The theme of 'Youth Services' chosen by the National Youth Agency as the focus of Youth Work Week this year has been a fantastic opportunity for all to explore why young people need great youth work and great youth work services. This theme has also given our team here at Didcot TRAIN Youth Project an opportunity to reflect upon the wide variety of youth work practice we have delivered since the Charity began.
Didcot TRAIN Youth Project first began to operate in 2002. Our name is an acronym, drawn from our guiding principle which is - To Reach out And INteract with young people. TRAIN works with and for all young people in Didcot, especially those who, for whatever reason, are having a tough time. Young people can become vulnerable and disadvantaged in a whole range of ways. TRAIN is there to help them to see they do have options. TRAIN helps the young people in Didcot make informed choices, avoid risky behaviours, find ways out of difficult situations, find their own voices, and be who they want to be.
Our work is primarily focused on those in the 11 to 18 age range, our professional youth workers and team of volunteers establish relationships with young people and build trust in order to try to understand their needs. We can then offer help and support with any challenges the young people face and if appropriate, put them in contact with other relevant services. Through building a positive rapport with the young people, we are also able to find out what young people like to do and offer ways in which they can develop stimulating and positive interests in their leisure time and provide them with the opportunity to explore a wide variety of alternative activities to engage in.
Our core form of youth work which we are proud to deliver is Detached youth work, this means heading out to meet young people where they are rather than the young people coming to us to access our provision. On a typical winter evening, this would mean heading our with plenty of hot chocolate and blankets around the popular spots with the young people and building a positive rapport with them. TRAIN also frequently does outreach, such as in the summer when we take our TRAIN Gazebo with us, plenty of beanbags, games, squash and activities and engage with young people. In addition, we deliver fun-packed holiday programmes each school holiday. This summer we delivered an activity or trip every work day of the week, these activities ranged from Zorb Football, Sports activities, Yoga, Well-being and Mindfulness, Music Workshops, International Cooking Workshops, Trip to RUSH Trampoline Park, Trip to Thorpe Park, Trip to Corby Skate Park and much more.
Young People are at the very core of what we do, we believe this is essential in effective youth work practice and have a team of Young Ambassadors who sit in a strategic position in line with our Trustees of the Charity. This summer TRAIN were able to TRAIN take 6 young people including some of our Young Ambassadors to France for a week long residential; the purpose of the trip was to offer vulnerable young people an opportunity to challenge themselves mentally, physically and socially in a completely new environment. During their stay on the olive farm surrounded by mountains and acres of farmland the young people woke up at 7am every day to do stone picking followed by different activities in the afternoon such as canyoning, zip wire, swimming, scuba diving, hiking and more! They also tried new foods such as snails, wild bore, French cheeses and venison which was shot within the grounds! It was an amazing experience and we are very proud with what the young people were able to achieve in just a week.
At TRAIN we also encourage our young people to embark on Oxfordshire Youth's Young Leaders Programme which involves typically a 2 night residential trip, this year alone we have taken 14 young people onto the course with us. The Young Leaders Programme results in a Level 2 Award in Leadership and Team Skills, and is accredited by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM). The programme is nationally recognised, meaning that employers, colleges and universities will hold it in high regard. It’s also equivalent to an A*-C at GCSE. Many of our young people are also encouraged and supported in completeing their V-Inspired Certificates for the wonderful efforts they put in whilst volunteering at TRAIN.
In addition to our Detached and Outreach Youth Work, our activities and trips, we also offer targeted both 1:1 and Group Mentoring sessions. At present we run a weekly group mentoring session, this gender group will be aimed at all young people who identify as females aged 11-18 years. The group will provide an opportunity for the young people to engage in workshops covering a wide variety of topics detailed below and to engage in a wide variety of positive and empowering activities in a safe and nurturing environment. Each month, we will be covering a different topic with the young people, some elements will be hands on and interactive whilst other elements might take the form of a discussion. Topic will be chosen on a flexible basis based on the young people’s interests, if the young people would like to spend more or less time on certain topics then there will be capacity for this. The topics covered include future career building skills, body-image, drugs and alcohol, life-hacks, gender and society, cyber-safety, bullying, basic DIY, exploring creativity, and much more.
At present we offer a range of fun and engageing activities for the young people to get involved in, in addition to the above, we currently also deliver a weekly football session, a weekly music production session whilst teaming up with a local organisation, we deliver the S-Card scheme to ensure that the young people have access to free contraception and information and advice about healthy relationships, we deliver detached youth work four times a week, and more.
We have worked hard to build an excellent relationship with the young people and we are continuously engaging with more and more young people. Between April 2017 and October 2017 alone, we are proud to have delivered 557 hours of detached youth work, we have engaged with 328 Young People, we have improved the health and wellbeing of 271 young people, we have supported 87 young people to sustain or access employment, education or training, we have reduced anti-social behaviour in 197 young people, we have referred 166 young people to specialist agencies, we have supported 63 young people in reducing substance mis-use, and we have improved the confidence of 143 young people.
Feel free to take a look at some of our favourite quotes from our young people are below:
"I just reckon, it's an amazing job that the youth workers actually do. Because they come out of detached and actually sit there and put effort in to helping you no matter what. So, I don't feel like there is enough of them, we need to get some more." - TRAIN Young Person
To find out more about Youth Work Week, check out the National Youth Agency site here: http://www.nya.org.uk/supporting-youth-work/youth-work-week/