Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for the ‘youth’ Category

Positive Young People

I’ve been to two events recently that continue to highlight for me the benefits of universal youth services for young people and their involvement in delivering them.

The first was the wonderful day in London at the Houses of Parliment where young people and organisations were recognised for the effort they had put into the recent youth elections. As readers of this blog will know, in March this year, 20,088 young people voted in countywide elections for the current 48 members of the West Sussex Youth Cabinet and four Youth MPs.

There are three levels of Democracy Award: Bronze (for at least 50 percent voter turnout), Silver (70 percent), and Gold (90 percent). A record-breaking number of awards were given out this year to 23 schools, colleges, special schools, a middle school and youth organisations across West Sussex. Young people from each of the organisations stood up and spoke about how they had run the elections in their area. What struck me was the extent in which they had used social media and networks to get the information out and share with their friends in their areas. Some groups had organised hustings, others voted in specifc classes. A number of innovation awards were also given for use of pictorial election ballots different ways of promoting the elections.

I’ll talk more about the next event in my next post.

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Positive Images, Positive Young People

In the governments recent Positive for Youth discussion paper one of the areas under discussion is the negative perception of young people and what can be done about it.  How can we and young people work together to counteract negative media portrayal?

This is a key aim of  West Sussex Youth Service and West Sussex Council of Voluntary Youth Services  who joined together in partnership at the South of England Show to show young people in a different light. Working with young people we developed a main stand, “Teen Square” where young people showed their wide range of talents, and then a number of differing stands and activities to promote the services available to young people. We feel that this both successfully engaged young people giving them an opportunity to perform and showed the wider public what amazing talent we have here in West Sussex! See what you think!

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 Apps for Charity and Youth Work

I’m intrigued by the possibility of developing apps for working with young people through supporting, advising and educating them in all aspects of personal development. Recently I came across iHobo from Depaul, a youth homelessness charity. The free app is designed to challenge perceptions around homelessness and is the work of charity Depaul UK and advertising agency Publicis London. The Charity  identified that it needs to attract new donors to support it’s work, and promote itself to a younger audience, hence the app. According to Depaul:

“A young homeless person lives on your iPhone for three days. Take care of him, or his life could spiral out of control. You’ll need to be there for him, day and night, providing food, money, warmth and support. He’ll alert you when he gets into trouble or needs your help, and the speed of your response could be the difference between him making it through in one piece, or becoming addicted to drugs. Can you keep him on the straight and narrow?”

I haven’t downloaded the app yet to see it in action however I really like the way in which Depaul have identified where it needs to develop. They’re using a range of social media tools to do this, including youtube and mobile technology. Information available states that the app is designed to make you pay attention, and think about how you can make a difference. It uses Apple’s latest “Push Notification” technology to send alerts to you when iHobo needs help. With live interactive footage it is trying to make this  virtual experience as real as possible. In all sorts of ways it is reaching its target audience through the very medium that they are using daily. How many of us are doing that in our youth work, or childrens services? What sort of things could we do with this if we put our minds to it? Not being technical minded I’m not sure how it all works however I’m sure that there can and will be more public service apps in the future.

iHobo is free to download so why not have a look and give it a try? Let me know your thoughts!

Homophobic Bullying

Get Over ItI was in London yesterday at the Stonewall Education for All conference. I hadn’t realised that it’s the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots from which the organisation takes it’s name. Stonewall was founded in 1989 by a small group of women and men who had been active in the struggle against  Section 28 of the Local Government Act. For those that don’t know, Section 28 was legislation designed to prevent the so-called ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. Ultimately, as well as stigmatising gay people it galvanised the gay community and brought about an organisation to lobby and campaign on equality issues for gay people.

As Sir Ian McKellen says “The legal situation is better now but there is still a hangover from Section 28 in schools. Gay issues are not discussed. Gay kids and teachers feel isolated. That’s why I go to schools — faith, comprehensive and private — to talk. And think about it, more and more of the parents who are sending their children to schools are gay themselves. They are not “pretend” families, as Section 28 called them.” From The Times June 23, 2009

The conference built upon the shocking facts about homophobic bullying presented in the School Report. There are some interesting facts in the Teachers report. What I found interesting regarding the facts about who experiences homophobic bullying outlined below is how much gender stereotyping plays such a large part in the bullying that goes on. Whilst those young people who are openly lesbian, gay or bisexual are being bullied boys, in particular, who aren’t conforming to their gender stereotype are bullied more. I am keen to ensure that we tackle homophobic bullying in our youth centres as part of the LGBT Strategy we are developing and will make sure that we pick up on this when we finalise the draft. I am also interested in these statistics as they appear to point to the need for more work on gender. It made me reflect once more on some of the sessions we run at youth centres which have the potential to conform to these stereotypes (the all womens dance groups, the young mens football sessions, the ‘beauty’ sessions) and how we need to ensure that colleagues are clear as to why they are running single gender sessions. An unexpected outcome from today is that I am now reflecting on what further training and support we may need to give in order to ensure that we are not perpetuating gender stereotypes in our work, how about you?

From the Teachers Report, Stonewall

From the Teachers Report, Stonewall

Celebrating Young Peoples’ Achievements

Last Saturday evening I went to the first Young Peoples’ celebration event for those young people involved with West Sussex Youth Service in Worthing. It was a great evening with over 100 young people coming together to enjoy and celebrate their work, play and involvement. The staff hadn’t anticipated quite such a big turn out (after all it was a Saturday!!!) which meant a last minute shuffle for chairs and finding space for the latecomers. As a ‘first’ it was a great step forward and hopefully next year more young people will be involved in planning and delivering the event now that they’ve got a taste for it. Here’s a brief look – 🙂

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?

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