Seminar Notes and Feedback

 

The Future of Services for Young People Seminar - 27/9/11
St Thomas Centre, Ardwick Green, Manchester
National Citizen Service
The first year presented by The Challenge Network

How has NCS fitted with Young Peoples’ Services in your area?
Key points
The main issues that came out of this discussion were the importance of working with local providers both LA and VCS and linking in at a strategic level so NCS becomes part of the offer, not the only ‘show in town’. Challenge has tried to get away from this by emphasising this is more than just a summer project– it has to go beyond this. Partnership is key in making this happen, if providers have some buy in, this should happen.
Emphasis was put on young people leading on the design, implementation and evaluation at NCS. Meeting people from different backgrounds giving educational and empowerment opportunities to young people is one of the benefits of the programme along with working together for their communities.
Other things that helped make schemes successful were:
-          Young people helping to recruit.
-          Some staff integrated it into their provision.
-          Making sure referrals were right time and right place.
-          Working with Youth Services for recruitment.
-          Worked with Connexions.
-          Understanding it Is one of a series of opportunities for young people.
-          Challenge worked with existing groups to try and give opportunities to as many young people as possible.
-          Investment in as wide a range of young people, as possible.
-          It is a great opportunity to meet different people, but there are still concerns that many of the most excluded young people are not being included.
-          Building relationships and trust through quite intensive work.
-          Challenge found that small organisations got involved when they saw benefits to young people they work with and they felt listened to and involved. Respect their expertise!
-          Acknowledging local differences and understanding that not one model for all.

Concerns
There were a wide range of concerns aired and as not all the participants had had the opportunity to see NCS working this is not surprising.
-          Services resistant to it as it replaces posts/projects eg PAYP
-           Not always felt ownership, although NCS is not in competition it sometimes appears to ‘replaces staff that been seen as successful’
-          Passing young people on doesn’t work as good youth work depends on good positive relationships
-          Takes a lot of investment from individual workers and services don’t see outcomes.
-          It has been a challenge for local projects to help link young people to the NCS during a time of significant change.
-          Not knowing about it, keep it local.
-          It not linking to other existing programmes - be more strategic.
-          Is it additional or instead of existing young work funding?
-          Feeling that it hasn’t fitted in some areas.
-          Feeling that providers targeted and marketed to schools rather than youth services and VCS organisations.
-          Follow on volunteering infrastructure needed.
-          Lack of clarity (finding out who is delivering)
-          Last minute recruitment requested through existing networks.
-          Little progression (known) after initial meetings.
-          Curriculum restrictive (need to be more responsive).
-          Question raised about value for money (per head).
-          Can local networks have future involvement in the direction.
-          With VCF sector struggling too, this is hard time to engage small groups and maintain networks.
-          Loss of Youth Services – impact on partnerships/other work.
-          Large providers sub-contract (top slice £?)
-          Limited training time.
-          Summer is busiest time for young workers so hard to engage them.
 
Questions
There were a lot of questions, some of which were addressed in the presentation but still arose in discussion.
-          Bigger picture ‘good opportunity’ ‘what happens after’ – somebody coming and making all services together to deliver. ‘Needs assessment’ ‘What payback do services get as partnerships’?
-          Will NCS move towards more outcome based payments?
-          How does it connect to raising of education age?
-          How does it fit with Princes Trust and Duke of Edinburgh? Is it in addition?
-          Should residential be after the teamwork as a reward and benefits from the young people already being a team? 
-           Can local steering groups of local groups and young people to help plan?
-          As larger charities come in, the ‘local’ approach could be sacrificed – however, quality of service is priority. Outside organisation may bring fresh approach and new ideas.
-          Franchise model? Bringing in specific expertise and local knowledge and this can benefit whole partnership by supporting small/large organisations/networks of VCF groups can help to plan together and support each other.
-          Can the NCS scheme have elements commissioned out locally? This would support local infrastructure development.
-          Is the focus of NCS – active citizenships or a route to employment
-          Could model like YOF have worked better eg young people deciding where money should go and which organisations should be involved?
-          Is the cost for this having the same impact as a year round service?
-          What happens other 49 weeks of year?
-          How could young people with children get involved?
-          Does it work to charge? Knowing there is a fee puts people off. Refundable deposit … it is an investment – could help improve as a result. 
-          How do you measure quality of the experience?
-          Why not use what’s already there – playschemes/splash/exchanges etc?
-          How do you ensure safeguarding and get the ‘right’ level not unsafe but not bureaucratic?
-          Is OK to have all girl groups/all visually impaired/all Muslim?

