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Success for Sheffield’s youth election as voters turn out in their thousands

Tash Bright No Comments

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. 2017 has been the most successful year for local young people voting in the Youth Cabinet Elections, with a total of 11,581 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!

Birkdale School said: “Our lower school assembly handled the topic of democracy and we all voted [in the Youth Cabinet Elections this February.]”

Handsworth Grange said: “Pupils will be voting and showing their support. Good luck to our own Fozia Sultana.”

The candidates presented their manifestos in early February, which included their policies on important issues such as mental health, cheaper transport and a curriculum to prepare young people for life as well as other concerns.

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 2015. Exiting members told of how they met with Members of Parliament and discussed the local issues they championed, which were then raised in the Houses of Parliament.

Lare Fergie said: “The past few years have been truly wonderful, and it has been an honour to represent the young people of Sheffield. One thing that has really stood out to me is that we can make a real difference.

Back when I was first elected, I had very little experience politically; I attended protests and was incredibly passionate about what I believed in. But since then I’ve managed to make some very real changes. I’m currently working for the Royal College of Psychiatrists alongside NHS England, writing pioneering policy, and pathways. I’ve spoken at countless conferences, to commissioning groups, and politicians. I’ve done TV, radio and newspaper interviews raising awareness of mental health problems… The list could go on.”

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

Certificates were presented to the group for their achievements over the last year and each member was congratulated by Sue Mia, former Involvement Worker at Sheffield Futures who retired in March 2016. Sue said: “One of the best things about being a youth worker is seeing young people blossom, learn to have their say and I’m sure you will all go on to be a great success.”

MP Gill Furniss welcomed the event, saying: “Becoming a Youth Councillor will give you the confidence to speak on behalf of all young people in Sheffield. That confidence will help you to work with MPs and make a difference on a national scale. I’m so pleased that many young people have voted in this election and it is important that you all vote, and have your say in the future. Hopefully we will see you on the Council soon and in Parliament after that!”

The new Sheffield Youth Cabinet for 2017 – 2019 are:

Elected Youth Councillors for West Sheffield are; Arman (King Edwards VII School), Benjamin (Tapton School), Ismail (High Storrs School), Lara (Tapton School), Luke (King Edwards VII School), Rebecca (Tapton School) and Sam (Tapton School).

Successful Youth Councillors representing East Sheffield are; Abbi (Park Academy), Fozia (Handsworth Grange Community Sports College), Kate (Outwood Academy), Sapha and Shauna.

Elected Youth Councillors for North Sheffield are; Aisha, Jennifer (Hinde House), Joanna (Firth Park Academy), Leo (Yewlands Academy) and Megan (Ecclesfield School)

Lara Fergie, Youth Councillor for East Sheffield delivered a closing speech and thanked the participants for all of their hard work, saying: “Events like this give me hope that young people really do have a voice and I’m excited to see what we can achieve in the next two years.”

The schools which participated in the voting process also received accolades. Schools were given a Democracy Award for their achievements with the Bronze award for 50% or more students voting, going to Park Academy, Newfield School and Stocksbridge High School.

Over 70% or more of students at the following schools voted, earning the schools the Silver award: Birley Community College, High Storrs School, Meadowhead School, Chaucer School and Hinde House.

Yewlands Academy received votes from 100% students, earning the school the only Gold award.

Designing the Future: Race Inequality

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These blog posts were collated by Sheffield Futures staff, based entirely on ideas from a range of young people in Sheffield at our ‘Designing the Future’ workshop, where we asked them to discuss various topics, identify the key issues and come up with potential solutions. We strive to give a voice to all young people, so all of their points of view have been included. 

Problems

Cultural segregation means that different communities don’t necessarily have the opportunity to regularly interact, integrate and learn from each other.

People of different backgrounds may experience a lack of confidence based on all of the negative press, and not enough is being done to encourage them.

One of the largest propagators of racism is sensationalised news. The media rarely shines a positive light on multiculturalism, instead choosing to deepen social divides by opting for negative spins for the sake of dramatic headlines.

Racial inequality can be prevalent in employers, too – CV’s can be binned for having a name at the top which suggests a different ethnic origin.

 

Solutions

There are parts of each culture that everyone shares an interest in, and these are a good way to introduce different communities to each other. Food is the way to everyone’s heart, and a mutual appreciation of cuisine could be a brilliant way to ‘break the ice’. Markets for food and clothes should make a point of being cross-cultural, as these can be a great way to facilitate interaction between communities. Musical events should also encourage talent from different backgrounds to perform together, introducing people to things they may never have heard before.

