Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for the ‘targeted youth support’ Category

LGBTQ Young Peoples’ Survey Live

 Working with young people who identify as LGBT is an area of our work that has continued throughout  all the turmoil and change over the past 18months. This is an area that is set to grow however in order to do this we need to continue to identify what their needs are and how best we can address them.

As we all know, being a young person growing up has its own challenges however this can be even more so when  when you’re lesbian, gay,bisexual, trans or questioning your sexuality and/or gender identity (LGBTQ) – or at least that’s what everyone says.

The reality is, however that there’s very little robust data currently available on LGBTQ people in the UK in general, even less so on young people in particular. According to recent reports:-

  • An alarming 65% of 16-25year old LGB people have experienced homophobic bullying at school in England.
  • The rate of attempted suicide is twice as high among the LGB population as the national average
  • In the US at least, LGB record significantly higher drug andalcohol use.

This evidence suggests that there are tangible issues here and that they have a very serious impact on all aspects of young people’s lives and outcomes. The data,however, is still missing and the response from services – therefore unclear.

So –   the question a ground-breaking new study is attempting to answer by surveying 15,000 16-25 year old LGBT people across the country is how hard is it really and what are  the specific challenges that make it so?  Youth Chances – a social research project led by the Metro in partnership with the University of Greenwich and Ergo Consulting, and funded by the BigLottery, is inviting 16-25 year olds from across England to share their story by completing the survey – here are some of them, speaking out about Youth Chances andhow it will make a difference to their lives.

The evidence collected will help to inform and influence the work of service providers and commissioners all over England and help them identify how their policies can be improved to address the real concerns of young LGBT people today.  So, if you’re working with young people, especially those who may identify as LGBTQ then please, please, encourage them to fill in the survey!

    
 

Cuts in Youth Services

I have just read Jon Jollys post about the ongoing cuts to the services here in West Sussex.

As he rightly points out, it is a challenging and difficult time for all practitioners and managers within the service. The YSDS has already been reduced by £2m and we are now being asked to reduce the service by another £2m by March 2012. The service is currently consulting with residents & young people about these cuts and this closes on the 14th October with the select committee scheduled for the 4th November. Young people from the youth cabinet are meeting with the Cabinet Member and Director of Childrens Services to discuss these changes and input their views and thoughts about the future of the service.

Whilst this is happening we are also trying to bed in the new service which has seen significant changes in the way we are delivering and who is delivering our services. There has been a big upheaval for staff with many (including myself) being asked to change roles and operational areas. Staff are also uncertain of their future and are also being asked to deliver services in new and different ways. They are all working incredibly hard to deliver the best services for young people through these constant changes. Jon mentions the lack of communication and consultation with the community and young people over changes to the night a club opens and the staff delivering it. I agree that this should be the way we are working but have to put my hand up and admit that at the moment the fact that some of the clubs are open at all given the numbers of staff we have is a feat in itself. I oversee a different area of the county and know that I have been involved in making decisions about when we can open a club and who will staff it in isolation to the community and young people. This is partly down to the fact that with the need to further reduce the service is not recruiting new staff, any vacancies are managed internally which impacts again on the number of staff we have available so we are incredibly stretched.

Staff are also feeling devalued as their profession and years of training appear to count for nothing alongside a government agenda that believes volunteers can replace them.  With staff stretched to deliver our own targeted and prevention services there is less time to support the voluntary sector as we used to at the very time they need that support to deliver universal services.. They (and communities I talk to) continue to be frustrated by this.

So where are we headed? Personally I am currently reviewing the services I am responsible for with the teams I manage whilst also making every effort to talk to the local communities and involve them in the decisions we have to make. In little over a month we should have a clearer steer on the way ahead which will need more planning and organising.

On a national level at a time of increasing youth unemployment, unrest and lack of opportunity the very services that could support young people are being decimated. It seems obvious to me (and many others across the country in similar positions) that these cuts are happening too rapidly and are unsustainable, by the time the government realises this will there be anything left to rebuild from?

Targeted Youth Support in West Sussex

As mentioned in my previous post we have restructured the Youth Support and Development Service (YSDS) to deliver primarily across Targeted Youth Support (TYS), Specialist Services and Early Intervention & Prevention whilst working to support other organisations to deliver more universal, generic youth work.

This week has seen the launch of our Targeted Youth Support pages on our Website and the start of TYS programmes across the county. With a new request for service process, forms and monitoring & evaluation this is a huge change of our service. After 3 days of key training for staff we have a rolling programme throughout the Autumn term to bring everyone up to date with the programmes on offer. Time will tell concerning the response to the programmes although we have already had a good uptake by many services.

