Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for June, 2009

Chinese Exchange Group Returns!

Courtesy of Tama Leaver

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.

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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!

Social Media from India

Courtesy of Raleigh

Courtesy of Raleigh

One of our current challenges for the Inspire India Programme is how we keep computers and digital cameras etc charged up in remote areas with very limited electricity. Working in conjunction with Raleigh we will have 30 young people and 5 staff out in Southern India near Mysore. They will be split into 2 groups after their initial training and be involved in building toilets in remote tribal villages. Following this they will have some more specific cultural visits and then take part in 3 trekking projects.

During the time we hope they will have the opportunity to blog about their experiences, they will no doubt already be taking photos and video. We are developing this to support the experience and their reflection as this is an area that worked really well with the group that went to China. Using what we learnt in China we are looking to have a couple of netbooks, a dongle and encourage the group to email a key contact here in the UK who will do the uploading to the blog etc.

As mentioned earlier our challenge is charging the hardware. The Flip cameras will work fine for the video blogs as they run off aa batteries and have USB plugs. So my next task is to look up what is out there that might work……….although perhaps you can point me in the right direction!!!!!

Youth Work Online Unconference

For those of you that haven’t yet picked it up or read it on the Youth Work online ning there will be an unconference this year on 11th July. You can find out more about the Connected Generation: 2009 unconference on online engagement here on Tims blog.

It’s free to attend, in the same place in Central London as last years thanks to Steph Grey and DIUS, and registration is now open.

If you work with young people and are interested in developing ways in which you can use social media and online technologies to engage and work with them then this unconference is an ideal opportunity to meet others and discuss how to make this a reality. It’s  an opportunity to explore big ideas, and the practical realities of weaving the web into work with young people so head on over to Tims site and register now!!

Snowed Under in June!

Courtesy of Wonderlane

Courtesy of Wonderlane

Yep, it’s almost the summer and here I am Snowed Under! Not literally of course! Although there is lots happening here at the moment and I would love to write about it work is so hectic that I’m just keeping on top of it (hopefully) and can’t get the time to actually comment on anything. (I have to have a bit of time out!) Just to give you a taste of life at this end:-

  • I manage 2 District (Operational) areas usually through team leaders who I work with to strategically plan and organise the delivery of all the statutory youth work in the area. However – one has successfully been promoted (congratulations!) and is now joining us on the Senior Management Team and the other is on long term sick leave. In one area one of neighbourhood workers is successfully acting up however in the other I am directly managing the youthwork staff there. They are a great team and the work that is happening in the area is developing all the time.
  • We’ve got summer camps and positive activities programmes for children (8-13yrs) to organise and set up and run however our first plan for doing this has fallen through due to sickness and difficulties recruiting so we are now on about plan D. Exciting but stressful!
  • Inspire India is in full flow (as is our learning curve with regards to this project!) We have 32 targeted young people (16-19yrs) in the process of getting organised to go on a 4 week overseas experience to India at the end of July follwed up by volunteering in their communities for 3 months on their return. We have had parents / guardians / carers information evenings, residential weekends and staff evenings to contend with. This along with supporting the staff is quite hectic!
  • We’ve had a number of operational issues as well as recruitment difficulties with one of our main outdoor centres. This has been well covered by our new DofE, Accreditation and Outdoor Education Manager who has needed a lot of support as they have only just completed their induction. On top of this they have had to (successfully) deal with an AALA Inspection straight away!
  • Tw0 youth wings are on school sites that are going to be Academies at the start of the next school year.   I need to work closely with the new regimes to organise the youth facilities, service level agreements and also a new build on one site.
  • And then there are the ongoing recruitment issues!

In themselves these, coupled with my other areas of work, aren’t complicated to manage or do. I’ve got a great opportunity to get out and see what is happening on the ground and I’m enjoying getting practical.  However the main issue is that the day job of my strategic leads still needs to be covered. I’ve moved from strategic to operational and trying to juggle the 2 is / has been difficult.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting nearer!! I’ve

Courtesy of C.P.Storm

Courtesy of C.P.Storm

appointed a new team leader who will hopefully start at the end of July, the other team leader who has been ill is due to return very soon and we have a new Outdoor Centre Manager! I’ve also booked time out for most of this week to crack some of my policy / papers/ strategic thinking! So, hopefully this blog will resume in the next few weeks……here’s to the summer!

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