How should it fit in
-          Be more flexible in programme and timings.
-          Link NCS into other programmes and be more linked into accreditation models
-          Use NCS to a filter for youth apprenticeships.
-          Be more flexible in ages – 14-16.
-          The service users (young people) should be leading the creation, operation and delivery of the project. This is carried out already by many.
-          Need to take account of young people getting summer jobs
-          If the NCS Services want to engage more ‘hard to reach groups’ need to engage local agencies that know areas, where young people meet, where there are tensions, knowledge of communities of interest/geography.
-          Promotion need to be undertaken on local levels (sexual health) experiences. Know your audience.
-          Need larger organisations to support small community organisations. Local hubs needed for small organisations to link in and get voice heard.
-          Integrate it into the existing offer and avoid duplication – know who is delivering where.
-          Could integrate a web widget in local infrastructure websites.
-          Could be accredited?
-          Be more proactive on attracting under represented groups.
-          If NCS benefits all sections of the community, should it be funded by more agencies – eg health etc
-          Look at how we use NCS to give more positive messages on young people
-          Social mixing is a contradiction to local focus on disadvantage.
 
Feedback
Plea: Can NCS Service ensure that they engage local area services. This is from the planning, delivery to evaluation stage. Local networks can support with advice, guidance and local knowledge of how to attract ‘hard to reach young people’. And the commissioning of local services/staff considered?
 
Workshop 2
 
Price of Youth Work?
The discussion in this workshop followed an input on the messages in the Education Select Committee report of their Enquiry into Services for Young People and indicated a concern across the field that there is a ‘de-professionalisation’ of youth work underway. With the Government wanting to save costs concerns that untrained volunteers would be seen as better value that trained workers were aired and were the support needs of volunteers recognised? What would be the effect young people as they know the difference between trained workers and others and what would be the effect on terms and conditions?
·         Training – joint approach needed between strategic/voluntary/private sectors
·         QA systems – need joint approach through collaboration e.g. Oldham Alliance of voluntary groups
What is Youth Work?
There was a sense that emerging new models of delivery in consortia provides some opportunities but the changing roles and responsibilities of services are not clear. Concerns were expressed over:
·         Voluntary engagement or statutory referrals
·         Playing table tennis VS restorative justice
·         Where on the continuum of universal - targeted - specialist work would services sit.
·         Need to have a common framework for youth services inc VCF sector and statutory so we can measure quality and effectiveness
·         No minimum standards, the REYS target provided some measure
·         Where is the evidence nationally of impact?
·         The impact of localism and tension with
A view was expressed that the LA should not be the default provider for youth work and should have regard for the unpaid volunteers who deliver 85% of out of school work through volunteers? There was also discussion on the range of services from open access to specialist and how could people work together to compliment and not duplicate services? How effective targeted services can be without the wrap around of the open access provision was a shared concern. Targeted services are more resource intensive and what happens when the preventative services disappear.
Working together how do we support smaller grass roots VCS groups and how do we remove obstacles to involve them?
·         More partnership and collaboration
·         Don’t underestimate cultural change
·         Need to be clear on what is already out there and not duplicate
·         What is/should be the role of private sector
·         Danger of a ‘them and us’ situation emerging
·         Need consortiums?
·         Need a range of opportunities that young people can choose
Commissioning can/will affect the independence of a voluntary sector organisation and it is ultimately about central government control.
Workforce, Training and Volunteers
There was a lot of discussion about the role of volunteers and the impact of losing so many youth workers at once from across the whole workforce - losing organisational memory
·         Should volunteers take on jobs that were paid jobs? Yes if it helps end result
·         Volunteers mean more staff not less if volunteers are e.g. young people who need training and support
·         Work experience and mentoring – doing this effectively is v staff intensive
·         Voluntary run can be v good quality but volunteers can become devalued when more paid people come in
·         If there is no paid staff, where do people go for specialist skills?
·         Issue for women – more women will end up unpaid/underpaid
·         Who is a volunteer? Is it community activist?
·         Do we need policies to do a good job?
·         CRB Process is a barrier to some, so good that its simplified /only used where young people contact is part of role
·         What is an ‘important job’ and how do we value jobs
·         Volunteers can join a Union
 
 
 
 

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