Before writing in the Grimsby Telegraph as a Young Reporter, I had no experience whatsoever in community work. Back then, in the first half of 2019, I was just a 14 year old boy who took himself as his main company, stayed as much as possible away from the social scene in my school, and made little connections to the outside world. Yet I still yearned for a relatable connection in which I could express myself without the feeling I was a fish out of water, and who’s words would not only be understood by himself but by other teens as well.
Jenny (the woman who makes a fine job running the Young Reporters program) was able to get in contact with me, via a teacher in my school who convinced me to become part of the Young Reporters, I already had my high expectations how I would be settling into the program. But despite that, those high expectations still ended up being exceeded following the first 2 hour session that came within the meetings.
The truth was, I never saw much success in finding a group before which I would confide in. With the Young Reporters, something more came from that. I always worried about group interaction, not just because of the chance of not fitting appropriately into the conversation, you always have to consider what kind of influence those interactions would have on you. However just 10 seconds after entering the building where we would have our meetings, I already found closure to both of those questions.
What I particularly hold on close to in my memory during those 5 months in the program was never about seeing my face in the papers, it was the humanity I experienced within each of the members. To me, it was teenage humanity at its finest. They were young men and women, a year younger or a year older than my age, who shed their image as children, and shaped themselves as the defining example of how one should see, and how one would want to be a young adult.
To me, I had absolutely no excuse at all to stay in the background and maintain the role of an observer. It felt like it was both my duty, and my own personal sake, to get involved in the conversation. I didn’t have to worry about the other reporters’ interactions with me developing a bad influence on myself, it felt like the absolute opposite. I wanted to posses their poised, casual, caring and professional manner into my own self. All the reporters, in my group, certainly found a way to make this one boy feel touched deep down, and would walk out of the program with not just ambition, but with self-reflection, inner growth and development of how a man should be.
These reasons were what probably made it particularly sad when my time there was up. As I confess now, I held something of an attachment towards the group. But this also made the news even greater when I was given the opportunity to join a group called Youth Action. And much to my luck, I was able to further interact with the other reporters who were also part of this group and I’ve already known for months, while at the same time, being more than comfortable making interactions with the members I wasn’t familiar with. The best part about Youth Action was that, much like the Young Reporters were, I never felt as if I was invisible at all. Even during the time of the first wave of COVID (where I never showed up at a zoom meeting) I still didn’t feel separated from them, which is when you know they had a good impact on you.
As I’m writing this, I’ve come full circle to the fact that I just achieved the accomplishments of now having an article I wrote published in a book, I am now doing community meetings with police officers, as well as becoming an ambassador for SEND (Special Educational Needs Disability) children and young people.
Yet all this had to come from a start. The Young Reporters was ‘my’ start. It was my first chapter, and one that I should cherish still by the time it will be ten years since I started with the Young Reporters.
Article by Young Reporter Tomos Marland