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In Celebration of Youth Work

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By Gail Gibbons, Sheffield Futures Chief Executive Officer

Last month, Lloyd Russell-Moyle – MP for Brighton Kemptown, introduced a private members bill to Parliament which aims to impose a duty on local authorities to provide a minimum level of youth services. At the same time, the All Parliamentary Group for Youth Affairs, launched an inquiry on the role and sufficiency of youth work.

The response from statutory and voluntary organisations working with young people has been wide-ranging and heartfelt.

Research shows that between 2010 and 2018 more than 600 youth centres have been lost from local communities and that funding for youth work has fallen by 60% during the same time period.

The number of degree level youth work courses has fallen to their lowest level in a decade, and youth work training budgets have shrunk because of the priority towards training of related professions – particularly social work.

The impact of sustained under-funding has had a devastating effect on both the youth work profession, and on young people themselves – especially the most disadvantaged.

Since 2010, youth work has to all intents and purposes dropped off the national policy agenda. Responsibility has moved from the Department for Education – first to the Cabinet Office, and now to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – divorcing youth work from the wider young people’s policy agenda – including policy for vulnerable groups.

The government has also dropped its commitment to a three year stand-alone youth policy statement, and youth work is rarely, if ever, mentioned in government announcements or communications.

Meanwhile, the government has invested heavily in a range of new young people’s enrichment initiatives – the most high profile being the National Citizen Service (NCS) and the #IWill young people’s social action (volunteering) campaign. Whilst these initiatives undoubtedly enrich young people’s lives through building skills and confidence – as delivery partners for both initiatives, Sheffield Futures can vouch for that – they can in no way replace youth work; and there is evidence to suggest that not enough disadvantaged young people are being reached through these programmes.

Sheffield Future’s approach to work with young people is based on core youth work principles wherever possible. Our approach is relationship based – recognising the need to build up trust with young people over a sustained period of time; it is strengths based – identifying young people’s assets and building on them; it is flexible – working with young people at their own pace which is not always linear; it is co-produced with young people – young people usually have the solutions; and it utilises enrichment activities as a means of engagement.

Good quality youth work is more necessary now than ever before. In these times of austerity, young people are facing unprecedented challenges in the navigation of their daily lives.

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 have also seen the struggle for many young people to achieve at school and to gain meaningful employment, and to engage in positive activities outside formal education settings. Young people themselves tell us about the daily pressures they feel under.

A youth workforce that is skilled and equipped to engage and support young people is in high demand. Increasingly, local authorities, schools, the police and health services are recognising the unique skillset youth workers bring to the table in addressing some of the most difficult and complex societal challenges. It is ironic then that funding to develop and sustain the workforce is on the decline.

With this in mind, Sheffield Futures is committed to celebrating youth work and everything it brings.

We firmly believe that both open access youth work, at youth clubs, and targeted support using a youth work model, are essential pieces of a partnership approach to supporting young people towards a better future.

Our young people led campaign over the coming months is all about the celebration of youth work and showing what it can offer. We invite you to show your support by….

  • Joining us at our International Youth Day celebration (free fun for all the family: 12.30 – 3.30pm on Friday 10th August at Ice Sheffield.)
  • Sharing the following message on social media: Since 2010, funding to vital youth services has been cut, with 600+ youth centres closed. This is having a devastating effect on disadvantaged young people. At @SheffFutures we want to celebrate youth work and all of its fantastic achievements. See: www.sheffieldfutures.org.uk/in-celebration-of-youth-work
  • Running a fundraiser to help Sheffield Futures to continue delivering quality youth work to young people in Sheffield city region. Every penny you raise will help Sheffield Futures to transform lives and create positive futures.
  • Pledging to be a Sheffield Futures Ambassador and raising awareness of their work by making key introductions, sharing their messages, attending events and more.

Contact us, email: marketing@sheffieldfutures.org.uk or call: 0114 201 8647

 

Funding plea for young people’s mental health and wellbeing zone

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Sheffield Futures, Sheffield’s young people’s charity is looking for support to help deliver a new much needed health and wellbeing zone as part of the Door 43 service which currently provides vital support for 13 – 25 year olds with mental health challenges. The new health and wellbeing zone is an essential addition which will make the Star House venue which currently hosts Door 43 fully fit for purpose.

