Youth Clubs

Blog: Gail’s thoughts on the Government statutory guidance review for local youth services

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Gail Gibbons is the CEO at Sheffield Futures, leading the charity to deliver initiatives that support young people. The Government is calling for evidence from local authorities and voluntary and community providers of local youth services, to inform its revision of the statutory guidance on delivering youth services. The review aims to highlight the positive role local authorities can play in the provision of youth services, and ensure the guidance is useful and accessible for all. Here Gail discusses the key themes from Sheffield Futures’ response to the consultation, explores how the current guidance can be improved and urges others to have their say.

We welcome the Government’s call for evidence to strengthen the existing guidance on delivering youth services. The current guidance for local authorities is statutory rather than law. Therefore, the way in which youth services are delivered across the country is hugely variable in terms of quality, type and frequency.

This guidance status has meant in practice that local authorities, in face of wider budget pressures, have needed to significantly reduce funding in this area, as the guidance is viewed as desirable rather than essential.

We have youth services that in some areas have all but disappeared. This is a result of local authorities being so constrained by budget pressures, they have no option but to cut non-statutory services such as youth work, to free up funds to literally keep the streetlights on. This is devastating when we know that good quality, highly skilled youth work keeps our young people safe, enriched and enabled to build positive lives. Young people need this support more than ever after years of austerity has left swathes of the population in poverty, and children and young people even more vulnerable and in need of the vital safety net youth work can provide. That’s why I’m calling for a statutory youth service funded by each local authority area, staffed by highly skilled and qualified youth workers and underpinned by a set of professional standards, with a quality assurance framework based on positive outcomes for young people.

As part of any statutory youth service or guidance, there should be a clear definition for ‘youth services’. The term ‘youth services’ is generally recognised to mean, but not defined as youth work services, i.e. delivered by qualified youth workers, working to a set of professional standards. Without a clear definition, the positive impact of youth work for young people is diluted as services are not legally required to be delivered by qualified professionals to a statutory minimum standard.

The National Youth Agency have made the recommendation that at least two professional youth workers and a team of youth support workers and trained volunteers are required for each secondary school catchment area. This is a recommendation we wholeheartedly support.

Across the country outsourcing of youth services by local authorities to the voluntary and community sector is common, however the current guidance suggests that all local authorities provide youth services in house. This is not the case. In Sheffield for example, the local authority youth service was outsourced to our charity, Sheffield Futures, in 2002. This leads to my view that Government guidance needs to reflect the varied nature of the organisations delivering youth services across the country. It should show an understanding of the challenges the voluntary sector faces and provide guidance that reflects its unique strengths, for example Youth Partnership working.

In our area, Sheffield Futures provides the local youth service ‘Youth Sheffield’ on behalf of Sheffield City Council. In addition, there are a wide range of activities across the Positive Activities and Targeted Services spectrum, delivered by both statutory services and the voluntary sector, as well as private provision such as sports clubs.

As the local lead youth work delivery organisation, with strong links to national and regional youth work networks and professional groups, we are in the process of developing a Sheffield Youth Partnership. This will provide a co-ordinating function for a range of youth work providers to come together to build learning and capacity across our local sector. There are also a number of local multi-agency youth networks at neighbourhood level which meet regularly with the aim of co-ordinating provision in their areas. It is hoped that these could feed into a city-wide partnership, engaging with the local authority and other statutory services.

In conclusion, all young people deserve access to high quality youth services, regardless of where they are in the country. To counter the extreme poverty and associated resultant life limiting issues for all young people, we need statutory guidance that clearly defines youth work and provides minimum standards for delivery, for all sectors who deliver it, including the voluntary sector.

You can have your say and respond to the consultation until Sunday 1 December 2019.

Youth Work Week 2019 blog: Young people treated fairly and equally 

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Simon is a Youth Work Team Leader at Sheffield Futures. As part of Simon’s role, he delivers Youth Sheffield in the North of the city. Youth Sheffield is Sheffield’s city wide youth service. Youth Sheffield provides safe spaces where young people can feel comfortable and confident and take part in enriching activities, keeping them safe and supported to make the most of their lives. For today’s #YWW19 theme, Simon talks about how Sheffield Futures works to ensure young people in Sheffield are treated fairly and equally.

I’m a professional youth worker and have been involved in youth work for the last 20 years. My role within Youth Sheffield is to oversee all the youth clubs and youth workers in the North of Sheffield.

