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Blog: Young people’s response to Government’s consultation on statutory guidance for youth services

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The Government is calling for evidence from young people, local authorities and voluntary and community providers of local youth services to inform its revision of the statutory guidance on delivering youth services.

In this blog Emma Hinchliffe, our young people’s involvement lead, talks about the key themes raised in response to the consultation by young people in the Sheffield Young Advisors and the Sheffield Youth Cabinet.

The Sheffield Young Advisors are consultants who advise organisations on ensuring youth voice is central to their work and the Sheffield Youth Cabinet represent the voice of young people 11-18 across Sheffield.

In order to invite the views of young people, the government has provided a questionnaire for young people providing options for them to respond to. Within this, the government asked young people what they felt should be in the guidance to make sure it’s ‘useful’.

Our young people felt overwhelmingly that the government should include a statutory minimum requirement that young people should be able to access youth services, including youth groups offering a wide range of activities that are engaging for the young people in the area.

Within this, detached youth work, where young people are engaged by highly skilled youth workers on the streets and are signposted to youth provision was a key requirement. And importantly, in order to shape recommendations it was felt young people should be continually consulted to ensure the guidance is representative of young people’s voice in the regions so that youth work offers meaningful, inclusive, engaging and accessible youth work tailored for those young people.

Our young people felt that the guidance should be more agile and be reviewed ongoing to change in line with national and regional priorities to confront and tackle the major issues of the day for example, mental health, criminal exploitation and associated knife crime. Our young people went further to say that in the case of identified major issues in a particular area, that detailed preventative strategies be included in the guidance to keep young people safe.

When asked about the local council’s role in shaping the services provided for young people, all felt young people should be consulted throughout the planning, delivery and review process to ensure youth voice is central. And that it was important for those undertaking this to go the extra mile to ensure all young people in a locality are represented. Engaging with schools, colleges and education providers, youth clubs, youth voice groups and other community spaces accessed by young people for instance.

Peer to peer support and consultation were also suggested as ways to reach and represent harder to reach young people for example, those who have disengaged from society as a result of criminal exploitation, chaotic lifestyles or school bullying and in fact, are the ones who can benefit most from youth work.

The goals that young people felt were important to them when asked were education, employment, relationships, being healthy physically and mentally, a good quality of life and standard of living. They also acknowledged that everyone’s goals would be different but that education and youth work are essential social levellers.

In order to ensure these goals were achieved, they felt the focus should be:
· Quality, professional support for young people who are not in university but are post 18 and not in education or work
· Professional careers advice and help
· Peer to peer support to engage hard to reach young people
· Accessible professional youth services that present opportunities and activities for young people to get involved in what they are passionate about

Accessibility and awareness of the guidance was also highlighted as an area required to improve so that young people understand how the government is meeting young people’s human rights ‘to express an opinion on any matter affecting them and to have that opinion taken into account’ and can therefore justifiably hold the government to account.

Fozia Sultana, a Sheffield Young Advisor, said: “When it comes to guidance it’s important to have transparency and give all options and possible outcomes to young people. And young people need to feel as if they have more power and control rather than the information being enforced upon them and them feeling helpless as a result.”

In summary, the young people called for peer to peer support that goes the extra mile to meet the hardest to reach young people. They called for putting young people at the centre of the guidance by accurately representing the voice of young people at a regional level and respecting young people’s human rights through accessibility of the guidance.

We urge other young people to come forward and have their say before 11:45pm on 1 December 2019.

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

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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 enquiries@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

Find out more about your community youth club here https://www.sheffieldfutures.org.uk/things-to-do/

 

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

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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.

How you can help

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