Young People’s Blog

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.

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.”

      

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.

Week two video diaries from our new involvement workers

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Our new ex Talent Match involvement workers have completed their second week in their new roles at Sheffield Futures. You can check out their week two video dairies here and share with young people and supporters via social media.

As ex Talent Match clients who were successful in securing employment, in these videos we are really keen to track the realities of their experiences coming into new employment to inspire other young people to have confidence to move forward and achieve their education, employment or training ambitions and ultimately shape positive futures for themselves.

For the next few weeks our new involvement workers will post their latest diary which will document their experiences in the new role.

The workers will ultimately form a new team who will be responsible for ensuring involvement of young people within the Talent Match programme as well as becoming mentors to provide additional support for Talent Match clients. The team will be based on the first floor in the Participation Development Team for two days a week and the rest of the week will be spent working across the Sheffield City Region supporting the Talent Match coaching organisations.

 

 

 

From Talent Match clients to Sheffield Futures employees: Our new involvement workers’ video diaries launched

Sadie White No Comments

Our new involvement workers have kicked off their new jobs and will be documenting their experiences including the highs and lows of their first few weeks as a video diary.

As ex Talent Match clients who were successful in securing employment in these posts we are really keen to track the realities of their experiences coming into new employment to inspire other young people to have confidence and achieve their education, employment or training ambitions and ultimately shape positive futures for themselves.

Jennifer Upperdine, Talent Match Young People’s Involvement Team Leader said: “These roles were specifically for young people who have participated in the Talent Match programme and this will be their first job in their professional careers, which is very exciting for us all!”

‘The road ahead can sometimes seem daunting but it’s always surprising what you can actually do when you put your mind to it. I wanted to share my experiences to show that even if something seems really daunting, there is always a way through and people are there to support you.’ Says Mabz Beet, Talent Match Involvement Support Worker.

For the next few weeks our new involvement workers will post their latest diary which will document their experiences in the new role.

You can watch the videos here and check them out and share with other young people and supporters via social media.

The workers will form a new team who will be responsible for ensuring involvement of young people within the Talent Match programme as well as becoming mentors to provide additional support for Talent Match clients. The team will be based on the first floor in the Participation Development Team for two days a week and the rest of the week will be spent working across the Sheffield City Region supporting the Talent Match coaching organisations.

Designing the Future: Climate Change

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. 

Issues

Our planet’s resources are dwindling – unsustainable sources of energy, like fossil fuels, are being taken advantage of. The carbon dioxide emitted contributes to the Greenhouse effect, and the resulting global warming would make sea levels rise and cause many countries to be flooded. Many people travel alone to work in a car that can fit 5, which is clearly a waste of petrol.

Our increasing consumerism demands more electricity and more meat – but mass farming of livestock increases methane levels, contributing to the greenhouse gases and therefore to global warming.

The government’s taxes on renewable energy are set to rise, meaning the sector will suffer – less people will be able to afford it, meaning less money will go towards researching and refining methods of acquiring sustainable energy.

 

Solutions

One of the crucial ways to combat climate change is by investing in, rather than taxing, renewable sources of energy. This encourages the growth of the sector, allowing more research to yield more innovative, efficient ways of procuring energy sustainably.

A very simple way is to invest in more energy efficient buildings that don’t need much electricity in the first place. Eco-houses require minimal heating due to their insulation, with skylights providing natural light in the day time, and many other ways of bypassing the need for electricity. We should encourage people to purchase light bulbs. One suggestion is to limit the use of energy per person or per household, or reward low energy consumption – use under a certain amount of electricity and receive a free theatre ticket.

Subsidising public transport would encourage more people to get the bus, which is a much more energy-efficient way of getting around. Car-sharing should be encouraged and rewarded for regular commutes, as this would ease traffic significantly as well as reducing fossil fuel emissions.

Environmental awareness should be a more prevalent part of the curriculum – teaching the next generation about the consequences of wasting resources is an effective way to make sure they treat the Earth well in the future.

Designing the Future: Gender

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

Both women and men are disadvantaged in different ways based purely on their gender. In the workplace, women are sometimes expected to wear heels and make-up. Men earn more money on average, and statistically hold more of the powerful positions. On the other hand, women get more maternity leave than men with paternity leave, and some organisations use this as grounds to not employ women.

Women can be objectified and ridiculed under the guise of humour by ‘Lad culture’, and the same ‘Lads’ would laugh at men if they were being abused by a woman.

The media can objectify and patronise women, and can teach boys that they must be muscular, practical and emotionless. Most 6-year-old girls think that words like ‘Genius’ are male traits, but most 6-year-old boys don’t feel comfortable expressing their feelings.

 

Solutions

Measures should be taken to ensure that people are treated by their merits at work: the distribution of power and the wage gap should always be tending towards being even. Maternity leave and paternity leave should be made equal, meaning employers have no prejudice between hiring either gender.

One of the key ways to normalise these biases is with early education – training teachers to interact young children exactly the same as each other, without taking their gender into account. Sex education should be in mixed classes. Young people should be taught to treat each human as an individual, and not to make presumptions or hurtful jokes about people based or gender.

The media has a responsibility to portray men and women equally – reporters should stop obsessing over women’s shoes and commend their accomplishments instead. MP’s should give all gender issues proper representation.

Designing the Future: Migration

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. 

Problem

One of the main issues with migration is the public perception of immigrants. The mainstream media tends to publish a divisive rhetoric which preaches negativity for publicity.

There are many complex economic implications to immigration policies – they affects the job market, housing, healthcare, education and many more things. Finding solutions to these issues doesn’t seem to be the focus of society – despite globalisation bringing everyone in the world closer, many would rather stop people coming into the country altogether.

 

Solution

Politicians should be lobbying for successful working migrants to gain citizenship. Young people should be educated on the practical and economic implications surrounding immigration so they are not so easily swayed by speculation based on stereotypes. In order to engage young people with such issues, the Department for Education should periodically release relevant, up-to-date learning resources and lesson plans that present balanced arguments for both sides, to be used by teachers across the country. Schools should invite visitors of various nationalities to speak to their pupils, showing the benefits of cultural diversity and of accepting people into the UK.

Designing the Future: Misinformation

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

The internet is an enormous source of misinformation – previously, facts would have to be verified to be published, but now anyone with a computer can reach and influence millions worldwide. People take their statements as fact, which can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Many sources of ‘facts’ are motivated by money. Search engines and social media websites prioritise the content of those who can afford advertising, meaning the opinion of those with money shows up first. People’s views are verified as social media sites show them personalised content, creating echo chambers of what people want to hear.

Media outlets release negative headlines simply because scandal sells, but this can have a massive impact – from unhealthy obsessions with image in celebrity culture, to the unfair, negative portrayal of different religions. They use compelling, sensational language to cover their lack of transparency with their information sources.

The media also contributes to the high turnover rate of controversies – politicians seem to be knowledge increasingly concerned with short-term gain to the point of telling outright lies, with the that the headlines tomorrow will distract the public from the indecency of today.

 

Solutions

People should be held more accountable for what they say and what they publish. Politicians who lie for their own or their party’s gain, and people in the media who knowingly publish fake news, should be apprehended for fraudulent behaviour.

Media outlets could be subjected to independent reviewers to verify facts so that more accurate information is portrayed.

Role models, celebrities (and everyone else) should stand up for the importance of facts, call out fake news stories and use their influence to preach a kinder way of communicating.

Social media organisations and search engines should be more transparent about how their systems work, and should prioritise factual results by filtering out unreferenced articles.

Designing the Future: Race Inequality

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

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.

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