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.


What does popcorn and garlic have in common at youth club?

The answer is that they both end up on the floor!!

Last week a couple of young males went into the kitchen took garlic from the cupboard and threw it at their friends (meaning it went all over youth club). It’s surprising how quick a clove of garlic gets EVERYWHERE at youth club!!!

This week (film night) individuals had popcorn, which a different group of young males decided to throw around at each other, causing a mess that took them half an hour to clean!

In order to encourage these members (who are very nice valued members of youth club, they just like throwing food at each other) to take a more responsible approach to being at youth club we have decided to invite them to our planning meeting next term. We are hoping that planning the terms activities with us will encourage their understanding of how the youth club runs, possibly giving them respect of the centre and the activities that go on there. I also hope this will give us as staff the opportunity to  build relationships with them outside of the general youth club activities (as general youth club is quite manic).

Eventually we are hoping to have a ‘take-over’; through consultation we have established that a few members are interested in this already, the take-over would be the young people’s opportunity to completely run the club. For this to work though I think we will need to build organisational relationships with the whole group (around 40-50 people). I would hope we can do this by joining with a different small group of them every term to do the planning, slowly giving the larger group as a whole the responsibility of the club.

If anyone has any similar stories or advice/feedback I’d love to hear it,

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

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 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

Forming a Youth Service Directory (my working placement for university)

Forming a directory is something I have never done before, not only have I never done it but I have also been asked to do it outside of the area that I work. Why? The reason the directory was proposed to me is that staff and young people of the area would benefit from knowing what is out there for young people to access so that it can be used as a form of partnership referral for any needs/wants that young people have.

Who proposed this idea to me? A youth development officer (YDO), who then arranged for a local community education officer (CEO) to supervise me. During my discussion with the YDO I was very clear about the fact that I didn’t want a CEO who would constantly tell me what to do, as this placement was to demonstrate my own management and development skills. When they explained that I would be to contact all the local youth services, clubs and groups I said yes that sounds like something I can do. What I didn’t explain at this stage (and wasn’t aware of myself) was the fact that I have only ever completed one piece of community work previously (a community profile) which I did as part of a group not by myself and on an area I had more knowledge of.

Now that I am in placement I am realising how my previous confidence  in my own ability and determined attitude to do ‘a good job’ in order to get this project done has made me overlook a few key aspects of it.

-The biggest aspect is that I have completely overlooked young people and their community’s view on this directory (as stated in a previous reflection: After some thought I have put posters up in the local youth/community centres in order to encourage participation and introduce the idea of what is going on. As pointed out by blogger this may not be as effective as I’d like. Very easily it could be ignored, misunderstood and overlooked meaning that it isn’t very accessible to people.

The reason behind this lack of youth input into the project is the result of another issue…

-I don’t have enough time, due to work commitments in the evening to go to their youth clubs, streets, community centres and such. I am only in their community during the time they are likely (depending on age) to be in education, training and work. One of the ways I hope to combat this is to ask the youth and community staff to become involved in the project. As much as I dread asking people to do something for me (especially as I have never met them) I will have to try and ask the local staff to introduce people to the project and find out their opinions on it; what they think should go in there, how it should be laid out/accessibly, who should have access to it and so on.

I do worry that when I leave something in someone else’s hands I cannot guarantee the effectiveness of their work, we are different people and we work in different ways. However their way is probably best as they are the local youth and community workers who will be supported by their CEO’s on this (as I am writing to them explaining the project as well).

-The last key aspect of this directory is that it was not initiated by the local community (as far as I am aware) or if it was then not though my own work. The fact that I have started this project with no previous contact with the community is a shame and I wish that I had tried to instigate this contact sooner.

That’s all my blogging for this moment, please feel free to comment and add your opinions/suggestions to further my personal development and hopefully make this project run more smoothly.

Thank you

Had a meeting today…

…and figured that throughout my university placement which is ‘forming a directory for young people’ in three local areas that I have focused on finding all the info myself and doing all the work myself hence not actually asking any young people what they think. What a great ‘youth worker’ I have been!! Not only is it not giving young people an opportunity to suggest local services that they would like to feature in the directory but I’m probably selling myself short of information as it’s their area and not mine -so they may have a much better idea and maybe even some contacts!!

This shall be rectified, posters will go up inviting suggestions for the directory and if there’s interest maybe a focus group…any other suggestions? 🙂

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