Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for the ‘Youth – General’ Category

Record numbers Vote!

WoW! The figures are in and (somewhat belatedly) I am amazed that against a backdrop of restructuing the Youth Voice & Engagement team have managed to encourage and support a record number of young people to participate in the West Sussex Youth Cabinet & UK Youth Parliment elections.

It’s the 11th year elections have been held and they have grown more sophisticated over time with an electronic voting system now in place.  However we have mixed and matched this with the more traditional system of ballot papers to ensure everyone can participate. A total of 20,088 young people voted casting a total of 39,163 in both elections, meaning that 23 percent of young people in West Sussex aged between 11 and 19-years-old took part in the democratic process – an amazing accomplishment.

Candidates included young parents, young carers, and young people with multiple needs as the team worked to ensure that as many young people were engaged in the process as possible. There were also some polling stations in foyers, youth centres and mobile provisions.

Almost all the young people voted on to the Youth Cabinet were new to the role and a weekend residential (more later) was planned to start inducting them into their roles.

So – congratulations to all involved and lets hope that this is the beginning of an amazing year for youth voice!!

 

Positive Images, Positive Young People

In the governments recent Positive for Youth discussion paper one of the areas under discussion is the negative perception of young people and what can be done about it.  How can we and young people work together to counteract negative media portrayal?

This is a key aim of  West Sussex Youth Service and West Sussex Council of Voluntary Youth Services  who joined together in partnership at the South of England Show to show young people in a different light. Working with young people we developed a main stand, “Teen Square” where young people showed their wide range of talents, and then a number of differing stands and activities to promote the services available to young people. We feel that this both successfully engaged young people giving them an opportunity to perform and showed the wider public what amazing talent we have here in West Sussex! See what you think!

Developing the New World!

It always felt as though there wasn’t enough time in the day to do the day job and now the day job has increased and developed. The pressure is still on to restructure services and reduce costs within the financial year.

It is an interesting and challenging time to be managing staff as there are so many uncertainties and concerns which all take time to process.
Voluntary redundancy (VR) interviews have been had and the VR window has now closed. Staff are now waiting the news as to whether they have been successful in their applications and what that means for those who have decided to remain. Will they have to go through a selection process for the new positions or have sufficient people opted for VR from their ‘ringfence’?

We are also heavily engaged in developing the new look service. With Take Over day the week before last it was a great time to talk to young people about their concerns and involvement in the new service. Take a look at how we did this on our Yourspace Website

A Brave New World?

Courtesy of Icelight

I initially wrote this in early September since when work has increased considerably however I thought it was still a useful reflection in these rapidly moving times.

“I’ve just returned from my holidays and started back at work and it’s all happening with a vengence! After numerous consultations (staff, user groups, other agencies and partners) and the proposals for the restructuring of the youth service facing the Council Select Committee twice we have now started statutory staff consultations. A great time of upheaval for all the staff who have worked tirelessly over the summer on a variety of youth programmes and continue to deliver excellent youth services.

Alongside the consultation we are developing sub projects around the new shape of the service. On the brink of the changes it is interesting to think about how much the service will actually change. In discussions with colleagues we felt that the new challenge, as well as supporting and working with everyone concerning the staff reductions, alterations in the delivery of services etc. will be in trying to think differently.

Having been presented with a new organisational structure I found myself automatically thinking “oh, that means that we will have x ” based on our current roles and responsibilities. I had to challenge myself to  look at other ways in which we could deliver our services and how new roles might work. I have recently had similar experiences with staff .”

…. New thinking is an ongoing challenge which we continue to work on at the moment at all levels. So the question is…..how much of a “new world” will there be?!?

From CDRP to Yurts!

Driving hectically round the county mulling over how diverse my job is I thought I’d give you a bit of a taste of what I’m up to in the lead up to the summer holidays.

I started off in the office dealing with emails, responding to some press comments, sorting out staffing issues, recruitment, advertising…..I’m sure you know the kind of stuff. Then it was off down the coast to a Crime Disorder and Reduction Partnership – Communications meeting (CDRP) where we were discussing the way in which the partnership communicates what it’s doing to the public. Part of the discussion focused on young people and an idea or two started to germinate around how we might be able to support young people to talk about their communities and what has changed using video blogs and putting them online.I also learnt that you can now get hand held gadgets that you can use for questionnaires and it all happens electronically…..now how much time does that save?!?!?!

Following this meeting it was back in the car again for an hours drive across country to our campsite. Stedham is a beautiful place (you can see some of it on the video) where we (West Sussex County Council, managed through the Youth Service) have a great low impact campsite. Through external funding we are running some targeted summer camps. One week will be focussing on Young Carers and the other will be Children in Care. Due to the uncertainty over the British weather and concerns about having a lot of wet young people we have brought some new Yurts (large Mongolian tents) to use as bases for the differing groups as required. They look like they will really add to our group work but don’t take my word for it….have a look and see what you think!

Celebrating Young Peoples’ Achievements

Last Saturday evening I went to the first Young Peoples’ celebration event for those young people involved with West Sussex Youth Service in Worthing. It was a great evening with over 100 young people coming together to enjoy and celebrate their work, play and involvement. The staff hadn’t anticipated quite such a big turn out (after all it was a Saturday!!!) which meant a last minute shuffle for chairs and finding space for the latecomers. As a ‘first’ it was a great step forward and hopefully next year more young people will be involved in planning and delivering the event now that they’ve got a taste for it. Here’s a brief look – :)

Virtual International Youth Work?!?

