Michelle Williams tells the story:
Staffordshire County Council’s Young People’s Service (SYPS) delivers and commissions a wide range of open access services for young people across the county. We work primarily with young people aged 13-19, especially those who are vulnerable or at risk from social disadvantage.
Young role models
For us, Quality Youth Work includes enabling and empowering young people to become role models for others. One powerful way to promote this is by providing training and support for young people to deliver youth programmes within their own communities – and SYPS has professionally trained staff, with the skills to deliver this type of Young Leader programme.
Before setting it up, a Staffordshire team visited Nottingham to meet with a team who had already developed a similar programme, which is linked to the Platinum Youth Achievement Award.
We built the Staffordshire programme around the Award, based on five Challenges:
- Participants complete a Personal Development Plan.
- 30 hours of training, covering: Introduction to Youth Work; Introduction to Safeguarding Children; Equality and Diversity; Democracy and Community Engagement; Planning and Evaluating; Practical; Moving Forward
- Each young leader works in a youth work setting within SYPS for 60 hours or more.
- Participants produce a detailed evaluation of their involvement and progress within the Award.
- The young leaders plan, prepare and give a presentation on their Platinum Award.
The training element is the key to success in any Young Leader programme. Young people need to embrace it and recognise the importance of evaluation and reflection. The first cohort of Young Leaders was a driven group of keen volunteers. By mixing practical and theoretical sessions they gained a rounded knowledge and skill base.
In Cannock, the young leaders opened a Year 6 provision at Cannock Youth Centre. In Rugeley, seven enthusiastic young people ran a successful Year 6 provision, which has now developed into a Year 7 provision. Our experience with the first cohort helped us to develop a detailed training manual and worksheets to support learning.
Making an impact
Of the eight young people who started the programme, four have completed their Platinum Youth Achievement Award – and the others will complete at Christmas.
Locally, we aim to have three Year 6 Activity Clubs up and running in January 2013 to help support the transition into High Schools. County-wide, of the eight districts in Staffordshire, six have started training young leaders, By the end of 2013 we hope to have more than 50 young leaders working in SYPS provisions across the county – all accredited through the Youth Achievement Awards.
Michelle Williams is a Team Leader, Positive Activities, for Staffordshire Young People’s Service.
Click here for more on Youth Achievement Awards.