Sheffield Youth Cabinet and Youth Parliament

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

ceriannr No Comments

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.

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

Tash Bright No Comments

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!

Tash Bright No Comments
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

Tash Bright No Comments

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!

Tash Bright No Comments

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!

Introducing the new Sheffield Youth Cabinet!

Tash Bright No Comments

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!

Tash Bright No Comments
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.

Largest youth consultation points to ending knife crime as top issue in Sheffield and nationwide

Tash Bright No Comments
Putting an end to knife crime has been voted as the top issue in the city as well as nationwide. That’s the result of the annual Make Your Mark Ballot, the UK’s largest national youth consultation in which 1 in 5 young people cast votes including 10,121 young people in Sheffield.

Thirty per cent of young people from across the city who voted said that too many young people’s lives had been lost and called on the Government to do more to tackle what they called the ‘knife crime epidemic.’

Improvement of mental health services and provision in schools (14 per cent), equal pay for young people doing the same work as adults in equal work (11 per cent), tackling homelessness and providing everyone with a place to live and an opportunity to live comfortably (10 per cent) and making public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all (8 per cent) were voted as the remaining priority issues by Sheffield’s young people respectively.

Kate Hardy, Member of Youth Parliament for Sheffield East says “In recent months the surge in violent crimes committed by young people has become more than apparent and seems to have affected many.’

‘I feel there’s a direct correlation between the cuts to youth services and the increase in violent acts, particularly knife crimes, amongst young people and said cuts urgently need to be reversed.’

‘Over the past three years over 600 youth centres have been closed across the UK and an 11% increase in knife crimes amongst young people seems to be the repercussion. Interestingly this comes at a time when there has been a 10% decrease in knife crime amongst adults. The government needs to take immediate action in order to stop further unnecessary deaths of Sheffield youth.”

As well as campaigning on these locally elected issues, Sheffield’s elected Youth Parliament members or MYP’s visited the House of Commons on Friday 9th November to debate the top five issues nationally with Youth Parliament members from other local authority areas as part of the Make Your Mark campaign. They have now agreed the top two national issues on the day to be taken forward as national campaigns: putting an end to knife crime and mental health.

Commenting on the results from the report Gail Gibbons, CEO Officer at Sheffield Futures comments ‘It’s fantastic to be able to facilitate Sheffield’s young people in setting their local campaigning agenda to get their voices heard and initiate change locally as well as getting their voices heard at a national level.’

‘It’s so important that we listen to our young people and take action to enable positive change in our communities.’

‘We’re really proud of our Sheffield UK Youth Parliament members and look forward to the outcomes of the national UK Youth Parliament debates at the Houses of Commons.’

 

Youth Work Matters exhibition Mon 29th Oct – Fri 2nd Nov, Winter Gardens

Tash Bright No Comments

Sheffield’s largest youth charity, Sheffield Futures, are celebrating youth work and its fantastic achievements for young people and communities. Since 2010, funding to vital youth services has been cut, with 600+ youth centres closed nationally. In Sheffield, we are pleased to say that youth services are still funded by Sheffield City Council, although delivery is reduced annually.

To celebrate and demonstrate the value of youth work, Sheffield Futures has developed Youth Work Matters. Youth Work Matters is an exhibition to showcase why youth work is so important to the communities in our city. Featuring young people from across the city, these photographs tell the story of why youth work matters and needs continued support for the benefit of all Sheffield’s communities.

For this project, we visited nine of the youth clubs that Sheffield Futures run each week across the city, including one club for young with learning disabilities; we spent time at the Wellbeing Cafe for young people with emotional wellbeing issues and spoke to Sheffield Young Advisors and Sheffield Youth Cabinet, to see why youth work is important to them.

 


How you can support us:

Find out more about how youth work transforms lives by following our #YouthWorkMatters campaign on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.

You can also write your own message of support for @SheffFutures using the hashtag #YouthWorkMatters

Please visit www.sheffieldfutures.org.uk to find out more about what we do and how you can support us with fundraising, volunteering or as an ambassador.

12

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.