In the meantime we are out to consultation concerning the future of the YSDS with another £2 million reductions due to be made in the next year! All in all changing and testing times for all!

 

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!

Digital Media in the Youth Work Curriculum

Courtesy of Mosman Library

I am currently looking at the programmes that we will be delivering and developing for the Targeted Youth Support part of our new service. In doing this I have been reflecting on how we ensure that we embraceDigital & Social Media and make sure that they are an inclusive part of what we are doing.

For instance when we are looking at risk taking behaviour, are we making sure that we include online risk? When delivering courses on Independent Living do we include advice and information about identity on line, online gaming, healthy lifestyles and the impact of social media as well as other areas of digital media. Do we support young people in how they can use the internet to find information and check whether this information is correct? What digital literacy are we including in our programmes?

These reflections have been prompted by a number of people and reports, that I have recently heard or read. For example:-

In Munch, Poke, Ping  Stephen Carrick-Davies considers the risks which vulnerable young people, excluded from schools and being taught in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), encounter online and through their mobile phones.

Sangeet Bhullar  is the Founder and Executive Director of WISE KIDS, a non-profit organisation providing innovative training programmes and consultancy in New Media, Internet and Mobile Technologies, Internet Proficiency, Literacy and Safety. A key aspect of their work is founded on the belief that individuals and communities need the knowledge, skills and tools to understand and harness the power of the Internet and Mobile technologies.

Risks and Safety for Children on the internet: the UK Report by Sonia Livingstone, Leslie Haddon, Anke Görzig and Kjartan Ólafsson presents initial findings from a UK survey of children and their parents designed to provide a unique insight into the balance of opportunities and risks experienced by UK children on the internet

Reading these articles and browsing other articles on line have made me wonder how we start to ensure a systemic approach to ensuring that young people, particularly those not in school settings, gain the skills to make informed choices around their use of the internet.

I’d be keen to know if you’re doing anything around this and how you are making sure that digital literacy gets covered in informal education.

Changes at West Sussex Youth Service

Well, it’s good to be back after not having sufficient time and energy to blog for quite some time. A lot has happened in the last 6 months, I was successful in reapplying for my post at the end of last year, (phew!) and then finished off my Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership, submitting at the beginning of the month and just hearing I’ve passed (phew again!). I’m now hoping that the time I spent on those areas can now be redirected into writing this blog again.

So to update….after last years work on reducing the size of the youth service we have now been re branded the West Sussex Youth and Development Service (YSDS). From January through to March we were busy interviewing and reorganising staff teams to deliver the new service.The Service is now based on 3 geographic areas, Northern, Western and Coastal.

Our Service Model has four areas:

1 We have now moved from delivering universal generic youth services across the county (the one night a week youth club type scenario) to mainly delivering these in the areas of most need. We haven’t completely stopped work in this area though as we are working to support the voluntary sector to take up the delivery of universal services with local communities setting themselves up to deliver youth clubs in their area aka The Big Society!

2 We will focus on Early Intervention and Prevention. This is the delivery of open access, universal type services aimed at young people who live in areas of deprivation and groups of young people who experience societal disadvantage (young people with disabilities, who identify as LGBT, who may have a disability, who are looked after, NEET, young carers etc) Our Information Shops fall into this category although they also cross over into our Targeted Work.

3 The bulk of our service will be Targeted Youth Services (TYS). These will tend to be groupwork programmes targeted at the young people most in need of our services. They will be requested by either the young people themselves, parents, carers, teachers, schools – anyone as long as they fill in a form. Programmes will focus on addressing issues such as Self Esteem, Anger management, Risk Taking, Consequential Thinking etc, be outcome and impact led and be delivered through a variety of methods (arts, outdoor education etc). This will also include the individual work delivered through our Intensive Personal Advisors who will continue to deliver one to one work with young people who have multiple issues.

4 Specialist Services – This is where most of our youth offending work is delivered and is where we  have statutory duties. (Court Ordered work, careers support for LDD young people)

Developing the New World!

It always felt as though there wasn’t enough time in the day to do the day job and now the day job has increased and developed. The pressure is still on to restructure services and reduce costs within the financial year.

It is an interesting and challenging time to be managing staff as there are so many uncertainties and concerns which all take time to process.
Voluntary redundancy (VR) interviews have been had and the VR window has now closed. Staff are now waiting the news as to whether they have been successful in their applications and what that means for those who have decided to remain. Will they have to go through a selection process for the new positions or have sufficient people opted for VR from their ‘ringfence’?

We are also heavily engaged in developing the new look service. With Take Over day the week before last it was a great time to talk to young people about their concerns and involvement in the new service. Take a look at how we did this on our Yourspace Website

Tag Cloud