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Bridging the Gap: Improving Communication Between Young People and the Police

Tash Bright No Comments

Sheffield Futures hosted a Festival of Debate event to discuss Bridging the Gap, improving communication between the police and young people in our city. The event looked at how can the police better communicate with young people, why wouldn’t a young person report a crime and what can be done to change that?

Following on from Sheffield Youth Cabinet’s knife crime consultations with young people, we wanted to start a discussion to see how we can work together for a better, safer Sheffield.

The group looked at community policing and how stronger links could be made between the police and young people. Feedback stated that “police should be aware of people’s mental health” and that when appropriate, “police should laugh with young people.”

The group felt that recruiting younger PCSOs would be beneficial and there should be a police presence in areas where it is lacking.

The group also discussed what areas are best to engage with young people and the wider community, what would work best for young people, that may not work for the wider community and whether communications needed to be improved with the whole community and not just young people.

They also looked at whether in a time of cuts, what alternatives might there be to improve police presence, including Neighbourhood Watch. Some young people felt that it was important to increase “early years school visits” to “reduce stigma of the police.”

The attendees were split into three groups and moved to three discussion areas, each group getting an opportunity to speak about the three identified themes. One theme was perceptions of the police in 2019.

Some of the young people said they “hate the police, they’re too quick to blame people who are non-white.”

“It’s not just colour, but also about what area you live in.”

“The police don’t go to areas where they don’t sell drugs, but they should go everywhere.”

“I see the police as a gang but they can keep people safe in some respects like abuse against children.”

One of the young people had a different experience with the police when they were with their Youth Justice Service worker. They described their experiences as positive.

The third discussion topic was online presence and what would work when trying to communicate with young people. The group said: “humorous videos, but not patronising ones” would be good and that it was okay for the police to “use all social media except Snapchat.”

“Communication doesn’t have to only be online, it should be face-to-face.”

“Police have a negative image and they need to work on how they’re perceived. Social media should help to humanise the police.”

One young person said “there is a perception of the police as being threatening.”

“There is a fine balance between uniform being for creating safety and enforcement.”

One said “there should be a guide to how to contact the police online, for young people.” “The police need to create a helpline which feels accessible to young people and is young people friendly.”

Young people fed back that their most used social media is Instagram, followed by Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp and finally Facebook.

Some believed that it would be appropriate for the police to use these channels and provide approachable and friendly content.

One young person said that it was important to “address online cyber crimes including selling drugs and methods for young people to pass on information.”

“Transparency is important and police posts could create get their messages out.”

The attendees then joined together with a Q&A session with the police. The group were joined by Superintendent Paul McCurry, Superintendent Melanie Palin and Sergeant Simon Kirkham to discuss some of the issues that were raised in the debates and discussions.

Young people challenged the police about racism in the police force and stated that the police had no presence in their communities. Sergeant Simon Kirkham offered to run sessions where the debate could be continued.

Sheffield Young Advisor Shuheb Miah said that conversation at the debate concluded that there was “ideological bias – police are proportionally from a white culture so they lean more towards their own culture without realising that others view them in a racist light.”

Shuheb continues, “The key issues were trust, faith and the effort to report to the police. Media portrayals create a typification of a certain criminal type which shapes the views the police have of offenders.”

Key issues from the debate include: “interaction and understanding, social exclusion/segregation and partiality (BME- 25% under 25 yrs)”

“United Nation convention of the rights of a child says: ‘Child’s state is a primary consideration in the context’ of them being vulnerable in juveniles justice.”

The Bridging the Gap debate attendees said that “999 police line isn’t very efficient when you’re in an emergency and waiting ‘on hold’ could become dangerous.” Solutions could include:
⁃ “Officers suggest an app is created that on use pinpoints location and creates an individual helpline with a member of the police who can help directly
⁃ Access to social media (Twitter) like the Facebook SY police page where surveillance can occur to monitor safety of online servers.
However… this runs the risk of a ‘surveillance society’ or the ‘Big Brother effect’ where protection conflicts with people’s private lives.”

Shuheb said that the group he was with spoke about the power that police held. One said: “They are bullies by making young people powerless and not listening to what they’ve to say in the wake of implementing justice.”

Others said: “If a good service is given by the police the this good experience will be disseminated to others who then share the positive experiences with the police which they will also expect to find if a situation arises with the police creating unity.”

“The people and their behaviour rather than the race should dictate the treatment.”

One said “When an act is committed it is the behaviour/situation that is to blame and has influenced this act.”

Some of the group felt that their communities would not attend a conversation with the police. “Communities not wanting to attend as an already negative/tainted reputation with the police and they have a lack of faith.”

