Last Thursday we were delighted to welcome youth work colleagues from across South Gloucestershire to the first conference in the locality for many years. Why so long you might wonder?

Whilst youth services have been completely cut across the country, we are fortunate South Gloucestershire has a local authority, and equally dedicated voluntary sector partners, still committed to keeping youth work alive in the locality. However, the resource we do have is limited and often prioritised for direct delivery so therefore the opportunity for youth workers to come together to network and upskill at shared events are rare.

To ensure isolated young people in areas of very rural provision such as South Glos have access to quality provision, these events are especially vital. That’s why when offered the opportunity to organise such an event, with support from our commissioners, we jumped at the chance!

Thanks for bringing us all together and putting Youth Work back on the map in South Glos!

When beginning planning the event, there was only one week that made sense: Youth Work Week 2019! While we wanted colleagues to have the opportunity to network and upskill, a key aim of the event was to ensure those colleagues from very rural provision felt part of ‘the bigger picture’. Therefore, we were excited to open the event with keynote speakers from national youth organisations: Mary McKaskill from The Centre for Youth Impact and Sangita Petal from UK Youth.

It was a really good event, well organised and ran really smoothly. It was great to see so many people.

To enable colleagues to feel connected with ‘the bigger picture’, workshops were selected in line with Youth Work Week themes, and the NYA’s Promise From The Nation: Youth Covenant.

Workshops on offer included:

  • ‘Experiencing Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing’
  • ‘Treated Fairly and Equally’
  • ‘Skilled and Equipped to Learn and Earn’

In the true spirit of partnership, these workshops were facilitated by partners from the South Glos Youth Partnership; with the commitment to skills sharing and the engagement of participants in the workshops, it’s clear to see how the partnership has been nominated for a CYP Now Award.

(I enjoyed) Being reminded of Harts Ladder and the theories behind our work with young people, and to be reminded of the importance of diversity and welcoming all to our services.

We also wanted to make the most of the chance to increase the quality of provision, but consistent provision too. Therefore, participants attended a workshop co-facilitated by one of our partners and our Commissioning Manager from the council. The aim of the workshop was to refresh colleagues of the principles of youth work and understand from a commissioning perspective why evidencing our practice matters. The co-delivery of the workshop is the epitome of how the voluntary sector and local authority have led the way in partnership working to ensure young people have access to quality provision. Attendees commented that they appreciated reconnecting with the theory, and principles that underpin our work. It’s important to remind ourselves of why we do what we do and ensure our ‘Youth Work in Action’ is the best it can be for young people in an ever-challenging world.

Loved the conference. Having a celebration during Youth Work Week - its tough out there at the moment! This created an opportunity for workers across the lots to share and learn together. People stayed until the end, which is always a good sign! - Sharon Adams – Commissioning Manager, South Glos Council