Youth Work Week 2019 blog: Safe and confident in their future

Youth Work Week 2019 blog: Safe and confident in their future

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 Shelly Burrell is a Youth Work Team Leader at Sheffield Futures. As part of Shelly’s role, she leads the delivery of Youth Sheffield, Sheffield’s city wide youth service. Youth Sheffield provides safe spaces where young people can feel comfortable and confident and take part in enriching activities, keeping them safe and supported to make the most of their lives. For today’s #YWW19 theme, Shelly talks about how Sheffield Futures works to ensure young people in Sheffield feel ‘safe and confident in their future’.

Young people have the right to feel safe and confident in their future. Young people face many challenges and navigating their way through the teenage years can be difficult.

In today’s world, young people face intense pressure to perform at school, to conform in terms of self-identity, sexual identity, relationships and friendships. And on top of this, in recent times, young people have been exposed and left vulnerable to exploitation, intent on exploiting this period of instability in young people’s lives for their own financial gain.

Young people that are at risk of or are being exploited are given a false sense of direction and belonging, and exposed to danger that can tragically result in the loss of life through knife crime and other serious violence.

Tragically, child sexual exploitation is also a prevalent issue affecting the safety of our young people, where again, criminals are taking advantage of young people sexually who may be looking for friendship, direction or support.

Young people have the right to feel safe and to be protected from exploitation and at Sheffield Futures we strive to ensure this.

Young people are passionate about their future but are unsurprisingly anxious about what may lie ahead. More and more young people struggle with their mental health, with a huge increase in young people presenting with low mood, anxiety and depression. These issues, if left alone can result in the development of serious mental health issues. If we see young people presenting with these issues we can offer them support through our emotional health and wellbeing service Door 43 and other specialist services

With the changes in the PSHE curriculum, schools often don’t have enough time to teach many much needed life skills. Therefore youth work and youth work settings are one of the places were young develop life skills that equip them for adult life.

Youth workers build relationships with young people and offer a confidential safe space for them to access, where they will not be judged irrespective of race, sexual identify, gender, culture or beliefs.

A good way to think about our youth clubs is that they are a gateway for support. If we cannot offer the right support directly in our clubs and we identify a need, we will enable young people to access the specialist support we have on offer at Sheffield Futures and through our network of partners. For example, help with substance mis-use, sexual health, one to one support to get young people back on track, support to give young people a voice and emotional and wellbeing support.

As part of our enrichment activities and curriculum in the youth clubs, we deliver sessions that are young people led, addressing issues that matter to them and their futures such as knife crime, domestic violence, exploitation, relationships, cyber bullying, sexual health and mental health.

Informal learning in youth club settings encourages young people to be resilient, confident and to make better choices, which in turn makes them more safe and confident in their future.

Young people also get involved in the Sheffield Futures Young People’s Independent Advisory Group for South Yorkshire Police, where young people provide support to the police to help them shape their service on issues such as stop and search and retailers illegally selling to underage young people.

We hope that by offering Sheffield’s young people a safe space and surrounding them with enriching activities and a network of support, we can enable young people to feel safe, confident and able to go on and lead positive, fulfilled lives.

If you or a young person you know is experiencing any of the issues mentioned here and would benefit from support please reach out to Sheffield Futures. Tel 0114 2012800 or enquiries@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

Find out more about your community youth club here.

How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.