Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for July, 2008

Some interesting links (or so I think)

Map of Online Communities by D'Arcy Norman

Map of Online Communities by D'Arcy Norman

On a couple of blogs I’ve seen a round up of sites and whilst I’ve been doodling around the net I’ve bumped into a few that I thought I would share in a quick hit whilst they are in my head (and high up on my delicious site!)

I found this through Flickr put together by D’Arcy Norman I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with the site, here at TouchGraph but it sure looks pretty! A bit like the Digg Labs Swarm

Youth Participation / Online Civic Engagement

Have a look here at Building Democracy where there is a new fund to support innovative ways to increase participation. With a forum to float ideas there are some interesting ideas and there must be some more youth ones we can develop.

There is also some interesting research and information about youth engagement at Engaged Youth

Well, that’s my first few…..more to come soon!

China Update – 1

Ok – I’ve decided that I need to somehow order my China inputs so I’ll just number the updates from now on. (unimaginative I know but hey…at least there’ll be some sort of order!).

Well, we’re going!! Last week I had to make a call as to whether to book flights or re-reserve them and have to pay a much higher price so I decided that we would take a risk and book them. I let our China contacts know and they quickly came back confirming the dates are ok. Still some queries on the programme (even more so as they’ve added a “tour of the mountain using ropework”!) however it looks like they have taken on board our request that the young people share 2 to a room and this will also happen on the homestay they are offering us. WoW! When I visited 2 years ago homestays were not an option so it’ll be fascinating to see how we get on.

greatwall (2)

The road to the Great Wall

We’ve had our Information Evening for friends, family and supporters which, although we tried hard not to make it doom and gloom, gave a realistic picture of what we may experience over there. (Transport, Accomodation etc) In doing this, and in making sure that everyone has a hard copy, we hope that people will be able to give informed consent. It’s things like everyone knowing that the coach we’ll use out there won’t have seat belts and the driving standards are different to ours so that they can decide if they are happy with that level of risk.

We’ve got our young people’s preparation residential this weekend coming which will be great fun (of course :) ) and hopefully will give the group an insight into themselves, who they are, what culture is and also heaps of media stuff. With luck I’ll be reporting back with photos and video blogs etc as this is a key part of our work with the group. (Of course, now that we’ve been inspired!) I’ll let you know how it goes…..

And now there are FIVE!!

Yep, the MediaSnackers training has persuaded Steve Humphries to start his own blog! I’m really looking forward to hearing more about Steves’ experiences as he works  in a part of the youth service  which provides targeted and intensive youth support to individual young people, and as such, has a slightly different perspective on youth work to those involved in traditional centre based youth work. 

And so our community grows!!!! Here’s to the next Statutory Youth Work Blogger……

Social Media Training with MediaSnackers

Wow! What a great and informative few days we had last week. A group of 10 of us from across the county got together for 2 days of training by MediaSnackers, I’ll talk a bit more about it in a moment but why write when you can see a more dynamic version so…..

Thanks DK and team!!!!

As you can see we were enthralled! The training gave us a good overview of lots of different sites that we could use both between ourselves as professionals as well as with young people and demystified alot of the technology (I even understand all about my RSS feeds now, something I’d managed to sort of pick up but isn’t it so much quicker when someone shows you how?!?!)

I think one of the real ‘in your face’ aspects of the training was that with very limited hardware (a few cameras and some mobile phones) and a little know how you can actually quickly design some great looking, funky sites, create polls and share lots of information. Having the chance to explore Bebo was quite eye opening to all of us as it was really easy and as Tim Davies  mentions on the Youth and Social Networking Research Project Blog  it’s amazing how much you can learn in such a short space of time. Tims’ also developed a one pager on how to get started on Bebo but really the best way to work out what it can do is to go and have a go yourself, try it out! With so many young people interested and using the site it has to be easy!