With half of all mental health conditions appearing in young people before the age of 14 and one in four adults suffering a mental health problem in any given year, new services like Door 43 are heralded nationally as the way forward.

Commenting on the new health and wellbeing zone development, Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures says, ‘We have now begun work on phase one of a new health and wellbeing zone for young people, based at Sheffield Futures’ city centre venue Star House. Sheffield Futures has received incredibly generous grant funding from the Department of Health and we are looking for match-funding to complete the full build.’

‘We have seen very encouraging results from Door 43 so far and it’s really heartening to see the positive impact we’re having on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of Sheffield’s young people.’

‘We know that young people can be put off accessing mental health services as they associate these environments with the stress and anxiety that is often fuelling their issues.

The new health and wellbeing zone will offer a safe and welcoming space for young people to openly talk about their feelings and access early preventative support in a completely neutral environment where they can literally get away from it all, clear their head and become ready to access the support they need.’

‘So, we are reaching out to the business community to help us deliver this much needed resource for young people in Sheffield who need it most.’ She continues.

Door 43 integrates a range of health and wellbeing support under one roof, giving young people the flexibility they need in terms of access to different specialist support services such as counselling and other psychological therapies, awareness and advice work, health clinics, signposting and mechanisms for referral for those who require specialist mental health assessment. It is this preventative approach that aims to stop young people from requiring expensive, statutory, crisis-led interventions that often come when the damage has already been done.

When talking about how the Door 43 service has helped him, Darren Jenks a young person who has accessed Door 43 in the past said, “Door43 is a place I can go and offload about what has happened in my week. I don’t feel judged by the staff; they are all so easy to talk to. I feel like having that space every week makes a massive difference to my mood.” 

“When I’ve got loads of stuff going on in my head, I can book in to see someone at Door43 and they help me to make sense of it all and we can make a plan together and I feel so much better.”

All those interested in discussing how they can offer financial or other support should contact Tash Bright at Sheffield Futures on 0114 2018647 or email: marketing@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

Take the Youth Cabinet’s Mental Health Survey!

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Sheffield Youth Cabinet have started a survey about young people and mental health – to see whether schools and the government are doing enough and where young people go when they are looking for support. If you are 19 or under and would like to be involved, please take the survey here.

A love letter to yourself

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I have been working with a young woman for two months at Door43. When she first came to the service she was feeling very low in self confidence and would quite often say things to put herself down. I could see that she is a fantastic person and has many assets, but instead of reminding her about her achievements I wanted her to recognise them herself. She asked me if there was anything she could be doing over Christmas to practice self-care, and I set her a challenge of writing a love letter to herself.

At first she laughed at me and said this is “way too cheesy”, but eventually I convinced her to give it a go and even if she came back to see me in January with one point, it would be a great achievement.

She came back after the Christmas break with the following list and said it was really difficult, and at times she struggled to write the points down, but that now she has done it, she is proud. She plans to use the letter every time she is having a rubbish day or feeling a bit off, when she re-reads it she can remind herself of how amazing she is and the best bit is that these points have all come from her.

 

Dear you, I love you because:

You are amazing. Even if you don’t believe that, it is true. You need to believe in the people around you and trust them on this fact.

You are helpful when your friends are down. You always put your friends first. You’re always there to talk to and always happy to help them.

You are confident. Stop hiding behind this shy person and show people who you really are.

You never give up on yourself. You try as many times as you need to to succeed. Keep going.

You don’t let your mental health define you. Instead, you make it a part of your life and you now want to work with teenagers who have mental health issues, which is great!

You are brave. You have gone through so much in 2017. You were in hospital with no idea what to do and you became this brave person and got through it.

You are funny. You always make people laugh; no matter what mood they’re in.

You are determined. You have dreams that you will never give up on.

You are good company; you are always lovely to be around. You keep everyone in good mood and spirits, even when you are down.

You are the most organised person I know – this is a good thing. You have everything you need at all times – this is not a bad thing!

You are always early and if you were ever late you would panic like mad.

You are friendly and kind to everyone even if you don’t know them. You take the time to talk to everyone around you even if they are the opposite of you.

You are a hard worker. You always give 100% to any work you get given, if even if you don’t really feel like it.

You are creative, you knit, create and enjoy arts and crafts and you need to carry being creative as it’s a part of you.

