Can youth club combine forces with the internet to create a modern desirable youth service?

The internet… the world in which many of us now live in. People can access the internet from near enough anywhere in the world, young people are growing up in an age where access to the internet is increasing and alongside this is their access to social media, gaming, online study, shopping and a whole host of other things.

Upon reflection of my own experience (I am considered a young person) I can remember back to my Primary School education where we had one computer for the whole school to access which meant that we used it around once a fortnight or possibly even less, this changed during High School when I had I.T lessons at least once a week and a library with constant free computer access. Now in 2012 I feel strange if I cannot access a computer/the internet for one day, everywhere I go there is computer access, my home, my phone (for when I’m on my travels), my family and friend’s homes, university, work, the list goes on…

If I can take an example from one of the youth clubs that I work in, we have 2 computers for people to use with an internet connection speed of around 0.2mbps (only a slight exaggeration). So as you can imagine people don’t come to us to use our internet!! They come for other things such as sport, cooking, arts and crafts and mostly for social, chill out time in a comfortable place. But for every one person who comes to youth club in our area there must be at least another 100 that don’t attend. Are they all hanging out on social networking sites such as facebook? Browsing the internet or playing games on consoles that use the internet to create gaming communities such as the Xbox live?

The reason that I am reflecting about this is that I can see a drop in the number of attendees at youth club which my team and my manager have discussed. My manager believes it is because young people are all on Xbox live and I have come to the conclusion that while we do not ‘compete’ with the internet for young people’s interest the internet is definitely an addictive, exciting place to be! So will we get with the times and become partners with the internet in the way that we work (for example utilising it for it’s benefits and combining this with our work to create a more tailored youth service) or will we soon end up in a history book/online document?

*Note I am aware that some youth services have already utilised the internet in their work with young people and if you would like to share stories of this please do so.

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Reanimate Education

Video

Taking this info directly from the youtube link
‘This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.
For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit: http://www.sirkenrobinson.com’

It refers to American education but can be applied to other industrialised countries educational as well.

Thank You

Where are we going now? 2011 riots research summary

When individuals commit crimes of theft and destruction on a large scale within society our reaction is to aslongside penalising individuals involved also ask why did this happen and how can we provent it from happening again?

And so since the summer riots of 2011 a study has been commissioned to interview individuals from the areas of London affected ‘After the Riots’ the final report of the Riot Communities and Victims Panel has now been published find the link here http://riotspanel.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Riots-Panel-Final-Report.pdf

Below is a summary of the findings of this report…please feel free to comment and add to this yourselves.

The report calls for

opportunities for all (including the young), people to respect where they live and each other, people to feel they have a stake within society, greater inter-partnership of voluntary and statutory services working for individuals in society who are struggling, police and public law to uphold the law and order, a penalising and reformative criminal justice system within all communities.

After the Riots states that there are different reasons why people may commit crimes and anti-social/anti-community behaviour and highlight 6 key areas that would build economic and social resilience within our communities.

