Sunday, 30 August 2015

Confidence boost

NATIONAL Youth Work Week, co-ordinated by the National Youth Agency, has been allowing youth organisations, youth workers and young people engaged in youth work the chance to celebrate their achievements and impact.

DEVELOPING SKILLS: Shania Hunt, left, and Stella Benson, doing one of the activities CHRIS WARNER REF: 50040744B003

 This year’s theme has been ‘connecting cultures’, and it gave The Cumbria Youth Work Consortium the opportunity to shine. The partnership of 34 youth work providers, led by Inspira, delivers the youth work contracts in Cumbria. In Barrow and Furness the other partners are Cumbria Drug and Alcohol Service, Cumbria Personal Development Association, Furness Carers, Furness Multicultural Community Forum, Leonard Cheshire Disability, NACRO, Brathay and Cumbria Youth Alliance.

Youth work takes place after school, and at weekends, with 11 to 19-year-olds, and up to 25 for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

Youth work is needs led, with some of the work targeted to specific groups of young people, while other work is universal. It helps young people learn about themselves, others and society through activities that combine, challenge, learning and achievement.

It is a developmental process that starts in places and at times young people are ready to engage, learn and make use of it.

It offers young people safe spaces to explore their identity, experience decision making, increase their confidence, develop their interpersonal skills and think through the consequences of their actions. This leads to better informed choices, changes in activity and improved outcomes for young people.

As she walks through Walney School young people stop to say hello and chat to Karen Glover.

She is a youth worker with Inspira, a social enterprise company which aims to support and empower people and communities to achieve their goals.

Mrs Glover runs an after school drop-in session and activity group at the secondary school, as well as other youth clubs and events in Furness.

She leads the club at Walney School with Catrina Cairns, of Inspira, who also hosts a lunch time drop in session there.

The club helps the young people build their confidence. The group of 12 to 14-year-olds get involved in various ball games, which all have a numerical task linked to them in a fun way.

Role play is a popular activity among the group. They are given scenarios of issues which may arise in teenage life and then they act out their interpretations of the situations and the solutions. Mrs Glover explains this is a way of the teenagers discussing issues in a less formal manner and taking the lead.

The group also chat about their week, and events in and out of school.

Stella Benson, 14, of Year 10, who attends the club said: “I like coming here after school because it’s fun and you make new friends. I like the acting and the games. I feel more confident. I would not normally talk to people I didn’t know, and I’ve made new friends through this.”

Later in the evening Mrs Glover attended the Nacro Youth Cafe, at Burlington House, in Barrow, to work with more teenagers and in partnership with multi-agencies.There she engages with more young people who are taking part in a pool competition and again using numeracy skills.They are also engaged by watching magician Adam Hudson who blends maths with his trickery.

Asked about youth work, Mrs Glover said: “We are helping to draw out skills and develop the abilities the young people already have, but in a fun way. We try to structure the sessions a little bit, but not too much.

“I’ve worked in Barrow for 10 years and I see people who are now in their early 20s that I worked with, and I see the progression they have made. With some of those young people they may have really struggled at the key points.”


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