hear the voices and experiences of other LGBTQ+ young people, because we believe, together, we can make a real difference. The deadline to be interviewed is 1st September 2022, but we want to hear from as many people as soon as possible!

What can people expect if they decide to be interviewed for your research?

The research will take place in an 1-1 interview at a time and place to suit you and will take roughly 45 mins to an hour – you also get a £10 Amazon voucher, so win win! We have also created a video to help make the process less daunting which you can find at youtu.be/15wIrSqx9fc.

You can access our sign up link at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FYQVDLQ but under-16a will require parental consent.”

Why is it that you are undertaking this work?

Collectively we feel that youth violence is a subject that is predominantly discussed through statistics, in a way which presents it as detached entirely from any other issues. We agreed that in order to fully understand the issue of youth violence, we needed to also explore the potential root causes which we could only do by speaking to young people directly about their lived experiences. 

Existing research that has been conducted relating to youth violence often fails to present the human and emotional elements of the topic and can come across as prioritising statistics at the risk of not valuing individual participants or their experiences.

As a team we were struck by the lack of research completed relating to Merseyside, and we wanted to explore how youth violence impacts our local communities by amplifying the voice of young people living in those communities.

We also feel it is crucial to understand the wider social context of the topic of youth violence, and so we have been equally keen to explore issues such as mental health and poverty, as well as LGBTQ+ and minority identities to form a realistic picture of youth violence and what fuels it.

What do you want the research to achieve?

We don’t want our project to become something which just captures statistics and perhaps starts a conversation about youth violence whilst changing very little. We want to be solution-focused and we are ambitious about our collective power as young people working with changemakers to create positive change in our city region and beyond. 

Are there any other ways to get involved with PAC? 

As well as research participants, we are also actively looking for young people to work with us as changemakers. These are the people who will partake in social action as part of this project which will hopefully be ongoing even after the PAC project itself has ended. In other words, this will be the implementation stage in which young people work to make the change that they feel is needed following the results of our research.

Young people can sign up to be Changemakers between now and the end of the project in December, but the sooner the better as we want to undertake lots of really meaningful social action.

 If you’d like to be part of making Merseyside a fairer and safer place for young people and get involved with Merseyside PAC, you can find out more and sign up here: linktr.ee/ypasmerseysidepac

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