Youth Work Week 2019 Blog: Active members of their communities and society

Youth Work Week 2019 Blog: Active members of their communities and society

Sadie White No Comment

Gail Gibbons is the CEO at Sheffield Futures, leading the charity to deliver initiatives that support young people including 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, Gail talks about how Sheffield Futures works to encourage young people in Sheffield to be active members of their communities and society.

We strongly believe that all young people have the potential to play a positive and active role in their communities and wider society; and that it is critical that young people are provided with opportunities and supported to do just that. Youth work and the youth work delivery model provides the perfect platform for enabling young people to make a positive contribution to their communities. As well as building confidence, active citizenship through youth work enables young people to demonstrate their capacity to make a difference and to develop soft skills sought by employers. It also enables young people to see the world from others’ perspectives and to develop a broader and deeper understanding of our wider society.

Active citizenship includes young people taking part in formal decision making in local areas. For example, Sheffield Futures co-ordinates the bi-annual national Mark Your Mark Campaign for Sheffield – encouraging as many young people as possible from schools, colleges, youth clubs and organisations to vote for the issues most important to them. The issues gaining the most votes are then taken forward by young people through local and national campaigns and debated by UK Youth Parliament members in Westminster. Our elected Youth Cabinet represents young people across Sheffield, and takes forward issues important to young people on their behalf – making a real difference to how services are delivered in our city. At local level, youth voice is an important part of our youth clubs – where young people are consulted on our youth work curriculum so that it really meets their needs.

Each year hundreds of young people we work with are involved in volunteering and social action projects – giving back to their local communities. Sheffield Futures is a member of the national #iwill campaign – with young people leading on a wide range of social action initiatives. These have ranged from the Woodthorpe Youth Club Social Action Project – which has recently been nominated for a local Community Award; to young people taking part in the annual Keep Britain Tidy litter pick initiative; and involvement with a local youth organisation partnership to raise awareness around issues relating to young people and health.

Our young people have also been involved this year in a number of projects aimed at educating their peers, and supporting the development of local statutory services to enable them to be more relevant and responsive to young people. For example, as part of a Home Office funded Early Intervention Fund programme, Sheffield Futures has trained up a group of young people to act as peer mentors – working with young people in schools to raise awareness about the risks of knife crime and child criminal exploitation. We are also supporting South Yorkshire Police to set up a South Yorkshire Young People’s Independent Advisory Board; and our Young Advisors are supporting the Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board to improve their practices.

Our young people have taken part in a wide range of festivals and events this year – raising awareness of issues which matter to them; and providing suggested solutions to some of the most challenging issues in society today. For example, our young people have led an event as part of the Festival of Debate; have taken part in the Migration Matters Festival; have been involved in Off the Shelf festival; and have an important role in the city’s Age Hub work. One of our Young Advisors also spoke at the recent Northern Powerhouse Conference about young people, work and skills.

If you or a young person you know would benefit from getting involved in any of the initiatives mentioned here and would benefit from support please reach out to Sheffield Futures. Tel 0114 2012800 or [email protected]

Find out more about your community youth club here


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