To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘If we can’t build a future for our youth, we must build our youth for the future.’ I believe that good quality, properly funded youth work can fulfil this function and as a society we owe it to young people to give them the best life chances.

Young people in Sheffield are starting from a very unfair and unequal position and unfortunately, the data shows how this trend is growing. To provide a flavour, in line with national trends, the most up-to-date data (August 2014) shows an increase in child poverty, with 24.7% of children recorded as living in poverty in Sheffield. That’s nearly a quarter of children. However there’s growing concern about increased differences in Sheffield between different parts of the city. In Ecclesall ward, 3.3% of children were living in poverty, whilst in Firth Park the figure was 14 times higher at 42.9% of children. The report suggests that there are clearly lots of causes of child poverty however that it’s likely the national welfare reforms are a significant driver of changes seen in levels of child poverty. Specifically the lower benefit cap that took effect in 2017 and has taken the number of households in Sheffield affected by the cap from 113 to an estimated 900 households. In total, those households contain 3,446 children. (Data taken from State of Sheffield Report 2017)

So, the playing field is far from equal yet Article 2 of the UN Convention rights of a child states that “No child should be treated unfairly on any basis”. This clearly sets out that no matter who you are, where you come from or your background you shouldn’t be treated unfairly because of this. Yet at some point in all our lives we have been treated unfairly or not as an equal to others based on our backgrounds, where we live as a result of perceived abilities in life or for other reasons.

Youth work readdresses this balance in that through coming into a youth work setting, young people are plugged into a range of support, advice and guidance as well as inspiring enrichment activities that act as a safety net and go some way to restore a sense of fair and equal treatment by society. In this setting they are exposed to positive role models. Our youth workers across the city are providing quality youth provision in safe and welcoming environments for young people. They treat all young people fairly and equally regardless of their post code, colour, creed, religious or political views or finances.  Through Youth Sheffield, we endeavour to put young people first and foremost, providing a safe and inspiring space where they are treated fairly and equally and are fully supported to make the best of their lives.

If you or a young person you know would benefit from getting involved in any of the initiatives mentioned here and would benefit from support please reach out to Sheffield Futures. Tel 0114 2012800 or enquiries@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

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

All youth clubs closed tonight – Thursday 7 November

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Due to the adverse weather conditions we have taken the decision to close all youth clubs across the city tonight. Please stay safe and dry.

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

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Gail Gibbons is the CEO at Sheffield Futures, leading the charity to deliver initiatives that support young people including Youth Sheffield, Sheffield’s city wide youth service. Youth Sheffield provides safe spaces where young people can feel comfortable and confident and take part in enriching activities, keeping them safe and supported to make the most of their lives. For today’s #YWW19 theme, Gail talks about how Sheffield Futures works to encourage young people in Sheffield to be active members of their communities and society.

We strongly believe that all young people have the potential to play a positive and active role in their communities and wider society; and that it is critical that young people are provided with opportunities and supported to do just that. Youth work and the youth work delivery model provides the perfect platform for enabling young people to make a positive contribution to their communities. As well as building confidence, active citizenship through youth work enables young people to demonstrate their capacity to make a difference and to develop soft skills sought by employers. It also enables young people to see the world from others’ perspectives and to develop a broader and deeper understanding of our wider society.

Active citizenship includes young people taking part in formal decision making in local areas. For example, Sheffield Futures co-ordinates the bi-annual national Mark Your Mark Campaign for Sheffield – encouraging as many young people as possible from schools, colleges, youth clubs and organisations to vote for the issues most important to them. The issues gaining the most votes are then taken forward by young people through local and national campaigns and debated by UK Youth Parliament members in Westminster. Our elected Youth Cabinet represents young people across Sheffield, and takes forward issues important to young people on their behalf – making a real difference to how services are delivered in our city. At local level, youth voice is an important part of our youth clubs – where young people are consulted on our youth work curriculum so that it really meets their needs.

Each year hundreds of young people we work with are involved in volunteering and social action projects – giving back to their local communities. Sheffield Futures is a member of the national #iwill campaign – with young people leading on a wide range of social action initiatives. These have ranged from the Woodthorpe Youth Club Social Action Project – which has recently been nominated for a local Community Award; to young people taking part in the annual Keep Britain Tidy litter pick initiative; and involvement with a local youth organisation partnership to raise awareness around issues relating to young people and health.