  1. Children and Parents :- many communities involved in the research believed they rioting was a result of poor parenting. Therefore the report states that there is a need to make sure children are getting support, guidance and control from their families. The report continues to talk about the government ‘Troubled Families Programme which is believed (in a poll of 80 local authorities) to overlap with rioters families by 5%. There are key principles outlined for services that work with families; early intervention,  evidence based support for the communities to access, planning for families and not just individuals, to share data across agencies working with families to save time, an advocate for children who need to reach their potential as opposed to looking at their deficits, giving children positive role models within families or communities (including contacting absent fathers about there children).
  2. Building Personal Resilience :- many young people expressed hopelessness to the panel, the panels suggests that families are to instil character into young people including self discipline, application and the ablility to deal with set backs. Where families cannot do this children’s and young people’s services are responsible for this. Also there is also a need for schools to develop their policies on building character, testing their pupils on their character development.
  3. Hope and Dreams :- record youth unemployment among other things were mentioned in regards to young people’s lack of hopes and dreams. In a survey 43% f people thought that schools prepared people for work, there was also an accusation that schools exclude and transfer students for the wrong reasons.  A fifth of school leavers have literacy skills of or below that of an 11 year old, there is a recommendation that schools which fail to provide people with the appropriate literacy skills should pay the cost of raising their attainment via the new provider. There are also recommendations that schools to more to stop truancy and to only exclude as a last resort, there should also be inspection into transfers to ensure a transferred student has not lost any quality in their education. The report states that there is a need for a careers support quality guarantee for all pupils expressing what a child can expect in terms of guidance and support. Businesses should be an ambassador for schools.  Core NEETs (those out of education, employment or training for a year) should have a job promise form the government and a job guarantee for those NEET for two years.
  4. Riots and the Brands :- a majority of shops targeted stocked high value goods, the panel asks businesses to adopt CSR (corporate social responsibility) including apprenticeships and work opportunities. The panel asks the government to support businesses to give something back to the communities such as offering shareholder participation to shorten the growing capitalist wealth gap. In order to address concerns that pressure is put on young people through advertisement the panel writes that the Advertising Standards Authority include materialism into their engagement with young people to build their resilience to it.
  5. Usual Suspects :- the need for early intervention with offenders such as Triage, improving resources for offenders and effective punishment and rehabilitation of offenders is suggested by the panel. Alongside suggestions for community projects for offenders including unpaid work, there is also a need for inter-partnership working and mentoring for each offender.  Due to negative images of police services integrity within communities the panel states that police engage with the communities they work within to tackle negative perceptions, including improving the treatment of individuals on minor occasions by the police.
  6. Community Engagement, Involvement and Cohesion :-  there needs to develop community engagement and communication capabilities as the report found that community members felt they could not interfere with other’s lives but also felt their is a need for communities to help develop families and households. The use of community members within community projects is vital the report found as people will react more effectively with their ‘peers’ than their ‘officials’. The report suggests that volunteering be at the heart of community development.

TEDxObserver-Plan B telling Britain about it’s young people

Video

Please watch this if you haven’t seen it Ben Drew (Plan B) makes some very bold points about how we could all be more community minded, this is empowering stuff and I wish him all the luck he needs to make his project a success!

Thank You

Children eating, cooking and creating their own future? That’s right we don’t always have to do it for them!

The BBC News has reported on two studies which show that cookery classes encourage pupils to recognise and become more accustomed to ‘healthy’ foods resulting in a desire to eat more fruit and vegetables. Cooking isn’t just a fun, social activity it’s a skill which can be used again and again, making it a very productive form of education. Within this article a survey of 2,500 participants of the ‘Let’s get cooking’ project showed that 92% of them used their learnt skills at home.

Read the full article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16854572

How can this be related to our current climate?

Cooking is a great way to educate children, young people and even adults on what food choices they have available, where to get them, how much they cost, what exactly they can do with them and how to use ingredients. Young people at the centre where I work love to cook, however we don’t just run cooking sessions due to the recession and budget cuts we tend to run ‘cooking on a budget’ sessions. Where we make wholesome meals (and sometimes desserts) which cost less than £5.00 for a group of people (on average I’d say around 10 people but it depends on what we cook)! So far we’ve made wonderful rice, potato and pasta dishes as well as experimenting with pancakes, chocolate, honeycomb and porridge (not all at the same time I might add!) The young people who participate are now experts at flavouring rice dishes, in love with porridge and can make their own oven chips from scratch, this week we plan to be making chicken burgers which I hope will go well (even if a session doesn’t go a 100% to plan it’s still a learning experience which can be built on).

If no-one in the group has experience of cooking a particular dish we use this website http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/. If anyone can suggest any other sites please comment below, and especially mention it if you know a recipe which will cost less than £5.00 to feed a group (we’re always on the look out for new things to try).

Thank you

Mentor Training Reflection

This is a reflection on my practice as a youth worker and training on ‘mentoring young people’.