This could be extended by ‘skill swapping’ classes. English speakers and non-English speakers can help to learn each other’s languages – people who enjoy cooking can teach each other different cuisines.

Employers should be encouraged to look at CV’s blindly – by omitting the name and address of people, they can make a fair assessment of the candidate without discrimination.

People should be taught from an early age to think critically about what they are reading and watching, developing an awareness that people are trying to influence their decisions and opinions constantly, and make up their own mind about issues based on facts. We can’t allow unfounded blame to influence ideas. Young people should also be taught more about different ethics and cultures.

As a society, we should boycott and stand up against sensationalist news stories in favour of positive press coverage of different races. Individuals in media organisations should be held accountable for the hate they spread by spinning stories against other cultures.

Designing the Future: Unemployment

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These blog posts were collated by Sheffield Futures staff, based entirely on ideas from a range of young people in Sheffield at our ‘Designing the Future’ workshop, where we asked them to discuss various topics, identify the key issues and come up with potential solutions. We strive to give a voice to all young people, so all of their points of view have been included. 

 

Problems

The job market is so over-saturated, employers seem to have no choice but to rely on qualifications and grades for jobs. On the contrary, many jobs are easier to secure if you know the right people – ‘friends of friends’ get a foot in the door without necessarily being the best fit for the role.

Another major issue in employment are personal attributes and skills that are necessary in most jobs. Language barriers present a massive issue for any non-native speaker – it limits their potential to positions where everyone speaks their language. Whilst many roles aren’t customer facing, being ‘likeable’ and sociable seems to be an important factor for many employers. This is an issue for many people who haven’t been taught how to conduct themselves professionally.

Many people seem to lack the confidence to apply for higher-paid jobs because they don’t recognise their skills as being transferable.

 

 

Solutions                                                   

The Government should subsidise ideas that encourage local innovation, and promote apprenticeships in small businesses. As well as facilitating growth of start-ups, it can create increased local employment opportunities where apprentices can benefit from the wide-ranging experience provided by small enterprises, helping them to realise the diversity of their skills and map out a career path.

Language workshops and classes should be made publicly available. An alternative could be the promotion of free e-learning tools for language.

Campaigning for corporations to be more lenient with their hiring policies is an important step in ensuring we don’t turn into a grade-reliant society. People should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their effectiveness at a particular job, however impressive their CV looks.

Education plays a large part in the solution: contextualising good behaviour in terms of professional conduct would give young people an idea of how they need to behave to retain employment. Schools could also teach more real-world issues in schools – for example, by shifting the focus of maths towards financial literacy, and tackle CV’s and covering letters in English lessons.

We should also do more to give people the confidence to apply for the jobs they can be passionate about by helping them recognise their transferable skills.

Designing the Future: Water, Sanitisation and Healthcare

Tash Bright No Comments

These blog posts were collated by Sheffield Futures staff, based entirely on ideas from a range of young people in Sheffield at our ‘Designing the Future’ workshop, where we asked them to discuss various topics, identify the key issues and come up with potential solutions. We strive to give a voice to all young people, so all of their points of view have been included. 

 

Problems

Water sanitisation is a major issue that primarily affects developing countries. Many people aren’t aware that diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death for children under 5, with around 760,000 children dying every year. Even if people do have access to clean water, many don’t realise the importance of simple things like washing your hands regularly – and don’t have the soap to do so. Large companies exploit developing countries by selling water for profit, when clean water is among the most basic of human rights. Medicine is often extremely cheap to produce, but large pharmaceutical companies buy the rights to drugs and hike up the prices for the sake of profit.

 

Potential solutions

We should focus on educating people from developing countries – money provides a short-term solution, but governments must get together to create an educational strategy to help other countries help themselves. We can equip them with the technology and the knowledge to create their own sources of clean water, and help to educate children about the importance of hygiene. Whilst water would be the first priority – the most immediate problem which often the simplest solution – we can use this model of education to help them build an infrastructure for creating like sewage systems, pharmaceuticals and other healthcare needs.

Government funded research in diseases like trachoma would mean the rights to these crucial medications is in the hands of the right people, not the corporations who are motivated by profits. This would give us an economically viable means to help countries in need in the short-term. Sharing these innovations would become an important part of a long-term strategy to helping these countries to produce the medications for themselves.

Sheffield Youth Cabinet Elections 2017

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What is this election?

This election is an opportunity for you to vote for a candidate to become a member of the Sheffield Youth Cabinet. Each candidate has written a manifesto to explain what they hope to achieve in this role.

