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Volunteering helped Sheffield teen find her future career

Tash Bright No Comments

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!

10 ways to destress for exams

Ruth Durkin No Comments

1. Get a change of scene

We all know the feeling of sitting at your desk, staring at the same page of revision for an hour, with none of it sinking in. Go for a 10-minute walk! Physical exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which cheers you up. Drinking in some nature can take your mind off work for a while, allowing you to reflect on what you have to do away from the pile of paper.

2. Turn off your computer screen

It’s all too tempting to scroll through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram when you’re having a break from revision, but staring at a screen all day is scientifically proven to increase stress in some people, and makes it difficult to sleep. Try giving someone a call – old friends, family, partners, anyone to take your mind off revision without the need for a screen!

3. Listen to some music

Cranking up the volume on a feel-good classic can really brighten up your day, and turn the same dingy revision den into a daytime disco!

4. Eat some fruit

Chocolate may be tempting, but the guilt might stress you out more! Instead, why not go for the natural goodness of fruit? They have plenty of sugars to give you energy. Bananas are particularly good; the potassium helps to keep your blood pressure down.

5. Meditate

Meditation doesn’t mean sitting cross-legged on top of a mountain, chanting ‘Ommm’… but spending 10 minutes with your lights off in bed practising Mindfulness can be a great way to clear your head and get a healthy dose of perspective on your workload. There are plenty of apps and online tools that can help guide you through meditation – just Google ‘Mindfulness’!

6. Sleep

This one sounds obvious, but the number of people who don’t sleep properly is astounding. You may think you don’t have time to get a solid kip, but your brain will take in a lot more information after a proper rest, so it can actually increase your revision productivity. Make sure you turn screens off (computer and phone) an hour before bed, as the blueish light stops you from getting to sleep.

7. Write a list of things you’re happy about

Sometimes, in the depths of a tough study session, it’s hard to remember what it’s like to be happy. Write a list of all the things that cheer you up, and have a look when you feel like it’s all getting a bit too much. It could be anything from football in the park to a hot bath – climbing trees to cuddling puppies.

8. Say no, politely!

Don’t forget about your friends and family and make time to see them when you can. However, some people might not understand that you need to focus on your studies and, for the time-being, you may need to see people less frequently than usual. Explain to your nearest and dearest that you’d love to see them when your exams are over, or even better, to celebrate when you receive your results! Don’t take on too much or you might feel overwhelmed.

9. Smile!

Even fake smiles are proven to improve your mood. We’re not sure why, they just do! Time yourself for one minute of grinning, and you’ll probably feel a lot better after it!

10. Open a window

If you really don’t have time to go for a walk, even cracking a window open can be a great way to feel better. A cold breeze can be very invigorating, and the fresh air benefits your body, making you mentally and physically prepared for work.

9 ways to improve your concentration

Ruth Durkin No Comments
  1. Clear the room

 Try to find somewhere quiet and relaxed – too many people around will inevitably distract you. It’s also important to clear your workspace – a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind!

  1. Get rid of online distractions

The internet is a weird, wonderful and wide-reaching place – brilliant for many things, including procrastination. It’s so easy to get carried away checking Twitter, and it can be a real spanner in the works for your train of thought. There are heaps of browser extensions that block out specific websites for an hour or two – Search Google for ‘Blocksite’, a popular one.

  1. Clear your head

You know that feeling when you’re in the zone, and 2 hours later you’re staring at an entire essay but you’re not quite sure how it all happened?

Great spurts of working energy don’t just come from nowhere. You have to start out with a clear mind, with no distractions knocking around. Try downloading a ‘meditation’ app, they’re brilliant 10 minute exercises to help you clear your thoughts.

  1. Write down your goals

You’re never going to achieve much with your day if you don’t know what you’re setting out to achieve. Writing down your goals for the day makes it ten times more likely that you’ll conquer them. Seeing them laid out, ink on paper, is almost like having a written contract with yourself – and ticking them off is all the more satisfying when you get to stage 7.

  1. Set Deadlines

Having written down your goals, put a time frame on them! And not just “today I’ll do X Y and Z” – think “9:00-11:00 finish X, 12:00-2:00- finish task Y”. Breaking apart your time means you won’t get overwhelmed by all the bits and bobs you have to do, and you can focus fully on one task at a time.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to cram a year’s worth of work into one day either, be realistic!

  1. Break apart tasks

So you’ve followed the above steps, and now you’re getting to a whopper of a task. Take 5 minutes to brainstorm a plan of how you will do it from the very first steps – anything you’ll need to research, to the first steps of actually doing it

  1. GET ON WITH IT.

This is the most important step, the one to pay attention to if you forget all the others: JUST DO IT. It’s all well and good faffing around with step 1-6 all day but it’s not going to get anything done. Try and get those out of the way quickly.

  1. Short, Regular breaks

Once you’re on a roll, don’t let it burn you out – try and take a short break once an hour. Don’t get sucked in to the internet or social media – try to do something a little more invigorating. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, dunk a biscuit for a dangerous amount of time – whatever gets you pumped.

  1. Live healthily

A healthy diet and regular sleeping pattern makes all the difference to how long your concentration holds out. You’d be surprised at how much more you get done with 8 hours kip and some form of granola-yoghurty brain food combination for breakfast!

Sheffield Futures launches young people’s guide to life

Ruth Durkin No Comments

Sheffield Futures has released the third edition of their Mi Book which helps young people to live a safe and healthy life.

The content of the book was decided by young people from local schools and members of the Sheffield Young Advisors; trained 16-19 year olds who offer consultation services to services and businesses to make them youth-appropriate.

The young people agreed that their peers needed information around drugs and alcohol, pregnancy, mental health, sexual health, housing, sexual exploitation and bullying amongst many other important issues.

The small, pocket guide has been distributed to schools within Sheffield and is also available from the charity’s city centre premises at Star House on Division Street. Young people are encouraged to call in to collect a copy.

An app to accompany the guide is coming soon which will contain additional information, advice and guidance content including managing personal finances, family break-ups and step families, bereavement and leaving home.

Gail Gibbons, Chief Executive Officer of Sheffield Futures said: We’re really proud to present our latest edition of Mi Book; a pocket guide to life in Sheffield. We hope young people will find this useful.”

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.