Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Posts tagged ‘youth’

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.

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!

 

Youth e-panel and QR Codes

The Youth Participation Team here in West Sussex has continued to look at how we can maximise Social Media. To this end we are researching whether using Quick Response (QR) codes encourages young people to sign up and get involved in our youth e-panels.

West Sussex Youth Support and Development Service (YSDS)  recently worked with the voluntary sector publicising youth services at the South of England Show . They had a very good response and you can see Prince Edward chatting to a group of the young people here.

We seem to be getting a good response to the codes and are currently exploring how else we might use these to publicise our services. I was wondering if anyone else out there had any experience of using QR Codes or suggestions / thoughts on how else we might maximise this sort of technology?

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

China Update – 2

Wow! We’ve just had a great weekend at Cobnor Outdoor Actvities Centre with the group of young people heading to China. It was a pretty packed weekend with lots of laughs, and serious discussions. We started off getting to know each other and working out how we wanted to work and live together both on the weekend and while away. It was a busy Friday evening as everyone chatted, learnt how to use the cameras, had the opportunity to diary their early thoughts about the project and chill out playing some old favorites.

It’s been some time since I’ve worked directly with a group so I was a bit nervous and wondered if I could still do it.  It didn’t take long to ‘warm up’ and soon we were all getting that buzz of working together, discovering new people, their hopes, interests and passions!

Saturday morning saw us out in the rain canoeing and climbing (well, I canoed but didnt climb as I had to prepare for the next session). It was an early start and the damp seeped through the skin as we paddled up towards the end of the spit. Most of the group I was with had paddled before so it was a good chance to mix, altough a couple of young people did spend some time going round in circles. Throughout the weekend we’ve been experimenting with a FLIP camera and, having got all our consents, here is a bit of a taster of what the weekend was like!

Saturday afternoon saw us all playing pictionary (!) with a twist of course! The game was fast and furious and was a great opportunity to start raising the question of stereotypes and assumptions (and how these were developed) as ‘old’ was pictured most consistently as an elderly person with a cane and glasses, ‘disabled’ through an individual in a wheelchair, and French with the eiffel tower. It was interesting to see how difficult it was for the group to draw a picture of somewhere they had never heard of, in this instance Bhutan. This was our start of exploring Culture and Identity.

With a chance to explore the papers to see how both China and great Britain were being portrayed headlines abounded and promoted an interesting discussion about where we got our information from about what was happening in the world and how the papers influcences our thoughts. As you can see, with the evening rapidly approaching we got ready to go out for a chinese meal, I know, it’s not the same as in China but the main objective was to encourage the group to use chopsticks and also to try food that they hadn’t tried before. There were a lot of new taste experiences!!!!!

Unfortunately I had to leave later that evening. The group were brilliant and worked really hard as well as having a lot of fun. I’m keen to get an update to see how everyone got on with raft building and putting together a youth opportunity fund bid. I’m sure we’ll have more news to follow soon…..

Some interesting links (or so I think)

Map of Online Communities by D'Arcy Norman

Map of Online Communities by D'Arcy Norman

On a couple of blogs I’ve seen a round up of sites and whilst I’ve been doodling around the net I’ve bumped into a few that I thought I would share in a quick hit whilst they are in my head (and high up on my delicious site!)

I found this through Flickr put together by D’Arcy Norman I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with the site, here at TouchGraph but it sure looks pretty! A bit like the Digg Labs Swarm

Youth Participation / Online Civic Engagement

Have a look here at Building Democracy where there is a new fund to support innovative ways to increase participation. With a forum to float ideas there are some interesting ideas and there must be some more youth ones we can develop.

There is also some interesting research and information about youth engagement at Engaged Youth

Well, that’s my first few…..more to come soon!

Communities in control, real people, real power!

Communities in controlFor those of you who haven’t picked it up yet Hazel Blears is blogging this week here on Communities and Local Government.  An interesting exercise where she is looking for information and feedback on the Communities in Control, real people, real power (white paper).

I’ve been very interested to see the white paper and in particular to note what has been written concerning young people. There is an element that I am confused by in the statement in 4.19 where it states that

“The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has provided discrete funding for young people to control – the Youth Opportunity Fund and the Youth Capital Fund. These funds will enable local authorities to develop new approaches to strategic investment in youth activities and facilities, particularly in deprived areas.”

As a local authority managing the YOF & YCF we have worked extremely hard to ensure that the funding has gone to grassroots level and engages with as many young people as possible. To this extent we have 24 young people led forums which are true to the nature of the fund where young people have the responsibility for bidding into and allocating such funding. What I am confused by is the second part of the statement concerning the use of such funds to strategically invest in youth activities and facilities? This leads to some interesting conversations concerning who has control of such funding and how we involve young people in making decisions that are truely theirs or token only? Or indeed how do we influence and encourage them to make strategic decisions? It just leads me to wonder whether there is a true and clear understanding of how these funds are managed across the country.

I was also interested in the section about Empowering Young People . It (more…)

More news from China

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.

greatwall (10)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!

Social Media Training

Well, we’ve finally managed to get organised and have now booked in some social media training for July. I’m really excited by this as I’m hoping that this will be the kick start to a number of ideas, primarily getting our strategy together as to how, what and where we’re going to try and use social media professionally. I think it’ll be an interesting time as we are hoping to include a number of young people to train alongside us so that we can gain a better perspective and all be starting (ish) from the same (ish) point.

I’m intrigued by the dialogue that Mike Amos-Simpson over at the Late Breakfast Society Blog initiated with regards to how youth work might look on line (a very simplified abreviation of his post) and Tim Davies reply on  the Youth Work and Social Networking Research Project blog.   Soppa comments on an earlier post that a group in Finland have set up a Youth House (similar to a youth centre) on Habbo but as their site is all in Finnish I am awaiting some more information on that. We’ve also started to look at how we might have a ‘Virtual Connexions Centre’ and I hope that we will be able to look at all these areas through our Social Media strategy discussions.

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