What do the Sheffield Youth Cabinet do?

The Sheffield Youth Cabinet aim to represent the voice of all young people aged 11-18 who live in Sheffield. As a part of their role they work on campaigns to make adults and other young people look at and listen to the issues that you want seen and heard. This work is voluntary. They are all passionate about making Sheffield and the UK a better and fairer place for young people.

Where and when can I vote?

  • A Ballot Box will be or has been delivered to your school.
  • You can vote in your school or possibly in your local youth club or at a youth group that you go to.
  • You can vote anytime from the 6th of February to the 14th of February 2017

Why should I vote?

  • You are voting for a young person who wants to make a difference for you and other young people.
  • Democracy and living in a fair and equal society is important for everyone.
  • These are not adult politicians making decisions about your future, these are young people giving you a voice now.

How do I vote?

  • Take 5 minutes to watch and listen to the Manifestos – coming soon to the Sheffield Futures website/Facebook and in your schools.
  • Decide which candidate you think would do a good job.
  • Think about the issues that they have said they will try to improve.
  • Put a cross or tick next to the candidate that you choose on your voting slip.
  • Put your voting slip in the ballot box.

If you have any questions please contactLee Raven – Youth Worker, Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division Street, Sheffield, S1 4GE

Twelve Days of Sheffield Futures!

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Sheffield Futures, showed they could rock around the Christmas tree by releasing a video of staff performing the Twelve Days of Christmas, with a charity twist!

The Marketing and Communications team and re-worked the song to celebrate successful activities raising funds to give Sheffield’s young people the future they deserve. Throughout the year Sheffield Futures run activities and campaigns aimed at giving young people education and employment opportunities, whilst also helping young people at risk in Sheffield. The local charity has done lots of vital youth service work over the last 12 months, so to finish of the year on a light-hearted note, they put on their Christmas hats and sweaters and showed that although they play a positive part Sheffield’s future, they may not have a future in music.

Whilst the harmonies may be few and far between, the Christmas spirit comes in bucket loads. You can see the full version of the video on the Sheffield Futures YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4-Jj63Oa58 and the video is also being released in 12 segments on social media until Christmas Eve. The song’s lyrics detail many of the ways that Sheffield Futures help young people to succeed, “Sheffield Futures gave to me life guidance for a better me!”

One size does not fit all – #YouthWorkWeek

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Sheffield Futures has developed a model to ensure the youth work skill set is not lost despite the current climate of cuts to youth services. The recent Unison report ‘The Damage’ shows how cuts to youth services are damaging young people’s lives. In Sheffield, we are determined that this will not be the case.

It’s well known that there have been many cuts to youth services, with 350 youth centres closed nationally since 2012.

A teenage attendee at Woodthorpe Youth Club said: “Youth work is so important to us because our youth workers are always there for us even when we don’t deserve it, and won’t ever give up on us even though it feels sometimes like everybody else has.”

In Sheffield over the last six years, youth clubs have closed and opening hours and funding for activities have been reduced. The need for youth work does not reduce with funding cuts though. Youth workers support teenagers with everything from health, to employment, to citizenship and community involvement. The relationships that young people form with youth workers are invaluable, support is tailored and responsive to change in need. However, whilst youth work engagement and support skills are in high demand for one to one work with vulnerable young people, funding for traditional youth work services is reducing – leaving a skills gap.

Jon Boagey, National Youth Agency said: “In recent years youth work organisations like Sheffield Futures have responded to the pressing needs of the most vulnerable young people. Investment has shifted in this direction but we also need to fund programmes that support young people before their needs become acute.  Sheffield Futures has managed to continue supporting open access youth work and hopefully resources will be available to do this in the future.”  

This Youth Work Week, award-winning youth charity Sheffield Futures is celebrating the skilled work force that is often described as a lifeline for young people. All qualified youth workers have been given additional training so that they can deliver much-needed one to one support, assessing and supporting vulnerable young people at risk of poor life chances.. This flexible delivery ensures that young people have workers who delivers open access youth work in clubs as well as supporting them on a one-to-one basis through a case work approach. In Sheffield, youth workers are part of multi-agency youth support teams.

Louise Ellison, Community Youth Teams Manager at Sheffield Futures said: “The city of Sheffield is committed to ensuring that youth work skills and youth services are not lost. The City Council contracts Sheffield Futures to run youth services including regular youth clubs. Sheffield Hallam University deliver the Youth and Community Work degree, showing that in our city, there is both a need and people wanting to deliver

Sheffield has developed a flexible approach to youth work, developed to the individual and community need. For instance, the ‘curriculum’ delivered at Sheffield Futures youth clubs, is developed to meet the needs of the community and young people who attend. Youth work takes many forms in the city, and includes group work, one-to-one sessions, open access youth clubs and detached work, on the streets where young people are. Services are delivered by multiple agencies, including specialist workers who help young people to think about their future and take steps towards education, employment and training.