You are a whizz at jigsaws, you love doing them to music.

You are beautiful with or without make up. You always wear make up to hide who you are when really you are beautiful like a rainbow.

You set your heart on something and you do it.

You are a star, you’re a star in lots of people’s eyes for different reasons (mainly good, so keep being the star you are).

You are you and that’s fine.

“Today is going to be a good day and here’s why. Because today, no matter what else, today, at least you’re you. No hiding, no lying, just you. And that’s enough.”

Love, me. x

World Mental Health Day at Door43

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A new emotional wellbeing service for Sheffield’s young people launches today, Tuesday 10th October, on World Mental Health Day 2017.

The youth information, advice and counselling service which will be known as Door43, will offer Sheffield’s 13 – 25 year olds support on a range of social, emotional, practical and health related issues.

Door43 will act as an accessible drop in service which doesn’t rely on referrals and acts as an informal and safe space where Sheffield’s young people can gain confidential support and advice on a range of issues.

‘With Door43 we’re aiming to provide an informal space where young people feel welcome, involved and ultimately feel that they are in an environment with their peers where they are able to discuss and access support on a range of issues if indeed they feel they want to do so.’ Says Gail Gibbons Sheffield Futures CEO.

‘With stress, anxiety and depression on the rise for young people in Sheffield and the UK, having a safe, casual space which acts as a drop in service and that doesn’t carry the stigma a or practical considerations of a professional referral could make all the difference for a worried or distressed young person.’ She continues.

Door43 at Sheffield Futures on Division Street is staffed by youth workers, counsellors, substance misuse workers, sexual health workers, careers advisors, volunteers as well as peer supporters.

Young people can drop in at Door43, Sheffield Futures, Division Street, Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm, Tuesday until 7pm and on a Saturday 9.30am – 1pm.

You can find out more about the activities and workshops here.

For those that would rather, there is also the option to book appointments.

If you know a young person or young people that you feel may benefit from the service you can refer them to the service by calling 0114 201 2774.

 

Door43 Information for Professionals Sessions

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Door43 is a new Youth Information, Advice & Counselling Service (YIACS) based at Sheffield Futures. We offer holistic emotional wellbeing support for young people aged 13-25 in Sheffield.

Come and meet the team, see the service, and find out more about what Door43 has to offer!

Join us for an informal information session on how we support young people, and how to make referrals or support young people to access our service. Find out more about the service before you visit.

Book on to one of the following dates via Eventbrite:

Thursday 30th November, 10.30-11.30 at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division St, S1 4GE

Thursday 15th February 2018, 10.30-11.30 at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division St, S1 4GE

Thursday 17th May 2018,  10.30-11.30 at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division St, S1 4GE

Fun Palace – THIS SATURDAY!

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The Door43 are running a Fun Palace this Saturday at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division Street, S1 4GE. Our theme is sex and sexual health!

Saturday 7th October 10.30-12.30

Join us for: cake decorating, arts and crafts, card games and more to informally learn about sex, sexual health & porn, in a fun and young person friendly environment. It is FREE! Come along and take the taboo out of talking about sex!

We will have a health and wellbeing worker available on the day for one-to-one screening, information and advice. Find out more about our event or book your place here

The Fun Palace is a national event, encouraging people to learn but also have fun at the same time.

We advise that anyone attending is over the age of 13.

Our new Wellbeing Cafe!

Tash Bright No Comments

Door43 welcomes you to the

WELLBEING CAFE

Every Tuesday, 5pm – 7pm

at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division St, S1 4GE.

Are you a young person aged between 13 and 25? Come and join us for games, arts and crafts, film nights and much more!

…or if that’s not your thing, simply drop in for a chat over a brew and biscuits.


For more information, email: door43@sheffieldfutures.org.uk or call: 0114 201 2774

Follow us on Instagram for daily updates!

Young people joined Paul Blomfield MP for a Big Conversation

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Members of Sheffield’s Youth Cabinet and UK Youth Parliament joined young people at Sheffield Futures for a Big Conversation with Paul Blomfield MP. The Big Conversation is an annual community consultation with a variety of audiences.

On 20th September, the Big Conversation came to Sheffield Futures on Division Street for a special event for young people. Youth Councillor for East Sheffield, Fozia Sultana, chaired the event, helping young people to form and ask questions about the issues that matter to them.

