Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for February, 2009

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.

Inspire India – Staff Selection Weekend

I’ve finally got the chance to write about the amazing residential weekend we had a couple of weekends ago. As I mentioned in a recent post, we’re putting together a targeted youth support programme for young people which includes an overseas experience in India run in conjunction with Raleigh. To that end we were up really nice and early the other weekend to meet at Cobnor to put a group of 14 staff from across West Sussex County Council through their paces. Our aim – to find 5 people who could lead, facilitate and develop the group of 30 young people that will be taking part in the programme. Here is a snippet of what they went through.

The weekend was a great success and we found our 5 staff. Other unexpected outcomes was the positivity everyone experienced working across different services. We had people from the Youth Offending Service, Family Link workers, Social Workers, Voluntary Youth Services and more and they all fed back that they had enjoyed the chance to work together as a team on practical tasks during which they got to know and understand work with young people from a different perspective. Definately food for thought as we move forward with integrated services! It’s the young peoples Taster Weekend next and then that’s me done for a while on residentials……..hopefully I can then refocus on the day job!!

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?


Inspire India Begins!

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

Raleigh logoThis 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…)

Charlton Chase 2009

With wind, rain and snow taking up most of last week it was with some trepidation that I could be seen heading out last Saturday night to help out on the Charlton Chase.

This is an all night navigation exercise (depending on skills!) for young people from across West Sussex which has been run annually by the County Youth Service  since 1981.

The support base is at Seaford College (and our thanks to them their continuing help in providing this)  and takes place over open country so young people need to be physically fit, able to navigate at night, have a basic knowledge of first aid, hill walking and be able to look after themselves in adverse conditions. The course consists of six main checkpoints at which the teams can gain points for the completion of exercises designed to test their teamwork and initiative. This year, even with the weather we had over 320 young people taking part (!) in eighty teams and over 100 volunteers supporting the event.

A big congratulations and thank you needs to go to colleagues who put a tremendous  amount of hard work and effort into this, from the co-ordination and administration of teams, to sourcing volunteers to man checkpoints, to working out where the routes will go, to working on the night. And the main thanks must go to our Duke of Edinburghs Award, Outdoor Education and Accreditation Manager  who (amazingly) oversees all bases and keeps it all together in the run up and on the night (in conjunction with the day job!)

Blogging and Wiltshire Youth Service

A colleague and myself found ourselves in rural Wiltshire the week before last thanks to David Whelwell. I’ve conversed with David online both here and also through other online forums. He followed our China Exchange Blog and invited us to talk to colleagues from Wiltshire Youth Service about our blogging experiences. It was a really helpful and useful experience as we had the opportunity to truly reflect on our experience of blogging with young people. I’ve been trying to make sure that I keep using video etc to support this blog so the short animoto video below shows a little of what we did. (I’m still learning what photos to take and haven’t yet worked out how to add video to this as I’ve seen others do).

Anyway, back to the day itself… what was key was the sharing of our experiences with others and hearing what youth workers were currently trying out in Wiltshire. There were some interesting discussions and sharing of information. What struck me during these discussions was the need to have an interest and be prepared to have a go with digital media even if you’re not too sure where it’s going to take you! One definate  ‘take away’ for me was their investment in using online resources for training youth workers, something I think is essential for developing digital skills and confidence in our staff and that I will be sharing with our training staff.

China Follow Up Residential

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks with more to follow! The weekend before last I was part of the staff team who met up again with the young people who went on the China Exchange visit last October. We were running a follow up weekend with several experiences. We were reviewing their experiences, supporting them to make a storyboard in order to develop a DVD highlighting their journey, and planning for the return visit by the Chinese hopefully in July this year.

It was a really interesting weekend. First up we did an exercise where I read out statements and the young people had to place themselves on a line with totally agree at one end and totally disagree at the other end. The statements related to some of the issues and areas they discovered in China, for instance whether Europe should adopt a one child policy, that young people in the UK should adopt a Chinese approach to the elderly, that it was better to be poor in the UK than in China and so forth. The object was to be provocative and to challenge their learning and thoughts and this was certainly achieved….leading to thought provoking discussions about democracy and freedom of choice.

Saturday was spent doing storyboarding. We encouraged the group to draw pictures of the things that really stood out for them during the 10 days and to reflect on why this was so and what they had felt at the time. As you can see on the video, there was lots of discussion and they made a wonderful scroll of their visit. They used this as the basis of reviewing video clips and starting to develop ‘their’ story.

They’ve also been working on a presentation and celebration event to include parents. Although there was a lot of hard work put in on the video over the weekend there is still a lot to do. The group have developed their return visit plan for the Chinese and also discussed how much longer they remain engaged in this work. Many of them have exams coming up so will be limited but they are still all very enthusiastic and keen to host the return group. I’m also looking at how they might support us in some of the other international work we’re doing as I’m keen for them to be able to support give a young persons perspective on our future projects. So, although this part of the project is winding up there are various other avenues for them to keep involved with our work and hopefully share their experiences with others.

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