Ellie McMahon, Youth Worker at Sheffield Futures said: “I think youth work is so important because the transition from childhood to adulthood is one of the most difficult and confusing times in a lifetime, and youth work provides a safe and supportive environment for young people to find who they are and get answers to things they otherwise would not ask. It also teaches things that school doesn’t, and does so in a completely non-judgemental and inclusive way.”

Sheffield Parent Talks About Their Child Sexting

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During our  ‘Let’s Talk About Sexting’ campaign we have looked at a wide range of topics surrounding young people sending and receiving sexual imagery. As our campaign draws to an end, the main thing that has become apparent is that there is so much to consider and it is imperative that we look at the bigger picture. Young people sexting has become a major issue in schools, for families, child exploitation services  and for young people as individuals.  Our society and the technological advances that have led to sexting becoming so common place means that we all must take greater care in understanding why young people sext, the risks of young people sexting and the laws surrounding young people sexting.

Young people’s safety is always and should always be the top priority when sexting laws are put in place or when dealing with child sexual exploitation.  This week we will be focusing on the often forgotten topic of how young people sexting can affect the whole family.  PSHE Association found that 78% of parents were either fairly concerned or very concerned about youth produced sexual imagery. We interviewed local Sheffield parent, Carol, whose fourteen year old daughter had recently been referred to the Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Services after various sexting incidents.

How did you first find out your child was sexting?

She told me. I’m really glad that she can be open with me because it makes me feel less worried that there’s stuff going on that I don’t know about.

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How did you feel when you found out your child was sexting?

I was quite horrified. I tried to conceal it but it is very shocking. You just think you can’t relate it to your own youth. You just think, ‘what’s going on’ but apparently that’s what happens. She’s educating me! Everybody is doing it. That’s the way it sounds.

5-8

 

Does it help to talk to other parents?

Yeah it does. I talk to other parents. It is fairly widespread. You don’t want to think that your child unusually precocious. You think if they’re all doing but I still find it shocking.

5-6

 

Why do you think young people sext?

Partly because they can, because there’s the technology available. I think it’s a very sexualised world now. I think of the things that we thought were a bit rude on Top of the Pops and now it’s nothing. They can all get porn on their phones. I find that really sad because before they’re ready for sex, it’s there. Kids are inquisitive aren’t they. I think they have this very sexualised view of other kids and themselves whereas emotionally their miles away from being ready for it. She has had a couple of experiences of sex and she didn’t like it. She knew she wasn’t ready for it. She felt coerced and that put her of for a bit now. There’s a difference between the real thing and looking sexy and people fancying you. Two separate things.

5-5

 

What advice would you have for parents who are concerned their child might be sexting?

She’s always one step ahead of me. Even if I did manage to take her phone away, she’d just find another way of doing it. That’s her territory. I’ve got no way of knowing what’s on there. The thing that really really obviously bothers parents is the thought of them putting images on the web. We’ve talked about it ending up all over the place. I’ve told her what I think about it with things coming up on the news about images being circulated.

5-3

 

Have you learnt about any software that can be used to help monitor your child’s online/phone use?

I wouldn’t have a clue where to start about software to monitor her phone. I don’t have the ability. It’s gone beyond what I can do. We’re not idiots, it’s just so much has come so quickly.

5-7

 

How has working with Sheffield Futures helped you deal with the situation?

I think Sophie has gone through a big change where she’s felt herself a lot more grown up than her peers. She’s quite vulnerable and she’s quite impressed by people who are living what she sees as an exciting lifestyle. There were a couple of episodes where she was brought home by the police in the early hours as she was out with a boy she met from school, so that’s why we were referred by social services to the CSE team and I found it massively helpful. They discuss with Sophie about staying safe and different aspects of drugs, sex and alcohol in a way that Sophie would be telling to get lost. I’m really grateful that we’ve got that support… As a parent, you’re the one responsible for them and you can make errors because you just don’t know where to turn next. The natural thing is to clamp down and say you are not doing that and it just makes it worse but that’s the immediate thing you think you should do. Then you talk to the Sheffield Futures Sexual Exploitation Service team, who have knowledge and experience and you work out a way of dealing with it that is going to be a long term as rather than getting angry. When this thing is confronting you, you just panic and I think it makes a massive difference [to get support] because you could really make it a lot worse.