I had signed myself up for the training because I had an interest in possibly being a mentor sometime in the future.
The training included a variety of activities/group resources which were designed to help us both understand being a mentor and to give us ideas of what we can do to get to know our mentees. We spoke about a range of things such as who we think our own mentors/role models in life are and why we think they are mentors (what sets them apart from everyone else we have known)? What skills mentors may need and defining a mentor role among other professional roles such as counsellors? Then we focused on the mentoring relationship, personal values, acceptable behaviour and boundaries.

This last section of the training was very interesting for myself; relationships, values, behaviour and boundaries. First and foremost I learnt that I would have to work very hard if I were ever to become a mentor because of my personal values.
Here are some of the reasons I felt I clashed with the role of being a mentor:
-As a youth worker I ultimately want to encourage people to be free from oppression and this was a very key theme that I expressed in the ‘values’ part of the training. Due to this I believe I would find it hard to say ‘no’ to people which mentors seem to have to understand when it is appropriate to do. I felt that mentors while working within a partnership framework with young people also needed to retain the fact that they have power in situations.
-During the boundaries exercise I found that I didn’t want to give people any boundaries instead I wanted to encouarge them to explore and create their own boundaries from experience, of course I would advise them on what I thought was best but not ‘impose’ rules on to them-mentors seem to need to do this as they are working one-to-one on a short time scale with agreed objectives.
-Time was another reason I wouldn’t like to do mentoring, I like working with people too much and wouldn’t feel right to end a relationship with a young person myself. Within mentoring this is a key element of work, there is always a time scale attached to a relationship. I do prefer working in a youth centre where I do not have too choose when a relationship ends -the young people do when they stop coming.

All of the above values/preferences to working can affect every job in which you work with people even my current role as a youth support worker however, now that I am aware that I feel this way I will choose future jobs carefully. I think the most important things about this training experience for me was to think about my own values -I believe once we are aware of them we can control their expression/suppression within our work to fit the job role.

One of the of ways I realised this was to ask myself why do I choose to occupy the job that I do?

What do I want people to get out of it? ~freedom~expression~creativity~confidence~experience~the ability to place themselves within their surroundings and feel contentment.

Why do I want people to gain these things? Because I have felt oppression, lacked confidence, not experienced things and needed guidance to experiment, express and understand myself…perhaps.

We never work with people 100% selflessly we do always get something out of it. I have cried for a week on and off after the experiences I have had with young people on Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions-because I felt an emotional involvement with their journey, because I helped them, because I felt proud of them and because I felt proud of myself for choosing to participate in such a (in my opinion) ‘worthwhile’ form of exploration. Some practitioners may believe my emotional involvement to be unethical or inappropriate, although I do not believe it is ‘wrong’ myself I do think it’s an important part of my work that I can recognise my emotional involvement so that I can contain it when needed.

 

Critique/comments welcomed…Thank you

The art of conversation

Many writers will state that conversation is the key factor of youth/community work (Batsleer, 2008; Jeffs and Smith, 2005; Young, 1999).

Paulo Freire claims that conversation/communication and experimentation are at the heart of an individuals learning (Freire, 2010).

So then what is the key to conversation? How do we maximise the amount we learn from each other? My suggestion today is by asking as little questions as possible!

Yes it’s true, during recent Child Protection training we were told to wait and converse at an individuals pace and to not ask questions. Instead using simple acknowledging words or sounds lets the other person know you are listening. Questions guide conversations, for example when you ask how someone’s day went they will begin to tell you, if you then ask them what they plan tomorrow they will then begin to let you know this…however, maybe if you left a pause at the end of their first answer they would have thought of more about that topic and continued speaking -leading the conversation more naturally.

Although to some people this suggestion may seem natural and to others it may seem alien, all of us should reflect on our conversion skills and improve them. Through conversation we make realisations, through reflections we develop and through communication we share information. As an informal educator and a reflective practitioner it is my job to ensure that I encourage expression in others, I hope this will help me in doing so.

Thank you