Shuheb’s overall views of Bridging the Gap event:
🙂 The event helped address issues especially the BME community view
🙂 Issue focus meant that the senior members could not work closely with the groups/members who felt affected by the police processes that did not benefit them.

😞 The police are cyclical by focussing the same old issues again and again when aspects like racism exist and simply talking about them will not remove these ingrained biases.”

      

Why Human Rights Matter for our Future by Sheffield Young Advisors and Youth Cabinet Members

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The Political Quarterly recently commemorated 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) with a special edition, focusing on the contemporary relevance of the UDHR within the UK.

Three young people from Sheffield Futures wrote statements for the Political Quarterly about the human rights that are most important to them and why human rights are important for the future.

To read Sheffield Youth Cabinet Members: Jude and Khalil and Sheffield Young Advisor Natasha’s pieces, please see the Political Quarterly here.

Announcement: Sheffield’s new Members of Youth Parliament!

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We are very pleased to announce the new Members of Youth Parliament.

For North Sheffield, the Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) is Daisy Taylor (Forge Valley School) and the Deputy Member of Youth Parliament is Rowan Blunkett (Forge Valley School).

For East Sheffield, the Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) is Olivia Bradley (All Saints) and the Deputy Member of Youth Parliament is Jake Sutcliffe (Park Academy).

For West Sheffield, the Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) is Jude Smith (High Storrs) and the Deputy Member of Youth Parliament is Nye Roberts (Notre Dame).

The new MYPs and DMYPs were announced in March 2019. The three MYPs will be heading to the House of Commons later this year to debate the top youth issues today, following Make Your Mark, the UK’s largest youth consultation.

New event! Bridging the gap: improving communication between the police and young people

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Thursday 30th May 2019

6-7pm at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division St, Sheffield, S1 4GE.

BOOK YOUR FREE PLACE

How can the police better communicate with young people?

Why wouldn’t a young person report a crime?

What can be done to change that?

Following on from Sheffield Youth Cabinet’s knife crime consultations with young people, we want to start a discussion to see how we can work together for a better, safer Sheffield.

In association with South Yorkshire Police.

For further information and our full programme visit www.festivalofdebate.com

Democracy Awards for the Youth Cabinet elections!

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Sheffield Futures presents Democracy Awards to schools and organisations that are involved in the Sheffield Youth Cabinet elections.

The awards are for the percentage of young people who vote in the elections, to thank them for their hard work engaging young people with democracy and their involvement helping young people to have their say.

Gold Awards

For 90% of students voting, Gold Awards go to: Sheffield Park Academy, Chaucer School

Silver Awards

For 70% of students voting, Silver Awards go to: Newfield School, Meadowhead School, High Storrs School, Birley Academy, Stocksbridge High School, Forge Valley School

Bronze Awards

For 50% of students voting, Bronze Awards go to: Parkwood Academy, Handsworth Grange School, King Ecgbert School, Sheffield High School, Silverdale School

Special Recognition Awards

For schools and organisations that have worked very hard to give the young people in their setting a voice.

Some of the schools listed were just shy of 50% of their students voting, but all put a lot of work into allowing their students the opportunity to vote with assemblies, tutor groups and lunch time. The youth clubs won the Special Recognition Award due to the number of young people voting!

The Special Recognition Awards go to: Marlcliffe Primary, Hinde House School, Yewlands Academy, Woodthorpe Youth Club, Tinsley Youth Club, Norfolk Park Youth Club.

 

Congratulations to all involved, we are proud to say that 14,121 young people voted for their Sheffield Youth Cabinet representatives – the highest number of young people voting ever!

Update: Woodthorpe Social Action Project! #WoodthorpeSAP

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Young people from Woodthorpe want to improve their youth club, to make it a welcoming space that the whole community can benefit from. Currently the community space is used by two groups, including Sheffield Futures Woodthorpe Youth Club. Attendees at the youth club have formed a group: Woodthorpe Social Action Project (WSAP) who “want to make the youth club more homely and inviting to people who haven’t been here before.”

The group have met with local Councillors to show them the space and the changes they would like to make. Here’s Ash showing them the paint samples they have chosen and how they voted as a group to decide which one to go with!

WSAP also met with Ryzard and Mo from All About You who run a session for young people with learning difficulties at Woodthorpe Youth Club.  They discussed what they were planning to do with the centre and how they plan to incorporate the young people from All About You group’s ideas and needs. 

They also discussed other opportunities to get involved in community action through All About You including using the outdoor areas and painting outside!

The group have been busy meeting local Police Community Support Officers to discuss their work, which led to a conversation about the area and local young people’s issues. The group discussed knife crime and young people’s solutions to the problems.