5-9

 

Has the sexting led to bullying?

There was a situation where she talked about it at school and that got spread around the school and she did find people talking about her and it was out of her control and that really upset her. That thing of other people knowing. Then of course the story gets changed.
5-10

 

Has sexting changed your relationship with your daughter?

I think as a parent it takes a bit of the idyllic parent thing away. You know you have the ‘my little girl’. You just have to grow up about it really and think it’s a thing. It’s there. I think parenting is one long compromise anyway. You have to let go of your own illusions and dreams because it’s the child being safe and happy that matters. That’s all you want.

 

If you have been affected by any aspect of sexting you can get help from the organisations bellow:

Childline – 0800 11 11 or in an online chat athttp://www.childline.org.uk/Talk/Chat/Pages/OnlineChat.aspx

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC – 0808 800 5000, by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, or by texting 88858.

They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

 

 

Festival of Debate Events at Sheffield Futures

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We put young people at the heart of all of our services. It’s important that we help you to have a voice, and to know how to make the most out of opportunities to speak to decision makers. We’re hosting three events with Festival of Debate this autumn, that will help you to have your say and talk about global issues!

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The Global Vote (Tuesday 11th October, 5pm at Star House)

The Global Vote lets anyone anywhere vote in any election. The founder of the Good Country (who measure which country was the happiest) and the Global Vote, Simon Anholt is coming to Sheffield Futures as part of Festival of Debate to talk to young people about elections and votes in other countries and how they affect you, as well as showing them his website.

https://www.facebook.com/events/826891764114870/

To register:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-global-vote-for-young-people-festival-of-debate-tickets-27305967885

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Asking Powerful Questions (Tuesday 25th October, 5pm at Star House)

This session is designed to help young people make the most out of every conversation with decision makers. It will help young people to discover who to approach, what to discuss and how to persuade. This workshop is run by the Politics Project through Sheffield Futures and Festival of Debate. As Sheffield Futures is all about young people’s voice, this is vital to our work and we would like to encourage all young people to attend.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1830089530556330/

To register:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/asking-powerful-questions-for-young-people-festival-of-debate-tickets-27304357067

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Designing the Future (Tuesday 8th November, 5pm at Star House)

We want to know what young people think about global issues. We’ll be holding a world café discussion about: climate change, gender and race inequality, migration, water and sanitation, healthcare and more. This is a great opportunity for young people to have their say, discuss potential solutions and join the dots between the biggest global issues today. This is a joint event with Festival of Debate and Sheffield Futures.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1655412368083798/

To register:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/designing-the-future-for-young-people-festival-of-debate-tickets-27306324953

Volunteering helped Sheffield teen find her future career

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Volunteering at Sheffield Futures, was the starting point that helped local teen make positive changes in her life.

Nineteen year old Courtney Castledine was filled with excitement as we spoke to her on the first day of her new full time job at Talent Match Sheffield City Region. Courtney began volunteering at Sheffield Futures at the age of thirteen after a series of challenges at school. Sheffield Futures provides local young people with the support and opportunities that enable them to make positive choices in their lives.

Growing up, Courtney explained how she didn’t get on well at school: “I struggled with all sorts at school…I wanted to do the best I could but found it difficult.” Courtney’s school referred her to Sheffield Futures who have links with schools all across the city.

Courtney defines her mentors at Sheffield Futures as part of her family. Speaking fondly of her time volunteering, she describes how she got involved with art projects at the local youth clubs that Sheffield Futures run. She particularly enjoyed designing anti-bullying posters: “I was so passionate about designing the posters, helping other people was all I ever wanted to do. I wanted to use my experience to give something back and help other young people”

At age sixteen, after volunteering at the youth clubs, her mentor suggested she go for the role of Young Advisor at Sheffield Futures. Young Advisors are paid to help organisations make their services youth friendly. As part of Young Advisors, Courtney went on to win the National Young Advisors Impact Award. She stated: “Being a Young Advisor built up my confidence massively. I wouldn’t be able to sit here and talk to you if I didn’t have all the previous experience. I probably wouldn’t have got the job I have now.”

During Courtney’s time as a Young Advisor she applied for a Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship through The Source, which helped her to secure her new full time job as an Admin Assistant for Talent Match Sheffield City Region. After completing the Apprenticeship Courtney has now been kept on and is helping to coordinate support for other young people aged between 18 – 24, looking to gain access to employment, education and training.

We can help you in many ways, from careers advice, to volunteering opportunities!

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.