Our young people have also been involved this year in a number of projects aimed at educating their peers, and supporting the development of local statutory services to enable them to be more relevant and responsive to young people. For example, as part of a Home Office funded Early Intervention Fund programme, Sheffield Futures has trained up a group of young people to act as peer mentors – working with young people in schools to raise awareness about the risks of knife crime and child criminal exploitation. We are also supporting South Yorkshire Police to set up a South Yorkshire Young People’s Independent Advisory Board; and our Young Advisors are supporting the Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board to improve their practices.

Our young people have taken part in a wide range of festivals and events this year – raising awareness of issues which matter to them; and providing suggested solutions to some of the most challenging issues in society today. For example, our young people have led an event as part of the Festival of Debate; have taken part in the Migration Matters Festival; have been involved in Off the Shelf festival; and have an important role in the city’s Age Hub work. One of our Young Advisors also spoke at the recent Northern Powerhouse Conference about young people, work and skills.

If you or a young person you know would benefit from getting involved in any of the initiatives mentioned here and would benefit from support please reach out to Sheffield Futures. Tel 0114 2012800 or enquiries@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

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

 

Youth Work Week 2019 blog: Experiencing positive health and wellbeing

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Aaron Daniels is a Youth Work Team Leader at Sheffield Futures. As part of Aaron’s role, he delivers Youth Sheffield in the West of the city. Youth Sheffield is Sheffield’s city wide youth service. Youth Sheffield provides safe spaces where young people can feel comfortable and confident and take part in enriching activities, keeping them safe and supported to make the most of their lives. For today’s #YWW19 theme, Aaron talks about how Sheffield Futures works to ensure young people in Sheffield experience positive health and wellbeing.

Health and wellbeing issues are on the rise nationally and the issues are well documented, with issues and struggles such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and social isolation a common complaint for our young people.

A good way to think about our youth clubs is that they are a gateway for support. Youth clubs provide a platform for young people to engage in activities that have a positive effect on their health and well-being. Young people engage in a variety of activities that cover curriculum themes that include sports, arts and media and life skills. Youth workers frequently consult with young people to ensure that their needs are being met and their ideas are being valued. The stimulating and interactive nature of these activities encourages young people to socialise with others and strengthen their friendship groups.  Throughout the youth work process of relationship and trust building young people often feel able to speak about concerns or issues that are affecting their well-being.

A youth club offers a safe and confidential place for young people to talk, a fun and interactive environment where young people can make new friends and we provide opportunities for young people to take part in half term activities such as travelling outside of the city, meeting new people and exploring future aspirations.  Youth workers are able to listen to concerns around well-being and if appropriate signpost or make referrals to more specialist areas of support.

If we cannot offer the right support directly in our clubs and we identify a need, we enable young people to access the specialist support we have on offer at Sheffield Futures and through our network of partners for example, help with substance mis-use, sexual health, one to one support to get young people back on track, support to give young people a voice and emotional and wellbeing support through our Door 43 service.

If you or a young person you know is experiencing any of the issues mentioned here and would benefit from support please reach out to Sheffield Futures. Tel 0114 2012800 or enquiries@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

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

We welcome Government pledge to invest £500m in youth centres

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The Chancellor has pledged £500m over five years for youth centres and services across the country.

Our CEO, Gail Gibbons, responded to the news by saying investment in good quality youth work is needed now more than ever.

Gail, said: “We very much welcome this pledge from the Government to invest in much needed youth services.

“After years of significant cuts affecting youth services in the Sheffield and South Yorkshire region, we hope this latest announcement signals the start of sustained long term investment in youth services.

“In recent years, we have seen the growth in serious youth violence, risk of exploitation and the rise in young people’s mental health and emotional well-being problems.

“We very much look forward to seeing the details behind this pledge and seeing it come to fruition. We are ready and waiting to welcome this investment in our region and to work collaboratively with partners and young people to make the vision a reality in our communities.”

Our charity runs youth clubs across Sheffield and our Community Youth Teams support young people aged ten to 18, through one-to-one support, group work programmes, in youth centres and out in their communities.

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.”