WSAP met with local employer, Loadhog, who have generously offered to support their social action project. Staff from Loadhog will be offering support painting and decorating on the main social action day (Friday 5th April) and the young people are delighted to have been offered their help. The group received a tour of the site and discussed ways in which they would try and help. 

The group are looking for support from local people, businesses and more to make their ideas a reality. Before any decorating can take place, there are repairs that need to take place and equipment which is no longer in use to be removed. WSAP will be holding fundraisers and asking the local community for donations to improve the club, but are also looking for donations of time and skills for the repair work.

Could you help WSAP? Call: 07766 751 614 or email: fundraising@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

“Anything that anyone can do would be great because this is a second home to us.”


#YouthWorkMatters

Introducing the new Sheffield Youth Cabinet!

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We are proud to announce the following young people have been elected by their peers to become the new Sheffield Youth Cabinet.

Sheffield East

  • Olivia Bradley
  • Cameron Smith
  • Jake Sutcliffe
  • Isaac Wood
  • Tomos Hadley 

Sheffield North

  • Muneerah Al-Yafai
  • Niamh Bailey-Smith
  • Rowan Blunkett
  • Gillian Cudjoe-Atsu
  • Daisy Taylor
  • Holly Vickers

Sheffield West

  • Aneurin Roberts
  • Ben Marks
  • Isabelle McNally
  • Jude Smith
  • Robin Gibbons
  • Hina Habib 

Sheffield East

Sheffield North

Sheffield West

Young people across Sheffield voted to decide who will be elected to join Sheffield Youth Cabinet, to voice their issues and concerns on a local, regional and national level. 2019 has been the most successful year for local young people voting in the Youth Cabinet Elections, with a total of 14,121 votes!

All over Sheffield, schools and youth clubs have been promoting the Youth Cabinet Elections, with posters advertising the school’s candidates as well as proud parents tweeting support on Twitter!

Outwood Academy posted their support for the elections, showing their Democracy student elections voting for their chosen candidates.

Birkdale School said: “Great to see so many pupils engaged with politics and voting for the Sheffield Youth Cabinet and Sheffield UK Youth Parliament.”

The candidates presented their manifestos in early February, which include their policies on important local issues such as mental health, environmental issues such as plastic usage, youth loneliness, knife crime, gang culture and period poverty.

The Elections announcement took place at Sheffield Town Hall and celebrated the achievements of the previous Youth Cabinet Members since they began their posts in 2017. Exiting members told of how they debated in the House of Commons, held events to tackle knife crime, consulted with young people in their area and more.

Members of Parliament Gill Furniss and Louise Haigh sent messages of support to the new Youth Cabinet, with Louise saying “politics affects us all, regardless of age. It is important that we value the opinions of young people.”

Former Members of Youth Cabinet spoke about their incredible achievements during the last two years including implementing a 16-18 Travel Card with local transport providers and more.

Jude Smith, Member of Youth Cabinet said: “I’m a completely different person to who I was before joining Youth Cabinet. I have friends all over the UK – it’s all down to the networking that it provides.”

Sapha Habib, Deputy Member of Youth Parliament said: “I have a much wider knowledge of politics, years ago I knew nothing about politics and now I am studying it and it’s going to be part of my life moving forward!”

Kate Hardy, Member of Youth Parliament said: “The main issue in the Make Your Mark [youth consultation] was knife crime, so we went out to youth clubs and spoke to young people about the issue. They were all so helpful. We asked about safety and solutions and then held an event at Sheffield Futures to consult with more young people.

Sam Broadhead, Sheffield Member of Youth Parliament offered some advice to the new Youth Cabient: “If you get an opportunity, you should take it. Being part of Sheffield Youth Cabinet means you will end up doing things you never could. It’s an incredible experience, so make the most of it.”

The group wished the new candidates well as they started their term in office.

Councillor Jackie Drayton thanked the former Youth Cabinet Members and told the new Cabinet that the programme “makes such an impact and a difference, not just for young people, but for everyone in the city.”

Sheffield Youth Cabinet Elections – counting is underway!

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Sheffield Youth Cabinet (SYC) and Members of Youth Parliament are busy counting the votes to decide who will be the next SYC and MYPs next week at the elections announcement evening.

Young people across Sheffield voted in their thousands to decide who will voice their issues and concerns on a local, regional and national level. The candidates presented their manifestos in January that included their policies on important issues such as knife crime, mental health and more.

Youth clubs and secondary schools have been encouraging young people to have their voices heard and make their votes count, by deciding who represents local them.

