Last week the UK became the 24th country to join the global U-Report community! Launching via Facebook and Twitter, U-Report will allow young people in the UK to speak out on issues affecting them. We spoke to Emma Ferguson, U-Report Project Manager at UNICEF UK, to explain what U-Report is all about and what it means to young people in the UK.
What inspired you to launch U-Report in the UK?
U-Report has been embraced by young people around the world and it was clear to us that this could be an extremely important and useful tool within the UK context. Having live and real-time information about what young people think and feel is extremely important to our work. It will enable us to better advocate on the behalf of young people and make sure that their voices are at the centre of everything we do within the UK.
What are the main things that U-Report in the UK hopes to achieve?
We hope that young people in the UK will use U-Report to make sure their voices are heard, responding to the questions we set and also tell us the issues they want U-Report UK to raise. Our first question, for example, asks if young people in the UK feel listened to. We want to explore how young people feel they can be part of decisions that have an impact on them and consider if U-Report will be a useful channel to achieve this.
This is a trial period for U-Report in the UK so we will be testing how it works best and what issues young people want to speak out on, whether that is protecting unaccompanied refugee children in the UK or the impact of climate change on children. We have launched via Facebook and Twitter, but will plan to incorporate SMS and the U-Report app shortly.
We will also be working with partner organisations and local authorities who will help us give young people a chance to have their say on local policies and services that affect them. We will also give young campaigners the chance to set their own questions on issues and use the information to support and bolster their own campaigning.
Overall we hope U-Report UK will give young people a louder voice in the UK.
What lessons have you taken from other countries already using U-Report?
In the build up to launching U-Report in the UK, we have been talking to colleagues around the world about what they have learnt from their experiences, everything from the technology involved, to how to get young people to sign-up. What was clear from all these conversations is that young people have to be at the heart of everything we do – there is no point us asking questions about an issue they’re not interested in! By working with groups of young people to help us develop content and questions for U-Report UK, we hope to ensure it is a platform young people feel they own and have some control over.
At UNICEF UK we also want to ensure that we or our partners can respond to the answers and opinions that young people provide. Many of our questions will be linked to our campaigns and advocacy plans, or that of partners, so that there is the potential for change to be achieved.
And finally, how can people sign-up to U-Report UK?
It’s really easy! If you are aged between 13 and 25 and live in the UK then you can become a U-Reporter today. You can sign up by messaging JOIN to U-Report UK on Facebook, or by following us on Twitter @UReportUK.
To find out more about U-Report in the UK, please visit http://uk.ureport.in/