The weekend before last a group of young carers from West Sussex took part in the 13th Young Carers Festival bringing together young carers from across the country for a weekend packed full of activities at Fairthorne Manor with the support of the YMCA.
This is an annual event and caters for 2000 young carers giving them the opportunity to take a break and spend time with peers, make new friends and share stories. A range of activities from outdoor sports to crafts, discos & bands on the festival stage this is a fun-filled weekend full of activities. Read more about it from young carers themselves.
Young Carers work throughout West Sussex has developed and has become a great partnership between the Young Carers Service which is part of Social Care and the Youth Support and Development Service. Local groups have been set up across the county and now operate on a fortnightly basis giving all young carers the opportunity to take part in activities especially for them. Alongside this we have an active programme of positive activity days which happen during the holidays providing a range of personal development opportunities where young carers learn a range of different skills and increase their self confidence.
A developing aspect of our work is the creation of a group of older Young Carers (16+) who will be setting themselves up as an independent group to represent the voice of Young Carers and look at Services for them. I’ll report later how it goes!!
Quite a mouthful isn’t it!!! For young Careleavers aged 16 or over this is an important participation network that works alongside the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum supported by the National Care Advisory Service.
In West Sussex young people have only recently been involved in the Young Peoples Benchmarking forum (YPBMF)supported through our Children In Care Council Co-ordinator. The young people have gained a significant amount through being involved in this forum, especially meeting other careleavers from around the country and contributing to getting their voice heard.
On Thursday last week West Sussex Youth Support and Development Servivce were priviledged to be able to host a meeting on the south coast (many of the previous meetings have usually been held further North which has involved a considerable amount of travel for those concerned.) The YPBMF is facilitated by Catch 22 and along with a range of staff about 20 young people attended the meeting. Unfortunately Tim Loughton the Childrens Minister was unable to attend however he has recheduled to meet with the group in the New Year.
For me it was great to meet a pro active group of young people who are enthusiastic and positive about making changes to our systems and services in order to improve outcomes for others. Something that really struck me from their conversations was the breadth of disparity between local authority provision for Care Leavers. We often hear talk of the postcode lottery with regards to Health Services however these young people are experiencing this very thing from their Corporate Parents about their own living & educational needs. Although there is guidance concerning Care Leavers there is no clear offer to young people who are leaving care as this is very much defined by the local authority who have overall control of the budgets. This means that it can be very confusing for a young person to know what to expect and who to hold accountable.
The young people spent time looking at the questions that they hope to put to the Minister in the future, especially those to do with their entitlement and needs. Catch 22 staff were excellent at facilitating the session, particularly supporting young people to think about potential responses to their questions and how they could ensure that they got a real answer rather than a politically correct one. This was a great example of facilitating young peoples voice.
Many thanks to Catch 22 and the forum for providing food for thought and I hope that in the future they will be given sufficient time to raise their carefully thought through concerns. I look forward to hearing how they get on!
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 – 🙂
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…)
With wind, rain and snow taking up most of last week it was with some trepidation that I could be seen heading out last Saturday night to help out on the Charlton Chase.
This is an all night navigation exercise (depending on skills!) for young people from across West Sussex which has been run annually by the County Youth Service since 1981.
The support base is at Seaford College (and our thanks to them their continuing help in providing this) and takes place over open country so young people need to be physically fit, able to navigate at night, have a basic knowledge of first aid, hill walking and be able to look after themselves in adverse conditions. The course consists of six main checkpoints at which the teams can gain points for the completion of exercises designed to test their teamwork and initiative. This year, even with the weather we had over 320 young people taking part (!) in eighty teams and over 100 volunteers supporting the event.
A big congratulations and thank you needs to go to colleagues who put a tremendous amount of hard work and effort into this, from the co-ordination and administration of teams, to sourcing volunteers to man checkpoints, to working out where the routes will go, to working on the night. And the main thanks must go to our Duke of Edinburghs Award, Outdoor Education and Accreditation Manager who (amazingly) oversees all bases and keeps it all together in the run up and on the night (in conjunction with the day job!)
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Just a few sights and views of Cobnor Outdoor Activities Centre, a centre based in West Sussex that we work closely with to deliver a range of Outdoor Activities / Outdoor Education for young people of all ages and abilities. I did this through uploading pictures from Flickr across to Animoto and let the magic that is animoto do the rest!