The training really brought home to us how little we think and use the internet in developing our work and just made us realise how much more we needed to get to grips with the technology. However for me the fundamental questions still need to be answered, how are we best going to use this, and developing technology to do or support our youthwork? And on we go towards our social media strategy!!!!

National policy, academies and other thoughts.

Wow! My comment on Hazel Blears blog was acutally read and responded to….how’s that for the power of blogging and social media! Some new Community Power Packs have been launched to support discussion and consultation on the White Paper which could be useful for supporting you to get young people’s views and thoughts and their involvement in the political process (you may need to adapt them to work with young people as the couple I have read so far tend to brush over young people’s specific involvement.)

Taking about ‘political education’ – one aspect of this or participation or empowerment work that we are currently supporting young people with also leads to me wonder how much consideration is given to joining up policies? Whilst there is a welcome (ish) support for the academies programme in funding new schools the issue is that it is purely about funding new school facilities. In a county where we have a large amount of community provision on school sites this provision is now under threat as the academies programme does not allow for the rebuild of this type of provision. Some of my youth work colleagues are now working in very difficult circumstances to support young people to protest at the potential loss of their ‘youth centre’ due to this programme,whilst protesting locally and empowering the young people to be involved in local district and county council meetings, and using this as a way of teaching them about budgets and how decisions are made about funding programmes at a national level, the young people are working hard together to try and ensure that their view is myplaceheard and that they can be a part of the solution.  For the staff it is difficult as the local authority supports the rebuild (as it understandably ensures some much needed new formal educational faciltities in some areas of high need) and yet there are no funds for any rebuilding of youth provision and they are having to juggle young peoples’ expectations through a period of uncertainty.

Isn’t it ironic that this is happening against the backdrop of Myplace which is aims to deliver world class youth facilities driven by the active participation of young people and their view and needs?!? Whilst the young people in this locality would welcome world class youth facilities they would prefer it even more at the moment not to lose the ones they have just because there is a lack of joined up thinking at a national level!

Communities in control, real people, real power!

Communities in controlFor those of you who haven’t picked it up yet Hazel Blears is blogging this week here on Communities and Local Government.  An interesting exercise where she is looking for information and feedback on the Communities in Control, real people, real power (white paper).

I’ve been very interested to see the white paper and in particular to note what has been written concerning young people. There is an element that I am confused by in the statement in 4.19 where it states that

“The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has provided discrete funding for young people to control – the Youth Opportunity Fund and the Youth Capital Fund. These funds will enable local authorities to develop new approaches to strategic investment in youth activities and facilities, particularly in deprived areas.”

As a local authority managing the YOF & YCF we have worked extremely hard to ensure that the funding has gone to grassroots level and engages with as many young people as possible. To this extent we have 24 young people led forums which are true to the nature of the fund where young people have the responsibility for bidding into and allocating such funding. What I am confused by is the second part of the statement concerning the use of such funds to strategically invest in youth activities and facilities? This leads to some interesting conversations concerning who has control of such funding and how we involve young people in making decisions that are truely theirs or token only? Or indeed how do we influence and encourage them to make strategic decisions? It just leads me to wonder whether there is a true and clear understanding of how these funds are managed across the country.

I was also interested in the section about Empowering Young People . It (more…)

Youth Work 4 Health

This week I went to the Youth Work 4 Health conference held by the National Youth Agency in Brighton. It was an interesting day with a lot of discussion about how you can use the Youth Work 4 Health (YW4H) good practice guidelines within different youth settings. Youth Work 4 Health

Good youth work has always sought to improve the physical and emotional health of young people and many projects are working, directly or indirectly, on health issues. The aim of these Guidelines is to provide a tool to enable individual workers, youth service managers in the public and voluntary sectors, commissioning bodies and partners to assess the quality and effectiveness of this work.”
 
