AN 18-YEAR-OLD domestic abuse survivor has landed an amazing "peer researcher" role to talk to young people about their experiences of growing up in Merseyside, and attempt to improve society for future generations.

Iysha Begum, from St Helens, started her work with the Peer Action Collective (PAC) last month as part of an 18-month, nationwide project to understand the experiences of young people across the country and instigate social change from the ground up.

Funded by the Co-Op, the Youth Endowment Fund and the #iwill fund, researchers will interview thousands of young people aged 10-25 to learn of their experiences, concerns and encounters with violence whilst growing up.

The main goal of the project is to understand the experience of life as a young person in the 21st century, and put their findings at the heart of implementing positive social change. In other words, young people will be making the changes they want to see.

St Helens Star: Iysha with her mum Shana and two younger brothersIysha with her mum Shana and two younger brothers

Aiming to interview 480 young people across Merseyside, Iysha said she will use her own lived experience to connect with her interviewees and their encounters with violence.

In December 2018, aged just 15, Iysha fled to St Helens with her mum and two young brothers after repeated episodes of domestic abuse in another North West town.

Speaking about this, Iysha said: "At the time I didn't really know it was abuse, but it did really affect me emotionally. Then Covid hit after moving schools, so my studies stopped abruptly and that was a difficult time for me."

Nevertheless, Iysha now perceives her struggle as a way to enact positive change through the PAC project and help others with their mental health.

The Winstanley College student explained: "Mental health is something I'm most passionate about [...] and its something that drives me, to create a safe space for people to speak openly about their problems."

With mental health expected to be a significant theme in the research, Iysha said she will be asking young people what they think should change in the treatment of young people with mental health issues.

At the end of next year, the researchers from across the country will pile together their work and present a framework of what young people want to see change.

Using these findings, the group will campaign for government funding and for policy change to ensure young people's concerns are being addressed and improved for future generations.

With aspirations to go to University next September, Iysha added: "This has been an amazing opportunity for me and so far everyone has been fantastic.

"I just hope at the end of the 18 months, we can keep going and do more to improve society for young people."