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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Inspire India Staff Review (All Phases to date)

Finished Sanitation Uit

Finished Sanitation Uit

Last night I met with the Inspire India Staff Team to review the programme to date. It was a really interesting evening with lots of discussion, laughs and challenges. We are going to put together the information to date and I will post that later on. A few thoughts though that made me think and really struck home were:-

  • We had a long discussion as to whether the lead in time ought to be longer and why. Views varied from no, the timing was right and we may have lost some of the young people if it had been longer to yes, it should be much longer so that the young people know how hard it’s going to be and will drop out if they’re not committed enough. (Even though of 30 young people who went out to India we had only 2 returns, one of whom was a late notice replacement and wasn’t entirely versed in what the scheme was about). What came through from the discussions were the ‘judgments’ being made by the staff on which young people had benefitted from the experience (regardless of what the young people themselves were saying about their learning) and how much of this was related to the staffs own values and morals.  This proved to be quite a challenging and interesting conversation and I think all of us went away still mulling over the ideas presented.
  • The young peoples’ very positive reception of the whole blogging concept (even though we had done very little prep with them on this). The groups overseas worked with young people differently but both sets of staff felt that blogging supported and gave added structure and purpose to the experience.
  • The Community aspect that came across through the blogging including some very postive affirmations for a group of young people who probably don’t receive so much praise and interest. (And the fact that it is a permenant record that they can go back to whenever they want.)
  • The challenges of working in partnership – which we inherently knew would be the case and worked hard to minimise but weren’t as successful as we would have hoped to have been.
  • And finally, that all the staff still felt that it had been one of the most challenging and developmental experiences of their careers…..and were still keen to do more!!!

Some time was also put aside to put together the young peoples’s follow up and review in a weeks time. It will be interesting meeting up with them and seeing what they think now they’re back here. They will also be choosing what they want to do for the volunteering phase and finishing off the ASDAN International Award which they have been working on.

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Digital Media, Children and Young People

This summer I really think that we’ve started to integrate digital media into our work across the Youth Service and spread the message of what we do wider. For example, one of the by unintended by products of the young people blogging from India has been the impact on not only on them but also on their communities. Below are a few examples of how blogging has been going inter generational!

Blogging in India

Blogging in India

“Nanny pat been blogging every day and is as proud of you as we are.”

“Nan`s here tonight she`s very proud of  you and has really enjoyed seeing your pictures,teaching her how to blog!!!”

“Aren’t you impressed I am blogging? Look forward to seeing you. Love Nan and Grandadxxx”

“Will get dad to blog tomorrow”

Young people involved in the Inspire India programme all come from targeted backgrounds and it has been amazing to see the communal response to their experiences. Families, carers, workers and friends have been following their adventures, their ups and downs and giving them a lot of encouragement. When we have had to contact individuals we have frequently had comments about groups of relatives and friends sitting around the computer to post comments or to see what has been happening.

As well as this the young people in india have been learning how to use the video and digital cameras to capture ‘the moment’ and then spending time describing their experiences. Many of them have had negative experiences of writing at school however appear much happier to write on the computer and using text language, or textese simplifies communication for them. (Although I have to admit that sometimes I find it difficult to interpret! 🙂

Young people involved in hosting the chinese on the china exchange programme have been writing up their experience and reflections on the china blog and I’m hoping to post some video feedback from some of their discussions shortly.

As well as this young carers involved in the Summer Camps during the last two weeks have been keeping video diaries. (Again, watch this space for some examples of what they have been up to). We hope that this will develop into an ongoing piece of work with the young carers group that will give them an opportunity to share their experiences as young carers with others.

So……..we are starting to bring together the hardware, experience, knowledge and creativity to help us start taking toddler steps in using digital and social media in youth work. Whilst this is taking a long time I feel that with ongoing hard work and intiaitive we will be able to further develop this work and embed it more fully into our practice.

Countdown to Inspire India overseas

We’re in the final run up to the overseas part of the Inspire India Programme. I talked about this Targeted Youth Support programme more fully back in February in this post. Last Monday I went up to London on a quick return visit to get the final visas for the last few members of the group. We’ve been really successful in keeping nearly all of the original group of young people who have made enormous efforts to get themselves ready for the experience. 30 young

West Sussex Youth Service Inspire India 2009

West Sussex Youth Service Inspire India 2009

people from across West Sussex have been involved in the taster weekend and then less than 4 weeks ago we had the Challenge Weekend residential where they were camping at our campsite in Stedham. During the weekend they hiked, cooked for themselves and learnt more about Indian Culture. Working with Staff from Raleigh and West Sussex Youth Service they tested out kit (rucksacks, water ‘bladders’, boots) and also got to know each other better.

Everyone has been preparing for going and on Monday we are having our kit check and ‘launch’ to wish the group good luck. The group will be checking in their kit and then turning up on Friday with their hand luggage ready to go! We had a last minute drop out yesterday (even though we have been taking to them all regularly and offering lots of support on the telephone and by text.) So we’re now just trying to sort out a last minute replacement with quick visa runs on Monday and vaccinations as required…..let’s hope they make the plane!

Netbooks have been brought and charging them solved, we hope! So, if you’re keen to keep up to date with the group and their adventures then please do tune into the West Sussex Inspire India Blog to find out how they’re getting on.

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!!!!!

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!

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?

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!!

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