Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Posts tagged ‘volunteering’

The Big Society in Practice

With further reductions in Youth Services I continue to be intrigued by the concept of Big Society and how this is portrayed by some as the panacea to all the financial reductions. Now – don’t get me wrong, I’m all for contributing and volunteering in your local community and believe voluntary youth services are particularly strong.  It’s just that basing policy and services on the assumption that people who volunteer will want to do more, with little to no funding and do what we would like them to do has the potential to be either the most amazing idea ever or one that is fundamentally flawed. I tend to err towards the later.

As we move to Targeted Services due to funding reductions we are withdrawing from the universal delivery of generic youth clubs in the more affluent areas of the county. This affects many of our rural villages.  With this in mind I am one of probably many who is working with volunteers within local villages to see how they can take on the running of the local youth club. The meeting the other evening was a great example of what individuals are prepared and not prepared to do. The group are really keen to ensure that the club in their village remains open. They want to do as much as they can to do this and want us to work with them to find youth workers. However they are also really clear that they can’t do this without support and involvement from ‘professionals’ who know about systems, policies and how to work with young people.  We are able (at the moment) to offer advice, guidance and support and have also pointed them in the direction of voluntary organisations working in this field. However whilst they are happy to volunteer they don’t want to have to take on responsibility for employing staff, health and safety both on and off site….and the list goes on. Members however are equally clear that we can no longer employ staff to undertake youth work in these areas and that all the work is the responsibility of the volunteer groups. Impasse!

In some of the areas under discussion there are small groups of young people who have quite challenging behaviors. The group are aware of their limitations and can’t understand why we are looking to them as volunteers to deliver what they believe is an essential service for young people that should be delivered by those qualified to do so. This resonates for me with what Nick Wilkie wrote last September:-

“Nobody has suggested that our banks, for example, should be led into recovery by armies of well-intentioned volunteers. So surely we don’t think that equally complex social ills can be remedied entirely without professional expertise and full-time commitment?” (See full post here)

Local communities know this, volunteers know this, we know this and yet still we march towards the dismantling of universal services regardless of the potential damage this may cause. In the meantime the local communities and I are still meeting to see what we can create in spite of policy, the Big Society, and other good (?) intentions because we all know that at the end of the day the ones who are going to miss out are those most in need of support, encouragement and opportunities – young people!

Positive Stories of Young People

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve just been to Worth Abbey to the West Sussex Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award presentation. Even though it’s Sunday afternoon, Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Wimbledon mens tennis final 61 young people, carers and parents took part in the celebrations. So many times young people are maligned in the media for their anti social behaviour, their lack of interest in anything other than computers & TV, that they are no hopers, taking everything and giving nothing. These presentations however give a timely and much needed counter view of young people, congratulating instead a wide range of young people who have shown motivation,  commitment and dedication over a long period of time.

Today we heard from the group who completed their expedition in canoe on the River Wye, and learnt in practice what it means to paddle on a tidal river. (With the water flowing against you for half the time it’s not as simple as floating down the river!) There was a young man who had taken part in a British Schools Exploration Society expedition to the Yukon where he completed both his residential section and his expedition and another who built a kit car for his skills section and credits this with his interest in civil engineering. All of them have completed at least 12 months volunteering supporting their local communities, the environment and others. So here’s to their acheivements, let’s celebrate and share in their enjoyment (and see how many column inches these positive stories earn!!)

Social Media for advertising

It’s been interesting for me to discover and see how different organisations are trying to encourage and make use of different media to attract young people. I have been struck by two organisations using YouTube recently,

Firstly V who are currently promoting the V Cashpoint scheme which is looking to fund small youth-led projects which are aimed at filling a gap within a given community. (Needs to be young people aged 16-25yrs). They are using YouTube -

& have a Channel on site.

It was interesting and reassuring that charities like this are using public sites where we know that young people hang out to try and publicise their services.

I’ve also been struck by how Thad White over in Alaska is promoting the activities for Third Place Youth.

 The way in which he’s done this and added it to the blog strikes me as a way in which we could look at how we fulfil our part in promoting postive activities – perhaps having a real live announcements section on our county youth website? Has anyone else ot any other exampkes of promoting youth activities like this? – I know there are a number for media competitions but how about just promoting what is happening in the youth centre?

Youth Work and Outdoor Education

WoW! I can’t get over how varied my job can be. Had lots of different discussions and developments today but I will just blog ones I’m pondering.

One of my responsibilities is Outdoor Education. In West Sussex there are 3 Outdoor Activity Centres and a Camp Site. At the moment we are looking to develop work with the outdoor centres, schools, and the youth wings to support the transition for vulnerable children moving up from year 6 to year 7.

 Cobnor Activity Centre

This will hopefully start after the summer half term and will broadly be in three phases. Phase one will be about working across all services to develop the group and start some activities with them, phase two will be some form of outdoor experiences over the summer (a bit like a Junior Activity Club), Cobnor Activity Centreand then phase three is when they start the autumn term and will involve sessions in the Youth Wing, and hopefully some form of peer mentoring. Although this is not necessarily targetting our 13-19 age range there are a number of spin offs.

Firstly there is the major need for integrated working with a range of different partners and services. Then there will be the involvement of young volunteers in running the outdoor activities. At Cobnor Activities Centre a really good volunteer training scheme has been set up to encourage young people to gain outdoor qualifications and then work with children on the summr camps. This has been very successful and developed some of our youth work with the older age range.

I’m also hoping that another spin off is to start encouraging staff and other services in working out how we are going to identify the ‘vulnerable’ young people which can also inform some of the Targeted Youth Support work I will be involved in. So all in all I think that this will be an interesting piece of work with lots of potential.

Cobnor Activity Centre

PS – Thanks DK for talking me though an easier way of posting images……it hasn’t taken me hours this time!!!!

Starting Out

Well, I’m just starting out on this project and hope that it’s going to prove it’s worth as I start to suss out and discover how all the ‘new’ media can be used to help support the youthwork that I do and manage. It’s amazing what I am discovering as I slowly learn and navigate my way through the morass of information that you can dig up through googling and simple connecting from link to link.

And I’m not even at work at the moment….just doing it for fun!

Having just gone back over the Mediasnackers site I’ve discovered that there’s an interesting event over in Ireland, the Youth Media Democr&cy that looks like it could have a lot more info and discussion points. I think I’m away then, maybe I can source a colleague to go to check things out. I’ve been tasked, or will be once we have some more managers on board, to put together a strategy to develop our use of social media as well as to move our website forward. I’m not at all techie so learning very slowly how to get around all this.

Well, got to go – work will come around all to soon and need to be fresh tomorrow to finish off the volunteering strategy and move offices!

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