I joined the 70/30 campaign as it was getting started towards the end of 2015 and over the time I’ve been involved and met our incredible ambassadors, I’ve become more conscious of being slightly different from most of our volunteers.
I don’t have kids. I’m in my early (getting on to mid) 20s. I don’t have experiences of the maltreatment that we’re all working so hard to prevent.
So why am I an ambassador and why do I want to see more young people involved with our campaign?
When I joined 70/30 I was finishing up an internship in an art gallery, which had left me not knowing what I wanted to do, but knowing I didn’t really want to do art.
Before this, at university, I’d done a lot of work around student mental health and I knew it was something I was passionate about.
Not wanting to be left with nothing to do, I trawled the internet one afternoon for some volunteering opportunities. Having read through the work of WAVE Trust and their arguments for prevention, I was sold on the 70/30 campaign pretty quickly.
I remember telling my parents once I’d signed up as a volunteer, ‘it just makes sense.’
At around the same time, I got involved with a fantastic charity working in youth justice. I was meeting and working alongside young people who had turned their lives around. They were truly inspirational.
The one thing they pretty much all had in common, was a tough time growing up.
As I volunteered in youth justice and with 70/30 side by side, I realised that both groups were talking about the same things. They were tackling the same problems: mental ill health, substance abuse, emotional wellbeing, difficult relationships. They were working to get the right support for people who needed it before things went more wrong then they should ever reasonably go.
Most of all, both were working with people who, in slightly different circumstances, could have been me.
The 70/30 campaign brings together people who are full of expertise, knowledge and experience. It also brings together those who simply have compassion and who recognise that the issues we’re dealing with aren’t other people’s problems. They’re all of our problems.
I could write an essay on the wider benefits of prevention, of what a world in which we eliminate child maltreatment might look like to someone who has never even come close to it. Maybe I will another time.
All I’ll say now, is that we need more people to shout about these issues. We need people who have never given a second thought to what these things to start thinking about the positive change we could make. We need more and more people to get involved!