Didcot TRAIN Youth Project

Group Mentoring

We offer 5 weekly group mentoring sessions based on educating young people of various topics which may be of relevance to them in a group setting. The group environment works really well for strengthening the confidence of those attending in communicating with others, voicing their views and generally learning about how to communicate in a collaborative, respectful manner, being able to bounce ideas off one another.

 

Young Women’s Group

Our weekly Young Women’s Group has been well attended throughout the year. The gender specific sessions aim to offer a safe environment for young women to explore issues relevant to behaviours, thinking patters and conduct, furthering their ability to make informed and constructive choices. The range of themes explored across the workshops offered have been valuable in strengthening the self-esteem of those attending – both in themselves and specific aspects of their lives.  Topics explored across the year include health and well-being, mindfulness, understanding and managing anger, healthy relationships and interview skills.

The young women attending play a significant role in shaping the group and how it runs. At the end of each session, during reflections, the young women discuss what topics they would like to cover in the next week. The preferences of the group and what is delivered is fluid and flexible to the young people’s input and preferences.

Three of the young women who were regularly attending are now in permanent employment and others have built up the confidence to become involved in our Participation Pathway – becoming Young Leaders, Ambassadors or Volunteers. It has been especially brilliant to see two of the women, now Young Ambassadors, having gained the confidence to each lead arts and crafts workshops within the sessions. Others have also demonstrated a motivation to become more involved in the community as well as TRAIN’s activity schedule. A number, for instance, visited a local care home to interact with the elderly residents.

Young Women’s Group Mentoring Case Study

When a certain young woman began attending the Young Women’s group mentoring sessions, she appeared to be a little lost as to which direction she wanted to go in at this point in her life. The young person had been NEET for over half a year and was spending her days hanging out on the streets with her friends or at home in bed. She was feeling increasingly restless about this but was significantly quiet and introverted so did not speak about it a great amount in our initial conversations until we had developed a rapport with her. As the group mentoring sessions have progressed, so has the young person’s confidence, engagement and attainment. She positively contributes to each session and is open about expressing her views and asking many questions. She shows great teamwork skills and is supportive to her peers who attend the sessions, encouraging their participation in group discussions and activities. We have taken the young women to a local alternative education provision called SOFEA which combines practical work skills with essential education. We are extremely proud of her positive engagement with this provision, as she is attending SOFEA regularly and is working towards her Maths and English GCSEs. She has also achieved a Level 2 Qualification with TRAIN's support whilst attending a residential trip with TRAIN, indicating how much she has developed since the beginning of the Young Women's Group.

 

Young Men’s Group

Following the success of the Young Women’s Group, we have also now begun running a Young Men’s Group.  This has a similar purpose the Young Women’s Group of offering a safe space to discuss a range of topical issues but is focused on those likely to be relevant to young men.

The group is now well established and generally going very well. A Young Leader now runs 15 minutes of circle time for young people, to check in with how they are feeling and how their week has been. This offers a valuable opportunity for them to develop listening and communication skills. Those attending have shown brilliant levels of maturity through creating group agreements such as no phones being allowed, just one break, no hitting or verbal abuse etc. If any negative behaviour is demonstrated, the perpetrator is asked to apologise to the whole group, for which they all hold each other accountable.

Topics covered so far in workshops include: drugs and alcohol, relationships, porn, mental health, body confidence, bullying, identity and expectations of male roles. Future topics to be discussed include: social media, sexual health, gaming and gambling and money management.

 

Dinner & Debate

Thanks to Greggs the Bakers, who provide us with fresh food at the end of the business day which would have otherwise gone to waste, we have been able to offer a weekly Dinner & Debate group mentoring session since October.

We then use it as an opportunity both for ensuring the young people have good food that evening and helping create an environment wherein open discussion can take place surrounding a topic or question which is set for the session. This helps to raise awareness about listening and talking with each other respectfully as well as opening young people’s minds to different perspectives and increased understanding.

Sessions have become very popular and are proving effective in their main aim of reducing ASB and other risky behaviours demonstrated by young people in the area. As numbers attending have become particularly high with the group’s success, the decision has recently been made to make the sessions referral and invite only - young people currently attending being registered to come on either a Tuesday or Thursday, approximately 10 having been invited per evening. This will ensure the sessions are more manageable and focused and that the group is not so large as to hinder those who are less confident from participating. If an increase in demand is presented we may look to hold an additional session on a different week night.

Dinner & Debate Group Mentoring Case Study

In February 2019 a young person came to the TRAIN office to inform staff that a group of young people known to TRAIN had vandalised a public community space with graffiti and considerable amounts of litter, suggesting that a clean-up session should be arranged with the group. TRAIN youth workers visited the area to investigate the vandalism, then took the young people back to the location during the next day’s ‘Dinner and Debate’ session to tidy the area together. Those who had not partaken in the vandalism were recognized, although they also assisted in the clear up. Throughout the session the youth worker ensured to discuss the consequences of what may have come of the incident if the Police had found them, to emphasise its seriousness.

Following on from the occurrence further workshops have been carried out during “Dinner and Debate” on anti-social behaviour, including what classes as ASB and the consequences it can entail, to prevent the repeat of ASB incidents and to encourage the young people to engage in alternative positive activities in the future.  The likely related success of this ASB education has already been especially demonstrated through a number of the young people who were involved in the incident voluntarily taking part in Didcot Town Council’s annual litter pick on the 30th March 2019, exemplifying their new perspectives on littering and motivations to now develop more positive, respectful relationships with the local environment and community. Youth workers have been regularly revisiting the area during detached sessions and continue to work with the young people involved, as well as new young people, to discourage them against vandalism and ASB in general.

TOPAZ

In January we also began to run LGBTI sessions in association with LGBTI Youth Group TOPAZ, based in Oxford. The group aims to offer young people a safe space in which to explore their feelings and gain a better understanding of themselves. Although the group is particularly for young people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender, we also welcome young people who are unsure about their sexuality and may be questioning it. 

We are very happy that sessions have been going well so far, being regularly attended by a number of young people. All attending have demonstrated improved understandings of sexuality types and engaged in associated conversations. As the weeks go on we hope for numbers to increase and for those attending to develop greater confidence in discussing their personal views and experiences, enabling us to tailor sessions more relevantly.