      

Official launch event: Project 0114, tackling child criminal exploitation

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Last night marked the official launch of Project 0114 – the project to tackle child criminal exploitation and associated gun and knife crime across the city. Led by Sheffield Futures and delivered in partnership with organisations across the city, the project, is set up with Home Office funding through Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner.  Project delivery partners are Sheffield City Council, ACT Sheffield, The Unity Gym Project, Broomhall Girls Group, Manor Castle Development Trust, My Life Project, Princes Trust, and Change Grow Live (CGL).

Speaking at the event Dr Alan Billings said ‘When I speak to young people the message is clear that they’re most worried about stabbings nowadays, and that’s got to change.’

‘Criminal gangs are targeting younger people, encouraging them to get involved in criminality. Young people, looking for friendship, are drawn into the gang and through the simple task of carrying a package, may be taking the first steps towards criminal behaviour.’

‘We all need to work together in partnership to educate young people and offer early intervention to ensure they understand the risks and can make good decisions – if approached by organised crime gangs.’ he continued.

Project delivery partners running activities with young people at the event included The Corner, Unity Gym, Sheffield City Council, Broomhall Girls Group, My Life Project and Manor Castle Development Trust as well as Sheffield Futures charity partners GB Boxing who attended to run workshops with young people along with England Netball.

From June onwards, year seven pupils in secondary schools across the city, along with year six children in primary schools in targeted areas, will have six information and skills-based sessions focussed on preventing child criminal exploitation and exploring the effects of knife and gun crime. The series of sessions will be co-delivered by youth workers and specially trained young people in schools.

Young people will be provided with information about how they can seek support to move away from serious youth violence and to understand their rights and responsibilities in this area. This element will form a key strand of the new Violent Crime and Organised Criminality (VCOC) strategy in Sheffield.

A second strand to the programme will see youth work activities delivered for young people in targeted areas to provide safe spaces where they can benefit from the strengths and experience of delivery partners, learning new and inspiring arts, music, media and sports skills. The five areas of the city as identified in the VCOC strategy are Broomhall, North East Sheffield, Manor Castle/Arbourthorne, Burngreave/Pitsmoor and Lowedges.

Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures said, ‘Through Project 0114, we hope to equip our children and young people to be able to steer clear of the serious threat that comes from organised crime, child criminal exploitation and the associated violent crime we are unfortunately seeing become more and more frequent across the city. And, in the areas we know are being targeted by criminals intent on exploiting our young people we hope to engage children in inspiring activities and at the same time offer safe spaces where young people can learn and thrive.’

Spring at Herdings Youth Centre: Art & gardening therapy

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Iain Jones, Youth Worker at Herdings youth club comments on a piece of work that has made life for a young person and their family a little bit brighter.

‘I’ve been encouraging our young people to try and grow things for the community garden at Herdings. We’ve had success with sunflowers, almost 60 germinated, we’ve lost some to the slugs and the hot days but we have loads. We have also been doing some painting and utilising some old pieces of wood and producing small art works on wood, it’s more permanent than paper.

During one of our quiet sessions, which is rare, one of our young ladies was explaining her family circumstances, the family is stuck in a flat with a small balcony and she said things are a bit stressful, Dad’s having mental health problems and is trying to grow some plants as a bit of therapy. So she painted a lovely sun set with clouds and birds with the intention of giving it to Dad. I gave her some sun flowers to give to him. The next week she bounced into the club saying dad was pleased with the sunflowers and he had put her painting in his special place on the balcony and was over the moon with it.’

‘It’s only a simple thing but over the last few months we’ve had problems with crime and vandalism and a near fatal stabbing and it touched me that all this young lady wanted was to just make dad happy.’

Young people fundraising for their youth club!

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Young people who regularly attend Woodthorpe Youth Club, run by Sheffield Futures, have been fundraising to give their youth club a make over. Last weekend, the group took part in a sponsored walk. They took the train to Edale, then completed a 10 mile walk in torrential rain – so much for summer!

Deputy Community Youth Team Manager, John Moloughney, called the group ‘absolute stars!’

  

Woodthorpe Social Action Group haven’t just been walking to raise funds, they’ve been fundraising with bucket collections and taking tins out to their local shops. The group are dedicated to creating a space that’s attractive and safe for all young people in Woodthorpe.

Recently the group were at Woodthorpe Youth Club when PC Briggs came to visit in the van. Obviously the group wanted to sit in the van! It’s great to see the young people interactive with one of the many services working in Woodthorpe and across the city.

 

Finally, here are the group getting the outdoors area looking colourful with potted plants!

  

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.