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In Celebration of Youth Work #YouthWorkMatters

Tash Bright No Comments

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….

  • 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

 


The theme for this year’s International Youth Day is ‘SAFE SPACES’ something that Sheffield Futures knows all about. For thousands of young people, our youth clubs are a safe space to go, take part in recreational activities, meet and make new friends and learn the skills they need to succeed in life.

This month we are using our sessions in youth clubs to find out what makes a safe space, why young people feel that the youth clubs are a safe space and how they could be improved to be more inclusive, accessible and welcoming.

This case study is part of our new campaign: In Celebration of Youth Work, where celebrating and demonstrating the value of youth work within our communities.

#YouthWorkMatters

Sheffield Parent Talks About Their Child Sexting

Tash Bright No Comments

During our  ‘Let’s Talk About Sexting’ campaign we have looked at a wide range of topics surrounding young people sending and receiving sexual imagery. As our campaign draws to an end, the main thing that has become apparent is that there is so much to consider and it is imperative that we look at the bigger picture. Young people sexting has become a major issue in schools, for families, child exploitation services  and for young people as individuals.  Our society and the technological advances that have led to sexting becoming so common place means that we all must take greater care in understanding why young people sext, the risks of young people sexting and the laws surrounding young people sexting.

Young people’s safety is always and should always be the top priority when sexting laws are put in place or when dealing with child sexual exploitation.  This week we will be focusing on the often forgotten topic of how young people sexting can affect the whole family.  PSHE Association found that 78% of parents were either fairly concerned or very concerned about youth produced sexual imagery. We interviewed local Sheffield parent, Carol, whose fourteen year old daughter had recently been referred to the Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Services after various sexting incidents.

How did you first find out your child was sexting?

She told me. I’m really glad that she can be open with me because it makes me feel less worried that there’s stuff going on that I don’t know about.

5-2

 

How did you feel when you found out your child was sexting?

I was quite horrified. I tried to conceal it but it is very shocking. You just think you can’t relate it to your own youth. You just think, ‘what’s going on’ but apparently that’s what happens. She’s educating me! Everybody is doing it. That’s the way it sounds.

5-8

 

Does it help to talk to other parents?

Yeah it does. I talk to other parents. It is fairly widespread. You don’t want to think that your child unusually precocious. You think if they’re all doing but I still find it shocking.

5-6

 

Why do you think young people sext?

Partly because they can, because there’s the technology available. I think it’s a very sexualised world now. I think of the things that we thought were a bit rude on Top of the Pops and now it’s nothing. They can all get porn on their phones. I find that really sad because before they’re ready for sex, it’s there. Kids are inquisitive aren’t they. I think they have this very sexualised view of other kids and themselves whereas emotionally their miles away from being ready for it. She has had a couple of experiences of sex and she didn’t like it. She knew she wasn’t ready for it. She felt coerced and that put her of for a bit now. There’s a difference between the real thing and looking sexy and people fancying you. Two separate things.

5-5

 

What advice would you have for parents who are concerned their child might be sexting?

She’s always one step ahead of me. Even if I did manage to take her phone away, she’d just find another way of doing it. That’s her territory. I’ve got no way of knowing what’s on there. The thing that really really obviously bothers parents is the thought of them putting images on the web. We’ve talked about it ending up all over the place. I’ve told her what I think about it with things coming up on the news about images being circulated.

5-3

 

Have you learnt about any software that can be used to help monitor your child’s online/phone use?

I wouldn’t have a clue where to start about software to monitor her phone. I don’t have the ability. It’s gone beyond what I can do. We’re not idiots, it’s just so much has come so quickly.

5-7

 

How has working with Sheffield Futures helped you deal with the situation?

I think Sophie has gone through a big change where she’s felt herself a lot more grown up than her peers. She’s quite vulnerable and she’s quite impressed by people who are living what she sees as an exciting lifestyle. There were a couple of episodes where she was brought home by the police in the early hours as she was out with a boy she met from school, so that’s why we were referred by social services to the CSE team and I found it massively helpful. They discuss with Sophie about staying safe and different aspects of drugs, sex and alcohol in a way that Sophie would be telling to get lost. I’m really grateful that we’ve got that support… As a parent, you’re the one responsible for them and you can make errors because you just don’t know where to turn next. The natural thing is to clamp down and say you are not doing that and it just makes it worse but that’s the immediate thing you think you should do. Then you talk to the Sheffield Futures Sexual Exploitation Service team, who have knowledge and experience and you work out a way of dealing with it that is going to be a long term as rather than getting angry. When this thing is confronting you, you just panic and I think it makes a massive difference [to get support] because you could really make it a lot worse.

5-9

 

Has the sexting led to bullying?

There was a situation where she talked about it at school and that got spread around the school and she did find people talking about her and it was out of her control and that really upset her. That thing of other people knowing. Then of course the story gets changed.
5-10

 

Has sexting changed your relationship with your daughter?

I think as a parent it takes a bit of the idyllic parent thing away. You know you have the ‘my little girl’. You just have to grow up about it really and think it’s a thing. It’s there. I think parenting is one long compromise anyway. You have to let go of your own illusions and dreams because it’s the child being safe and happy that matters. That’s all you want.

 

If you have been affected by any aspect of sexting you can get help from the organisations bellow:

Childline – 0800 11 11 or in an online chat athttp://www.childline.org.uk/Talk/Chat/Pages/OnlineChat.aspx

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC – 0808 800 5000, by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, or by texting 88858.

They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

 

 

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.”

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