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Programmes: Youth Voices

 

 

 

Background

The Inner East Youth Project traces its roots back to 1995 when a group of individuals and representatives of voluntary and statutory agencies met to discuss their concerns about the state of youth provision in inner east Belfast.  These meetings helped shape the project and this group were responsible for the 'Something More Than Pool' publication.  This pulled together the views of young people and adults and highlighted the state of play within youth provision in inner east Belfast.

'Something More Than Pool' was the result of a process aimed at engaging young people in a meaningful and constructive way towards the development of a youth strategy for inner east Belfast.  The result of the process confirmed "there was nothing to do and nowhere to go."  It highlighted emphatically the absence of formal and informal consultative processes and structures.  Furthermore, it stated that young people were excluded in their own neighbourhoods.  Than an untapped asset of the area was the young people who live in it.  And that young people were waiting to play a part in its social economical regeneration.

 

Context

The beginning of this new century cannot but generate reflections of the past wondering, perhaps with some trepidation, about what holds for the future.  In the past decade rapid changes in personal, social, political and economic circumstances and transformations in communication systems which allow instant access to each other as well as interactive information on a world wide scale, means that the experiences and expectations of youth are very different from those of previous generations.  Influences on social policy by the radical right, for eighteen years, prompted changes in attitudes towards welfare, education, health, employment and housing, based upon a free market economy which encouraged the pursuit of individualism and morality of 'God helps those who help themselves'.  This was justified and off-set by small doses of magnanimous philanthropy for the deserving poor.

Thus the socialising experience of youth in recent times has been of a widening gap between rich and poor, fanned by the flames of commercialism which for many set unattainable targets, giving rise to the social exclusion of a significant group of young people.

Considering the implications of social policy for youth work and the youth service, it has been argued that social policy places young people centre stage in ways that prevent them from appearing themselves, but instead within categories convenient to policy makers.  'Youth Policy' is often characterised by a shopping list of issues irrelevant to the real needs of young people.  Smith (1997) states: "the price of advance into the future is to change.  The established youth service is it's own worst enemy, fearful of the future and over-protective practice well past it's sell by date."

As an innovative community based voluntary youth organisation, and in the context of the above, Inner East Youth Project strives to break new ground, convey confidence in young people, develop models of good practical delivery and promote the methodology of informal education, with young people - through making contact and creating opportunities specific to the needs of young people, who do not attend traditional modes of existing provision, identified as an untapped asset of the area.  Differentiating ourselves from other providers within the inner east Belfast area by working in partnership with marginalized young people.  Young people who have been waiting to play a part in their community's social and economic regeneration.

Our continued work, vast array of practical experience, knowledge of the area and an holistic understanding of the economic status of its inhabitants, provides us with essential credentials in addressing the identified specific needs of marginalized individuals and groupings of young people within the community.

 

AIMS

 

To explore and address the barriers to including young people in matters relevant to them and their community.

To create discussion between young people and community representatives/groups

OBJECTIVES

Identify training programmes for young people relevant to highlighting the community's attention to their particular needs

Develop a youth structure and support system through which young people can advocate on their own behalf.

Facilitate the creation of intra and inter-community groupings, (ie youth, adults, community reps, etc), for the benefit of young people to address specific needs.

Provide workshops for adults/community reps to raise their awareness of young peoples needs and how to create opportunities to address those needs.

The Generation V/IEYP programme places great emphasis on the training and learning the young people will undoubtedly achieve through the many opportunities provided in the programme.

Objective One

Identify training programmes for young people relevant to highlighting the community's attention to their particular needs.

In looking at the five phases in the training cycle IEYP will utilize all aspects to initiate the opportunity for development in the young people.

Training Cycle

Training can be viewed as a cyclical process which is ongoing.  There are five distinct phases in the cycle, all of which logically follow on from the previous stage.

  1. Analysing training needs

  2. Planning and designing the training approach

  3. Developing the training materials

  4. Delivering the training

  5. Evaluating the training

For the IEYP evaluation throughout the programme is an ongoing process, in order to continually refine and improve the training.

The five stages which relate to objective one in the proposal in more detail;

Analysing training needs:

1.    Needs at community level

Where in the community is training most needed.

2.    Needs at group level

What is needed for each group

What is needed in terms of skill, knowledge and attitude so that various issues can be effectively and completely addressed.

3.    Needs at individual level

Who needs training in what?

What is needed by individuals to bridge the competency gap between where they are now and where they should be in terms of skill, knowledge and attitude.

The exact relative importance of the three areas are that they will involve the identification of the people to be trained and the competency gap to be bridged.

 

The area:

The Newtownards Road is a highly populated inner city area overshadowed, in many ways, by the giant cranes and massive workshops of the once thriving Harland & Wolff Shipyard.

 

The community:

The people who make up the Newtownards Road community are from a proud and loyal pedigree. A pedigree that consisted of valued principles and moral ethics, where everyone had / has a place / position. i.e.

    Father / male = breadwinner
    Mother / female = housewife, look after children
    Children = to be seen and not heard

 

The need:

For young people, in the mid-lower Newtownards Road area, opportunities for them to voice their opinions, and be listened too are limited, some may even say none existent.

The aim:

To explore and address the barriers to include young people having more decision making powers on issues that effect them in the Newtownards Road area of east Belfast.

The focus group:

Ten young protestant males aged between 15 - 18, from the Newtownards Road area of east Belfast.

The delivery:

Planning
Training    skills    -    knowledge    -    attitudes
Participative Activities
Investigate areas of good practice
Identify key community reps
Meet key community reps

The outcomes:

Whilst highlighting the issues to key community representatives the young people gained and developed a range of social skills ranging from communication, seeing it from anothers point of view, to assertiveness and understanding how groups work.

The conclusion:

Over the course of this specific programme it has been clearly evident that young people from the mid - lower Newtownards Road feel a sense of isolation within their own community.

For the ten young males who participated there has been a learning experience coupled with a feeling of frustration.

A frustration with the community, the community structures and systems, those who 'represent' it and the formal education system for not 'preparing them for life' in the real word.

This programme has enabled those who participated to look at how they could best eradicate the barriers to including young people having more decision making powers on issues that effect them in the mid-lower Newtownards road.

The Thanks

Patsy Laverty    CDW-DART

Michael Briggs    CDW-DART

Bobby Ellison    Community Affairs

Gareth McKeown    Community Affairs

Matt Milligan    GEB Youth Strategy

South and East Belfast Partnership Boards

George Newell    CDW-BACS

David McMurray    YP

Craig Downes    YP

Noel Algie    YP

Thomas Calvert    YP

Creig Morton    YP

Chris Hawkes    YP

Craig Hill    YP

Glenn Upton    YP

Johnny Brown    YP

Paul Laverty    YP

 

The Recommendations

Focus on developing social and life skills when working with young people and the community.

Meaningful Participation - (no tokenism)

Understanding and greater recognition of the context in which young people survive/live/develop.

Initiate courses/meeting to explore the values of those who work with young people and formulate meaningful and developmental processes which enable personal and community development. 

 

 

 

2000  Inner East Youth Project

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Last modified: 15 October, 2001