|Before I started coming to Youth Club, I didn’t really have any friends to talk to, just adults really. I live in a children’s home and only had other young people in children’s homes to talk to- apart from the adults. This made me feel really lonely- I had just been put into care and I felt really anxious about this. I then started coming to the inters session on a friday night at the youth club. I have now made some friends since coming here and I talk to them, play football, pool, PS4’s and man hunt. I like playing man hunt the most because I used to play this where I used to live and I know all the rules which makes me feel good. I really look forward to coming to youth club- I like it because it finishes quite late and I like that. I find it easy to talk to youth workers because they are relaxed, open and friendly and I really like the quieter ones because I don’t a lot of noise and distractions. Coming here has helped me a lot. I can speak to people, catch up with friends and have fun. Now I feel more relaxed in general and always feel happy.|
|Youth Workers Statement|
|Abs was attending our alternative education provision when he expressed an interest to his support worker in coming to the open access sessions. He had seen the Youth Workers around in the day times and spoken to them about coming along, they gave him the session times and encouraged him to attend. We received a phone call from his support worker to explain that Abs had been really keen to come to the sessions, but that they had some concerns over various factors which made him, and others, particularly vulnerable whilst socialising in an informal setting like this. Abs had recently gone into care due to some extremely difficult circumstances and was starting to cause concerns for the support staff he was living with due to his low mood and general loneliness. The support worker was unable to go into huge detail due to safeguarding/ protection issues, but filled us in enough to let us understand the complex situation he was in, and how this could potentially be a barrier to him attending. We looked at Abs needs in the first instance and saw that he was becoming very isolated, un- socialised and appearing to be feeling extremely low as a result of the changes in his life and having to be in constant 1-2-1 supervision with an adult support worker at all times. Despite knowing the risks that came along with Abs attending the session, we completed a thorough risk assessment in partnership with the support worker to enable him to access the session. Once he began to come, we could see the changes in him almost immediately. He started to smile a lot more and became very chatty with staff. The chatting with staff soon moved on to small conversations with other Young People, which he had not done very much of before. After a few weeks of attending, Abs had built a relationship with a number of Young People from the session, had begun to ask for different activities that he enjoyed and was able to talk to Youth Workers openly about anything he needed to. It was important for Abs to feel independent from his support worker at the same time as being in sight during the session. Youth workers had open and honest conversations and worked alongside the support worker to be able to manage this in a sensitive way which would enable Abs to get the most out of the session. Abs has now been attending the open access session for around 6 months and the positive change we, and the support workers, have seen in this time has been huge. Allowing Abs the space to socialise with peers in a safe and engaging way has contributed to this and he will hopefully continue to develop tools and resilience to be able to cope with the difficult times he will potentially have to face in the future, and as his life begins to hopefully stabilise and become more settled for him.
***Support worker/ children’s home manager feedback for info re: Abs***
I would just like to say the youth work you and your team provide to the young person has been of huge benefit to him. He is in a very precarious position and he could easily become stigmatised and marginalised, he is incredibly vulnerable and as you know needs constant support. I think it would have been very easy for you to have said no to his attending the youth club due to risk and other factors. I think it was very impressive that you were receptive to us working together to formulate a plan to mitigate this, which has enabled the young person to have a very positive experience and enabled him to mix with other young people of his age in a safe, supportive, and structured environment. I think it is fair to say that in my experience of both youth work and residential services, most youth services would not have been so child focused, proactive, or inclusive in their approach and I think this is commendable.