I was having a wander around the internet and checking on my Google Reader feeds this morning (gosh, I am getting technical with my speak!) when I came across this post from Vicki Davis on the Cool Cat Teacher Blog. I’ve followed the Flat Classroom project a little and also the Flat Classroom Conference.  and love the idea of this work. I suppose I’m now wondering how we might use this in youth work? Or perhaps someone already is and I don’t know about it?!

When I look online it always feels as though schools and education in some ways are so much more advanced in how they use social media then informal education (or maybe that should be the statutory youth sector?) I think there is a lot we can learn from here. thinkingAt the moment I’m reflecting on the West Sussex China Exchange last year and wondering if we have another visit next year how could we link ‘virtually’ to others here in the UK…or before we do that perhaps there is someone interested in how we join up virtually across the country and work on a subject together? Hmm……definately food for thought!

Mobile Phones and the impact on young people

Courtesy of Milica Sekulic

Courtesy of Milica Sekulic

One of my key learning points from the weekend that we have just run is the impact that mobile technology now has on young people and how different this is to my own experience, not only as a young person but also as a youthworker. When I was younger you either arranged to meet up with your mates when you saw them, rang them over the weekend to make arrangements (or to chat) or popped over to theirs if you hadn’t organised anything. If you didn’t do any of these you didn’t see them and had no communication until the Monday back at school, college, uni or whatever. To some extent this gave you an independence from the relationships you formed and meant that you had to just ‘get on with it’. It also meant that you had to forward plan to some extent or live with ‘chance’ and luck more.(Maybe they would be up the park, in the high street etc)

This weekend we were giving young people a taste of what it might be like when they go to India. On the Saturday morning when they arrived (mostly not knowing anyone) they were asked if they would hand over their mobile phones and mp3 players. I was amazed at the furore this caused. They were shocked that they weren’t going to be able to communicate with anyone! (Although there were another 37 young people on the weekend!! :) )  Many of them wanted to keep their phones to keep in touch with parents as well as friends and also found this difficult. However, hand them over they did and they were amazed at the results.

Feedback at the end of the weekend from the young people was how hard (but good) it had been not to have their mobile phone. That they had had to make friends all the more because they couldn’t rely on their usual network of ‘mobile’ friends and the support they got from there, instead they had to rely on the people they were with. They had had to have face to face conversations and depend on the group.

Now, I know I should know and realise, (after all I’ve seen DKs Mediasnackers presentation) but I hadn’t really put together the impact mobile phones have on delivering youth work until this weekend. Given my involvement in Social Media and awareness of tools like Twitter I’m surprised how I hadn’t really thought about its impact. That is the impact on youth workers and how it must affect the delivery on group work sessions, and even how you plan sessions, deliver residentials etc. What you do and how you’re doing can be reported in real time to a much wider audience via the texts etc that young people are sending during your session. This can have its downsides as well as its upsides and I guess that, surprisingly, I hdan’t really thought about it. I had thought about its use in terms of the upsides but not on how it could and probably does impact on youth work colleagues delivering face to face work. I think that I’ll definately be chatting to colleagues during our upcoming conference to find out more about this.

How about you? Are you of the generation who has always known mobile technology and therefore its just a part of life and youth work? Does it affect your delivery? What do you think?

Hectic Preparations

Courtesy Lepiaf geo

Courtesy Lepiaf geo

It’s not even the weekend and I’m shattered already! It’s been a busy week with lots of variety as usual, ranging from starting the induction process for one of our new Positive Activities for Children Co-ordinators, going through budgets to prepare for the financial year end, meeting and going through our provision Positive Activities for Young People (PAYP), looking at the discussion about Accreditation and target driven youth work that Mike and Jon (amongst others) have been having online, linking with our web editor for our youth website to highlight and prioritise our work, supporting some of our staff who are experiencing personnel issues, getting involved in the handover for the manager that’s leaving one of the Outdoor Education centres I’m responsible for, as well as getting ready for the Inspire India Taster Weekend we are delivering this weekend for 38 young people from targeted backgrounds. And that’s only some of it!!!! So….I may not be quite on top of the online ball but hope to be posting more after the weekend.

Accreditation Review

Courtesy of Phillie Casablanca

Courtesy of Phillie Casablanca

I had a meeting with our new DofE, Accreditation and Outdoor Education Manager today as part of their induction as the stragtegic direction for accreditation and Recorded Outcomes fall under my remit. It was a really good meeting (or at least I hope so!). When I was preparing for the meeting I went back over the West Sussex Youth Service guide to Accreditation that I put together just under 2 years ago. (Wow! Doesn’t time fly!)  I know that there is a lot of debate around accredited outcomes and I have joined in a few. Jon Jolly is currently doing some research for his dissertation on Outcome Based Youth work, if you have the time to help out he has a very quick questionaire to fill in and would really appreciate it.

Overall however I’m positive about accredited and recorded outcomes, especially when they are built into youth work programmmes from the outset and are a product of the process. I think the difficulty is in picking the appropriate scheme for the work you’re doing and looking at different ways in which you can evidence work rather than through written portfolios. This is something I have asked our incoming manager to review and see where else we need to develop our guidance and support to youth workers.

This is also where I think that digital media can come into it’s own….I’m just figuring out the what and hows so that we can then roll out some supporting training for our staff. In particular I think there are 2 online platforms that could support Recorded Outcomes, these are Dipity with an example here of the Worthing Youth Mayors year and a newer one that I haven’t yet had a chance to explore more Capzles. So what do you think? Are there any particular online platforms you would recommend for this type of work?


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