I was at a meeting of the South East Youth Partnership (SEYP) International Committee up at the British Council Offices in London on Monday. The Committee comprises representatives from local authorities and the voluntary sector from across the South East Region. Our remit is to promote and support International Youth Work, with a particular focus on the youth in action programme funded through the European Commission.
As the committee started to plan ahead and look at International youth work strategically across the region it became obvious that we were trying to do this against a background of disquiet and uncertainty. With reductions in services happening across the South East most people were unsure whether they were going to actually be in post in October (the date we were planning a promotional and getting started event). Some services are in the middle of restructuring, others were going through their second or third round and yet others had not yet started.
We had a long discussion to decide what sort of an event we should put on, whether we should hold one at all and who to aim it at. In discussion it was clear that there was definitely no one shape fits all in terms of services. In West Sussex we are in the midst of restructuring to form an Integrated Youth Support and Development Service, incorporating the Youth Offending Service, the Youth Service and Connexions although who will actually deliver the services is still to be decided. In other areas there is no youth service with youth workers being in integrated teams managed through Children Services Managers.
It was felt that International Youth Work is starting to be seen as the ‘icing on the cake’ and a ‘nice to have’ so there was incertainty over how ‘managers’ may perceive the benefits of releasing staff to attend a training day on accessing funds in this way. However after much debate we decided that we should go ahead with a promotional / training event. With many grants ending in March 2011 (in particular the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Fund) the Youth In Action funding could be used as a means to support some of the work that was previously covered through the YOF funding. In particular the Youth Initiative part of the programme could be helpful as you don’t even need to go abroad to apply for and gain the funding. The event will be targeted predominantly at practioners.
So – the event is going to go ahead and I will post more details as it gets organised. In the meantime it is worth reflecting on the support that many colleagues need in this period of uncertainty……where Change is the only certainty!
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.
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
This 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…)
Since I last posted about China here all had been very quiet so I was beginning to worry about how much off the cuff we were going to end up having to work. We have almost got the group of young people together, all aged between 16-19yrs with an interest in youth participation, and truely representative of the county which is great.
At the end of last week I finally heard from the Shandong Youth Federation and namely the Youngsters Centre of Shandong Province. They have sent through an outline programme so now it is a case of trying not to get too bogged down in Risk Assessments but still ensuring that we have everything covered. (As well as trying to work out how we can / will use social media to support this!)
One of the key difficulties is in trying to understand what is being said in the communications. For instance at the moment the Chinese are keen for us to come earlier in October than we have suggested as it the “Picking Festival of fruits and vegetables” in the place they are suggesting we can stay. The description of the location sounds like a cross between an outdoor centre and an agricultural college….at least that’s how I’ve interpreted it so far. Then there are a lot of cultural visits suggested however I know that when we visited one of the most interesting parts was the discussions and interactions with people, especially young people at the universities and the technical college we went to. So – I need to work out how to politely suggest a bit of an alteration to the programme without being rude and also find out more about the Picking Festival!
Still – how exciting that it is all looking like it might happen….two years in the making but I think we will be able to do some really great youth work with the preparation for the visit, the visit itself and then hopefully hosting a return group next year!