The Young Advocates for Youth Justice  

The Young Advocates for Youth Justice  

The Young Advocates project was established in 2020 in partnership with the Alliance for Youth Justice graciously made possible by Children in Need. The Young Advocates for Youth Justice are a group of 12–21-year-olds, from across England and Wales that have had experience of the youth justice system under the age of 18. This include but is not limited to having experience of being a survivor, school exclusion, exploitation, policing, arrest, courts, custody and more. The project places these children and young people with experiences at the heart of decision-making, by collaboratively developing the knowledge, skills, and platform to influence youth-justice policy and practice from local to parliamentary level.

The Young Advocates choose areas of focus within the justice system that are most important to them and have regular meetings – face to face and online – to plan and review the progress of their work. In the first year the group spoke to 120+ children and young people across England and Wales about Stereotyping, Education and Warning Signs, and Jails, and co-authored their first report, which was released in January 2022 and contains all the findings from the first phase. For the second phase the group has chosen: Policing, Criminalisation, Trauma, and Intervention and Diversion and peer research for these topics began in March 2023.


"Different experiences and different backgrounds – that is probably what I would say is one of our biggest strengths, there is no judgement or racism and we really do feel like experts by experience, we all respect what people have going on in their lives."

How it works

There are 3 points of power that make the Young Advocates so special:

  1. Personal Development – the Young Advocates are closely supported by specialist staff and trusted experts to achieve individual and group goals
  2. Peer to Peer Engagement – the Young Advocates work together to explore their chosen priority topics and hold solution-focused discussions to gather views from children and young people with similar experiences
  3. Policy and Practice Influencing – the Young Advocates’ use the insight, skills, and recommendations developed throughout the year to engage with decision-makers and professionals that impact children and young people’s lives on a daily basis
  • Do you know someone that would be a good addition to the Young Advocates team? Applying here is easy and the project has a rolling deadline!
  • Would your organisation like to offer the group a guest speaker, training, venue space, or something else?
  • Could professionals in your team benefit from being trained or mentored by a Young Advocate?

Get in touch for more information, partnership opportunities, and all other inquiries via amania@leaders-unlocked.org



‘The aim of the Young Advocates is to enable young people to have a stronger voice and influence over the issues that affect their lives. Throughout my life I have dealt with my fair share of professionals and although they try and do what’s best for all young people, sadly that’s not always the case. That’s because times are changing, young people are experiencing different struggles, the best way to deal with this is to get children’s opinions and listen to them.

The difference between the Young Advocates is that most projects only involve young people to tick boxes, Young Advocates don’t do that. They treat all young people as equals no matter what role you play or how old you are, everyone’s thoughts and opinions are shared and get pushed to the full extent to whomever you want them to go to, and they are also acted upon so you can see the results.

Anyone can listen to a young person’s ideas, but I haven’t come across anyone who has acted on your behalf, presented something you’re passionate about without changing your words. They don’t ask you to tell them what you want to tell you what’s best for you, children aren’t listened to enough. You are able to talk through adults and that way you’re taken seriously, and your voice really gets heard. Overall Young Advocates make you know and feel anything you put across is of value and isn’t a waste of time.’

Get involved

If you’re interested in getting involved with the work we do at Leaders Unlocked, please do send us a message via our contact us page. We are always keen to hear from young people who may want to take part in our projects, as well as professionals who may want to collaborate.

More than 65% of our
staff came from Leaders Unlocked projects

"In this world it’s difficult for young people to feel like they have a say or a voice, and increasingly it feels like the world we’re going to be left is pretty crazy… in the midst of that it feels like we’re doing something positive and we are taking ownership of the situation."