I was at a meeting of the South East Youth Partnership (SEYP) International Committee up at the British Council Offices in London on Monday. The Committee comprises representatives from local authorities and the voluntary sector from across the South East Region. Our remit is to promote and support International Youth Work, with a particular focus on the youth in action programme funded through the European Commission.
As the committee started to plan ahead and look at International youth work strategically across the region it became obvious that we were trying to do this against a background of disquiet and uncertainty. With reductions in services happening across the South East most people were unsure whether they were going to actually be in post in October (the date we were planning a promotional and getting started event). Some services are in the middle of restructuring, others were going through their second or third round and yet others had not yet started.
We had a long discussion to decide what sort of an event we should put on, whether we should hold one at all and who to aim it at. In discussion it was clear that there was definitely no one shape fits all in terms of services. In West Sussex we are in the midst of restructuring to form an Integrated Youth Support and Development Service, incorporating the Youth Offending Service, the Youth Service and Connexions although who will actually deliver the services is still to be decided. In other areas there is no youth service with youth workers being in integrated teams managed through Children Services Managers.
It was felt that International Youth Work is starting to be seen as the ‘icing on the cake’ and a ‘nice to have’ so there was incertainty over how ‘managers’ may perceive the benefits of releasing staff to attend a training day on accessing funds in this way. However after much debate we decided that we should go ahead with a promotional / training event. With many grants ending in March 2011 (in particular the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Fund) the Youth In Action funding could be used as a means to support some of the work that was previously covered through the YOF funding. In particular the Youth Initiative part of the programme could be helpful as you don’t even need to go abroad to apply for and gain the funding. The event will be targeted predominantly at practioners.
So – the event is going to go ahead and I will post more details as it gets organised. In the meantime it is worth reflecting on the support that many colleagues need in this period of uncertainty……where Change is the only certainty!
Courtesy of Tama Leaver
Wow! At last our Chinese partners, the Shandong Youth Federation, have confirmed that they will be coming to the UK on the return leg of the Youth Exchange we’ve organised! Some of you may recall that last year was the first opportunity we had to take a group of young people to China. They blogged about their experiences as well as creating a short film that they showed at the beginning of this year to a wide audience. We have always been aiming to host an incoming group and this will be the first time that our partners are sending young people instead of a group of youth work staff. As ever communications have been difficult (something we are hoping to clarify when the group is here) and it has taken some time to get confirmation of their visit.
Two of the young people from last autumns group are organising the programme for the Chinese group, including homestays, and we are hoping to blog on the West Sussex Youth Service Chinese Exchange Blog whilst they are here. So if you’re keen to keep an eye on our exploits then please log in from 3rd August onwards.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will have guessed by now that I am passionate about young peoples development through using International experiences.
To this end I have been putting together a year long Targeted Youth Support Programme with a bit of a difference, hopefully. Aimed at young people aged 16-19yrs who fall within our targeted groups and working across children and young peoples services in West Sussex the Inspire India Programme seeks to empower young people and support them to make choices and recognise their own skills & abilities. It will consist of six phases:-
Phase 1 – Recruitment of 30 young people and five staff from West Sussex
Phase 2 – Preparation and training of young people in all aspects of the programme
Phase 3 – Overseas Experience to India
This will be a 3-week experience delivered by Raleigh in conjunction with staff from West Sussex County Council. Key areas of the Overseas Experience will be:
• Personal Development
• Arts Programme (Cultural)
• Global / Development Education
• Community Volunteering Project
• Adventure / Challenge Project
Phase 4 – Volunteering in the community post expedition
On return each young person will be supported to engage in a volunteering placement and gain accreditation for this through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme. We hope to be working with Outset Youth Action, Locality Youth Forums and the European Voluntary Services scheme to access and support placements for young people from the programme. Alternatively the young people may want to lead and develop their own volunteering projects and would be supported to access funding to implement them. (eg. Vcashpoint, Youth Opportunity Fund etc).
Phase 5 – Follow Up and Review
This is a key aspect (more…)
Well, it finally looks like the plan to initiate a youth exchange with China is likely to become a reality! As I mentioned here, after a number of youth worker exchanges we were hoping to set something up for young people. Shandong Youth Federation have replied to our emails confirming that they are interested in hosting up to 20 young people. Unfortunately the other local autorities have had to pull out so we’re going to look at taking a smaller group of 10-12 young people probably aged between 16-19yrs.
I’m really excited about this and hoping that we can use some of the things we are learning about social media and the internet to support this work. I’m really keen to see if we can do some projects like the Life in New China Project supported by What Kids Can Do and Adobe Youth Voices. Or blogging like the young people involved in Beijing Voices. The tricky part is, although communication systems are easier than before, trying to work out how we are going to be able to work together and get something going is quite difficult due to our different cultures.
When I went to China at the end of 2006 we were still trying to understand what sort of youth work happened over there as we mainly saw universities, cultural sites and various enterprises. As there is such an ethos of education, education, education (There’s been a great BBC3 series running about Chinese School education). it was difficult to find out what youth work they did and what happened to those who weren’t academically inclined.
When the Chinese delegation came here last summer we made a point of showing them some of our facilities and work that we did. Hopefully these visits has helped with what we’re hoping to set up.
Now we need to find out which young people are interested, what sort of things they want to do and learn out there and liaise with our Chinese colleagues to try and make all this happen (and all by October!!!) Oh, and not forgetting all the risk assessments etc, etc. Well, I can’t say life is dull!!!