The conversation tackled big issues such as ‘making the invisible, visible’. This is one of the issues on the current youth consultation Make Your Mark, aimed at helping invisible illnesses be more recognisable, through better education. Fozia Sultana said: “There should be more opportunities for support when people are suffering with illnesses which are physically invisible.”

The groups spoke about issues facing young carers, many of whom do not realise that they are carers. One young person said: “there should be more support from the Government for young carers, both emotional and physical support. One practical way that young carers could be helped is with free or heavily discounted travel passes, this would be one less thing for young carers to think about.”

 One young person said: “We need a more diverse curriculum. Schools needs to include LGBT+ in sex education lessons, and to have a focus on emotional relationships, not just physical.”

 The conversation also focussed on mental health, with one young person describing their experiences of mental health services. They said: “In the past I gave up trying to access mental health services because there isn’t enough provision for everyone who needs it. There also needs to be a way for young people to access support at earlier stages, rather than when they’re at crisis point.”

Paul Blomfield MP listened to the young people, and said: “I have been given a completely new insight about young people’s mental health which I have never understood before and this has been very useful.”

After calling the event very interesting, Paul concluded: “A common theme in the discussions has been changes to the curriculum to prepare young people for life. Schools are currently measured by success in exam league tables and we could help to instruct schools to include education about life skills young people need for their futures.”

 “Your voice is a very important part of setting my priorities. Thank you all for contributing and your time.”

World Suicide Prevention Day

Tash Bright No Comments

This post was written by Kate, Sue and Dave from the charity SToRMS.

SToRMS stands for Strategies To Reduce Male Suicide.

SToRMS is a small organisation based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and set up in July 2015. It is a fund within the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, a registered charity. SToRMS was set up in memory of Dan McAllister who unexpectedly took his own life in May 2015 aged nineteen.


Recent ONS statistics showed that in 2016, 5,668 people died by suicide in Great Britain. This represents a fall from over 6,000 across the last 6 years, however there is still work to be done. Of these deaths, 24% were women and 76% were men.

As many of you will know, SToRMS was set up in July 2015, after we lost Dan McAllister to suicide. Over the two years since that day, we have heard from many other families and loved ones who have lost their son, daughter, or friend in the same way. Although each person has their own unique story, one thing is constant: every single death was preventable.

The societal shifts we need to see are not simple. It is not just a case of increased funding to ensure that access to mental health services is faster, or more effective. We also cannot just focus on suicide prevention training for medical professionals, university lecturers or other staff regularly dealing with “High Risk” groups. Moreover, anti-stigma campaigns will not make a difference without other changes. All of these things cannot happen in isolation. The problem is far bigger than that.

Today, we want to talk about something that our initiatives have not really covered thus far. This is the impact of a death by suicide on family and friends. This aspect of suicide prevention tends to go unacknowledged, but in fact the people immediately affected by suicide are at significant risk of taking their own lives themselves.

When someone you love dies it is devastating. When they die by suicide however, the emotions experienced by those left behind are intense, particularly as the way their loved one died is often traumatic, or sudden. Everyone deals with grief differently. After Dan died, as a family we all hurtled between anger, devastation, guilt and numbness. There were days when we couldn’t do anything but cry if we even tried to speak. So we stayed silent. Dan died away from us whilst at University. Some universities and emergency services provide support to families who have been bereaved by suicide. We cannot speak for others, but the support we received was provided by the incredible people at CRUSE Sheffield. Apart from that, we had each other.

The recent deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington sparked a social media frenzy, which ranged from messages of condolence, to diatribes about how someone could be so selfish. For the record, saying suicide is selfish completely misunderstands the mind-set of someone who is suicidal. It implies that this individual felt that they had other options, other than to take their own life. This is simply not true.