Stemming from the Healthy Schools agenda there has been the realisation that it is hard to apply the Healthy Schools standards to the wide variety of settings found in youth work and that consequently a new set of guidelines are needed. The people attending were from a wide range of backgrounds (Yout Offending Services, Drug and Alcohol Reduction Teams, Voluntary Sector, Housing Associations etc. ) which led to some interesting discussions about how youth services in all their guises often reach young people who are seen as ‘hard to reach’ by other agencies and that because of this how we worked with young people around health was important.

I was particularly interested to see how (more…)

Disarming Britain

The other interesting item I picked up on recently was about the Disarming Britain series on Channel 4.  Mike Amos Sipmson has blogged about the tv programmes here and comments on “how much responsibility the popular media should take for glamourising gangs and street violence. How much of the fear that apparently drives some young people to carry weapons is actually rooted in the image of young people painted by the media, and how much do programmes like these improve matters or do they actually make them worse?”

The reason however that Disarming Britain popped up in my inbox was through a social issues games list that highlighted the game, Dead Ends that had been developed to run alongside the programmes. Reid Bryant Kimball writes about it in his blog here and offers some interesting ways in which the game could be developed, although I agree with the comment that Aaron Hung makes that it possibly should be more about the reasons why young people join violent gangs rather than why young people die in gang violence.

What I find really fascinating though is all the thought that has gone into trying to have a dialogue and involve everyone in the conversation. There is space to upload video, talk on facebook and bebo, blog comments etc. It is quite an integrated site (from my amateurs perspective!) for using the technology available although I am left wondering how Channel 4 are intending (or not) to take forward the issues raised. What will they do with the information and how / can this have an impact in a wider sense on developing support and understanding of knive crime? However what a great resource for youth workers looking for more facts, information and ways in which to raise and discuss the issues with young people.

So little time to….

..post!!!! It’s been an interesting time at work as I try to juggle everything and part of that is choosing what to blog and when. As ever the job is so varied that if I don’t concentrate it can all become a bit of blur (and that could get decidely confusing for everyone!) Fortunately our new Senior Manager started last week (phew and welcome!) and I can now start to hand over some of the work I have been holding.  (And also share and develop some of our interesting areas such as publicising our Positive Activities). Once I have done that I can start to concentrate in more depth on some of my specific areas like Curriculum Development, Targeted Youth Support (which actually seem to be able to cover most things!!)

One of the interesting things that I picked up on recently was this video from Dan Meyer

which made me wonder how we might use this sort of technology for informal work with young people. The thing that still strikes me most is the lack of statutory youth workers exploring this medium and really looking at it to see how we can change some of what we do. There are so many young people from faith groups and indeed faith based youth workers who are posting and contributing to the conversations and yet it is still very quiet on the statutory side. Still, one of our mottos at the moment is “Build and they will come” (Field of Dreams) so lets wait and see!

More news from China

Since I last posted about China here all had been very quiet so I was beginning to worry about how much off the cuff we were going to end up having to work. We have almost got the group of young people together, all aged between 16-19yrs with an interest in youth participation, and truely representative of the county which is great.

greatwall (10)At the end of last week I finally heard from the Shandong Youth Federation and namely the Youngsters Centre of Shandong Province. They have sent through an outline programme so now it is a case of trying not to get too bogged down in Risk Assessments but still ensuring that we have everything covered. (As well as trying to work out how we can / will use social media to support this!)

One of the key difficulties is in trying to understand what is being said in the communications. For instance at the moment the Chinese are keen for us to come earlier in October than we have suggested as it the “Picking Festival of fruits and vegetables” in the place they are suggesting we can stay. The description of the location sounds like a cross between an outdoor centre and an agricultural college….at least that’s how I’ve interpreted it so far. Then there are a lot of cultural visits suggested however I know that when we visited one of the most interesting parts was the discussions and interactions with people, especially young people at the universities and the technical college we went to. So – I need to work out how to politely suggest a bit of an alteration to the programme without being rude and also find out more about the Picking Festival!

Still – how exciting that it is all looking like it might happen….two years in the making but I think we will be able to do some really great youth work with the preparation for the visit, the visit itself and then hopefully hosting a return group next year!

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