To celebrate Youth Work Week 2019, we're sharing good practice on the themes for each day of this week of Youth Work in Action. Today we're talking about our work with young people who are not in education, employment or training and how we enable them to reach their potential. 

Increasing the prospects of young people 

We work with Bristol City Council to ensure young people in year 11 and year 12 this September have bright prospects ahead by working on the September Guarantee, which requires local authorities to find education and training places for 16 and 17 year olds, to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to gain skills and qualifications to help them progress to higher education, work and prosper in adult life. 

We’re pleased to announce that this year we’ve enabled 92.5% of young people in year 11 and year 12 in Bristol to go forward into education, employment or training. This is a significant improvement for the city, an increase from the 89.7% achieved last year.

In addition, our West of England Works team works tirelessly throughout the year providing one to one support. Young people we work with face multiple barriers. We establish relationships based on trust to be able to explore how they can overcome these barriers. 

For example, we work with numerous young people who are at risk of homelessness due to complicated relationships with their families. Others are experiencing mental health problems, which is difficult to get support for due to high needs thresholds and waiting lists. We also see more and more young people with learning difficulties which were never officially diagnosed, resulting in a lack of basic skills. 

This is why our support always is:

  • flexible - we meet young people where they are. This applies not only in the metaphorical sense, but also the practical one - we travel across the city if needed, meet people in cafes, in libraries, in job centres and their houses if that's what they're comfortable with. 
  • based on individual needs. What a young carer from Southmead needs will be very different to a youth offender from Knowle. We address each need individual and work with our partners for young people to have proper support and be ready for work. We also adapt to everyone's learning style and support with applications and interviews.  
  • consistent. It's often that young people need support before they are able to make job or education applications, during the process of applying and interviewing, and when they are in a job. We are there every step of the way. 

Using creativity to inspire young people

We often find we need to inspire young people to take the next step in their lives towards their future careers. That's why we run Creative Careers courses, where young people aged 16-25 can come along for a couple of days a week and develop new skills in specific creative subjects. 

1. Our Creative Careers courses are always run by professional artists who are supported by a strong youth work team 

2. We always have one to one support available for young people. It may take many conversations, a bit of exploration and some encouragement for young people to get the confidence to join a course with others. That's why we have professionals that are best placed to be there to support. 

3. One of the best outcomes of our courses is that young people who have been isolated find a community. They join others in similar situations and discover they're not along. They learn from each other, work together in a group and make friendships for life. This means they are better equipped to ask for help, collaborate, develop soft skills required by the world of work. 

4. We make together. Each course has a showcase which means there's a clear objective that work is made for. We work in partnership with other organisations (our latest project partners being all the way from Brazil!) and share with audiences work which comes from the heart. 

Some of the young people from our Creative Careers courses find their paths towards the creative industries. Others choose a different career where they use the skills they've acquired through the course. However, all of them make a step forward and overcome barriers which in some cases had been holding them back for years. 

We enable young people to be skilled and equipped to earn and learn through relationships based on trust and creativity. What support do you think needs to be in place to make sure young people's futures are bright and our communities prosper? 

Vulnerable young people need your support. Donate today to empower young people to reach their potential:

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