Developing ‘young person led’ activities
It’s been a busy few months for the Enthusiasm Trust who have been continuing to deliver lots of activities for young people in Allenton. As well as the weekly youth club sessions at St Martin’s Church on Flint Street, they have also been providing weekly outreach and engagement work at the shopping area in Boulton Park, around the MUGA at the end of Wilkins Drive (near to Aldi), outside Merrill Academy on Brackens Lane and along the canal path.
At both the outreach sessions and the youth club itself, Enthusiasm makes sure that young people are made aware that youth mentors are available for half an hour each side of the regular youth club time slot. The mentors can provide advice and further support, and are there for anyone who wants to raise any safeguarding issues they may have.
April to June is a busy time in the school calendar and, for this reason, Enthusiasm has organised fewer trips out this quarter. Instead, enrichment activities have been delivered closer to home, with pizza nights, bike rides, and games on local parks.
These community-focussed youth activities and outreach sessions aim to engage young people and help them to establish wider connections within the local area and find out what’s going on, where and when.
An Enthusiasm spokesperson said: “Community outreach enables us to go out and meet young people where they hang out, whether that be on the streets, in the park, on the canal path or outside school. By showing up regularly around the community, the young people get to know us and feel comfortable asking us questions or talking to us about their issues and how Enthusiasm can help. We’ve found that this approach puts us in touch with some of the harder to reach young people: the loners, or those new to the area or feeling isolated, and those who may be experiencing exploitation. For many, the outreach sessions provide the first gentle step to engaging with the project, attending one of our youth club sessions, or even becoming a volunteer.”
Enthusiasm actively encourages young people from the Allenton Big Local area to become involved in volunteering through a rolling volunteer programme. Volunteering gives young people a chance to develop life skills, offers real life work experience and opportunities to get involved with activities that they can add to their CV, such as event planning, running a tuck shop, cash handling, setting up activities, and preparing leaflets and flyers. As volunteers, young people learn about workplace conduct and expectations and begin to understand what it takes to work successfully as part of a team in a busy and changing environment.
Many of the activities delivered by Enthusiasm in the last reporting period have intentionally been ‘young person’ led. This approach encourages young people to work together and independently to cultivate their ideas and plan a programme of activities, providing a sense of team ownership and pride. Enthusiasm reports that this new approach is working well and increasing engagement.
Here’s what one parent said about the positive impact Enthusiasm has had on their family life: “I have found that since Enthusiasm became involved with my eldest child, they have also helped with my other children as well, both in the youth club and out and about. They have regular youth clubs that they look forward to attending and are involved with other regular activities as well, which they really enjoy being part of. They are talking now about helping out as young volunteers.
“One of the Youth Mentors came and visited me and the children a couple of times when the kids had been acting up a bit. They were really helpful. I’m now being supported by their Family Support Worker and things are starting to improve.”
Enthusiasm has observed that some young people arrive at youth club sessions and activities telling the youth workers that they’ve not eaten. As a result, Enthusiasm has started to supply bottles of water and fresh fruit – usually bananas – to make sure that the young people engaging with them aren’t hungry or thirsty.
According to the mental health charity, Mind, bananas “contain high levels of potassium which is essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain; and if you don’t drink enough water, you may find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly.”
Enthusiasm has seen an improvement in the mood and focus of the young people they have supplied with these healthy refreshments.