During National Safeguarding Month, we’re calling on all organisations working with young people to pledge to Stop, Look, Listen. For the final week of our #KeepMeSafe campaign, we’re looking closely at what UK Youth are doing to support organisations that work with young people to develop their safeguarding skills. This blog was written by Ruhena Uddin at UK Youth.
Technology, the internet and social media have dramatically changed the way we work, live and communicate. As a result, young people have to deal with a number of new issues.
Our recent research confirmed this. We polled 1,000 18-25 year olds and found that more than 40 per cent of young people think social media only adds to their worries and stress – and more than half of young people said it leaves them feeling under more pressure to keep up with everyone.
Through our FutureProof programme, we are equipping young people to navigate an increasingly complex world (both online and offline) safely.
What we’re doing
Last year, UK Youth launched FutureProof to train youth workers and help provide safe spaces for young people. Working with the Home Office, we led two pilots in Leicester and Ealing and Redbridge. This was extended across the UK with support from the Monday Charitable Trust.
From the early stages of FutureProof training, indicative outcomes show large increases for youth workers’ knowledge and skills. After our training, the percentage of participants with high knowledge on the risks facing young people online increased from 67% to 97%. This increase was also reflected with a growth from 50% to 93% on risks facing young people online.
How it works
Our FutureProof programme is mainly focused on two groups of young people – those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who are particularly vulnerable to extremism or radicalisation. This can include young people who feel isolated and lack a sense of identity to those with low aspirations. Focusing closely on these young people ensures we can reach those who are less likely to receive this support elsewhere.
FutureProof provides training to upskill youth workers to better support these young people to stay safe and cope with uncertainty. It ensures youth workers can help young people build the life skills they need to engage with education, volunteering and employment. By coming together for the training, youth workers also build a supportive peer network. They can then share knowledge within this network to provide further support with the challenges they face.
In addition, we provide youth workers with a selection of sessions that they can use with their young people. The sessions are tailored to the specific needs of their groups. There is a focus on topics such as equality, identity, social media, emotional wellbeing, and relationships. After their training, youth workers will support 20 young people through the FutureProof personal development programme to achieve an ASDAN accredited UK Youth Achievement Award.
Why youth work is the best option
We believe the best channel to reach and understand young people is through youth work. However, we also recognise that local youth workers can feel ill-equipped to provide up to date advice or skills training to young people. Without this, they are unable to address the broad range of new and evolving challenges they face.
With this in mind, we work with our network of community-based youth organisations, upskilling and equipping their youth workers. This ensures that in the short term they will be qualified to deliver training to young people in their area which will have an immediate positive impact on young people. In the long term, youth workers will benefit from up to date knowledge and skills that will enhance delivery of services to young people, and increase their confidence as youth workers.
To date, we have delivered the FutureProof programme to five separate cohorts of youth workers across the UK. We will continue to deliver the FutureProof programme in the coming year, with our strong connections to our network.