Across the world, 800,000 people die by suicide every year. The pain that the ones left behind feel is enduring. It changes people, it breaks up families, and it leaves you questioning what the point is. Then there is the stigma. From a personal perspective, we decided early on that we would choose to be open and honest about how Dan died wherever possible. We decided that the last twenty minutes of his life did not define him. But people are scared to talk about suicide. This is not malicious, but borne out of uncertainty. Talking about it is painful, yes. But not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. When someone you love dies by suicide, that knowledge is always there, in the back of your mind. In the early days, it is all consuming. It is the first thing you think about when you wake up. You think about it when you are paying for your shopping at the supermarket. Then, when you are trying to sleep, images flood into your mind. Sometimes it can be terrifying. As time goes on, that reality becomes more normal. For us, it hasn’t become less painful, however it does become less of a shock. But we never forget. When you lose a loved one to suicide, one of the most constant emotions you feel is confusion. Part of it is pure disbelief that someone you love could make that “decision”. We have slowly come to realise that what got us here was a chain of events, emotions, or actions that we will probably never truly understand. But that doesn’t stop you asking, “why?”

We set up SToRMS because we wanted to make changes within our community and in wider society which might have changed the outcome for Dan, and therefore might do the same for others. Dan had no diagnosed mental health problems, and although we knew he was stressed and occasionally unhappy, when we tried to encourage him to seek help beyond our family, he reassured us that he was okay. We believe therefore that if Dan had felt able to open up and tell us or anyone about how he was feeling, the outcome might have been different. Moreover, if we had asked the right questions and facilitated conversations, the same could be true. Often, we think that if someone is suicidal it will be obvious. Stereotypical representations of depression or anxiety encourage us to believe that if someone we knew was considering taking their own life, we would be able to recognise it, and intervene. For us, it wasn’t like that. With Dan, every statement of frustration, or self-deprecation was accompanied with a smile, or if we asked him what he meant, he would brush us off. But, with the benefit of hindsight, we are beginning to recognise the subtle signs that we missed.

This is why we place such emphasis on the community element of suicide prevention. We believe that everyone has a role to play. There is fantastic work currently being done by charities such as Papyrus, CALM, and If U Care Share. We are currently working on our contribution, which will centre on workshops which are for everyone. Inspired by the approach of MHFA training courses, our initiative, ‘Wise Talkers’, will aim to equip people with the skills to deal with difficult conversations, to be able to direct people towards further help and support if necessary, but perhaps most importantly, to practice self-care throughout this. We are excited to launch these initiatives in the coming year.

This year, the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day is:

Taking a minute can change a life.”

This core principle underwrites the work that we fund and provide across Sheffield. We believe that everyone has the capacity to offer support to someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. Here are some key things to remember:

  1. Ask the question directly: “Are you thinking about taking your own life?”. This will not make someone more likely to take their own life, in fact, it might reconnect them, and give them the opportunity to voice what they are feeling and experiencing.
  2. This is the most important thing you can do. Don’t try and jump in with answers, as this may cause them to shut down. Also, try to avoid saying that you understand. Often this comes from a good place, but the reality is that you can’t truly understand because you are not them. Instead, acknowledge and validate that what they are feeling or experiencing is difficult.
  3. Do not judge them. This is not just about avoiding saying something, but it’s also about your body language, and expression. Try and be as relaxed as possible, and don’t panic if they say something which concerns you. Respond calmly and clearly. You might also feel uncomfortable, but try not to let that show.
  4. Let them know that you are there. Making someone feel less alone is key to reducing the risk that they might take their own life. Also, don’t just say it, act on it. Text them to find out how they are, invite them to do things. Say that you are there to listen, but equally you can just be with them to watch a film, or get a takeaway. The small gestures really do make a massive difference.
  5. Look after yourself. Supporting someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts can be exhausting, and you must make sure that you have support yourself. If you feel that it is becoming overwhelming, try and encourage them to seek other help. But, don’t assume that someone else will do a better job than you. Chances are, if that person has been able to talk to you, you will be able to help them in some way. They may value your opinion and support. Have confidence in your ability. Saying something wrong is far better than saying nothing at all.

In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, we ask you to act according to these principles. There might be someone in your life that you haven’t spoken to for a while, but keep meaning to contact. You might know someone who is having a hard time. Start those conversations today. You really could save a life.

Also, light a candle to remember Dan, and all those beautiful, brilliant people who we have lost to suicide. We can make a difference together.

Thank you for reading,

Kate, Sue and Dave.

https://iasp.info/wspd2017/

http://stormsdmc.org


For anyone who has been affected by this post, and would like to talk about it more, please visit our new wellbeing service, Door43. If you are looking for help, we are here to listen.

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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.