Woodthorpe Youth Club Social Action Project

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Young people from Woodthorpe want to improve their youth club, to make it a welcoming space that more young people can benefit from. Currently the community space, owned by Sheffield City Council, is used by two groups, including Sheffield Futures Woodthorpe Youth Club. Attendees at the youth club have formed a group: Woodthorpe Social Action Project (WSAP) who “want to make the youth club more homely and inviting to people who haven’t been here before.”

WSAP have made a list of things they would like to change about the club and are working on a plan – leading up to a day of social action during the Easter holidays, where they will work with local businesses and partners. This project will involve young people-led fundraisers, asking the local community for their time, skills and expertise and bringing together businesses, decision makers and young people to make positive change in an area that has received negative press. Last June, the Guardian reported a rise in serious violence across Sheffield, focussing on Lowedges and Woodthorpe “two of the estates blighted by a murder and three shootings in recent weeks.”

WSAP are meeting weekly to discuss ideas, organise fundraisers, create videos and plan the redecoration of their youth club. The group said: “Youth club is a safer place than being on the streets. We want to make it look better and we’re going to get involved as much as we can. We’ve written letters to MPs and Councillors inviting them to come down and see the club.”

The youth club stands back from the road, with little outdoor lighting to show that a session is on, which may attract new attendees. This is something that the group would like to change, with additional flood lighting so that they can make use of the club’s football pitch during the dark evenings.

Inside, the club needs a lick of paint and an upgrade to their furnishings. The group “met a street artist who we want to do a mural at the youth club. This project is giving us the experiences that we probably won’t ever have again. How many people will be able to say ‘I helped paint that wall with an artist’?!”

“I wanna do some spray painting because it sounds fun.”

The group are looking for support from local people, businesses and more to make their ideas a reality. WSAP will be holding fundraisers and asking the local community for donations to improve the club, but are also looking for donations of time and skills.

Could you help WSAP? Call: 07766 751 614 or email: fundraising@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

“Anything that anyone can do would be great because this is a second home to us.”


#YouthWorkMatters

#YouthWorkMatters: How a listening ear helped me turn my life away from crime

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‘It just didn’t register with me that shoplifting might have a negative impact on anyone else. I didn’t feel bad, I didn’t have a conscience.’

*Names have been changed

Jemma, 19, had just received a caution from the Police for shoplifting when she was introduced to Sheffield Futures and became a Young Advisor, giving young people a voice, which ultimately helped her turn away from a life of crime.

‘I first got involved with Sheffield Futures when I was 16.  At the time I had just received a caution from the Police for shoplifting and whilst I was in custody the Police asked me if I’d like to do a six week course to work out what might be making me shoplift and turn to a life of crime.’ Says Jemma.

Ironically, this was a real turning point for Jemma, just when she thought she had hit rock bottom there seemed to be hope. ‘They said that if we could get to the bottom of why I was making the wrong choices we might be able to change my behaviour. I had a one to one meeting with a support worker from MAST. We met every week for 6 weeks and talked about the negatives of shoplifting and consequences.’

‘It was then I realised that I didn’t think stealing would impact anyone else. The course helped me to develop a conscience and re train my brain to think about the consequences of my actions, not just for me but for everyone involved. I didn’t feel bad and didn’t have a conscience. It was basically 6 weeks of retraining my brain. We realised that I was bored and that’s why I was stealing.’

Jemma’s MAST worker also introduced her to programmes in Sheffield that she may be interested in. ‘That’s when I got involved with the Young Advisors – giving young people a voice – at Sheffield Futures. I didn’t think I’d ever be accepted into something like this again as I had a caution that would last 5 years.’ Says Jemma.

As part of her role with the Young Advisors at Sheffield Futures Jemma has spent time working on the children and young people’s safeguarding board, acting as a youth consultant, looking at how to best communicate with young people that have been identified as at risk.

Talking about her experience Jemma says, ‘I felt so safe speaking to my manager about my background and felt that I wasn’t judged but was just being given an opportunity to progress and gain experience.’

‘From my experience with the Young Advisors at Sheffield Futures I now know I want to work with children and young people as part of my future career. It’s given me so much experience and so many skills as well as crucial self-awareness. I’m now confident with public speaking and have made a difference in the community and feel tuned into the city’s issues. I’m a real people person and I love talking!’

Jemma is now studying at University and is on a positive path forward. ‘It was brilliant to be able to tick no convictions on my application form!’ Jemma says. ‘Thanks to the young advisors and Sheffield Futures taking a chance on me I’ve got the self-confidence, self-awareness and experience to achieve the things I never thought I would do in my life.’ 

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