Monday, 12 October 2015

Young people: risks, control and growth

I think being a parent myself is a great asset to my job. I understand how difficult it is to be a parent myself, how you long to do the best thing for your kids, but so often its not obvious what the best thing is. How quickly or slowly to let go, to enable your child to learn for themselves, rather than be protected and told what to do? You also long to control the environment your child is in as much you can, to nurture and support, but lots of things are out of your control.

An example that my husband and I have faced recently. Due to circumstances beyond our control, our daughter has just started at a school at some distance to our son's school. Both schools are within walking distance of our home, but it is not possible to do the school run to both schools on foot given the start and finish times. So, we were faced with the choice: school run in the car - creating pollution, congestion and missing out on exercise - or school run on foot, letting our ten year old walk a mile to school by himself, crossing several roads which at school times get quite busy. As you may know, there is evidence that kids who walk to school perform better. So, we have opted to let him walk to school and I have alerted my mums network to let me know if anyone spots any concerns about his road crossing behaviour!

For now, the decision feels good. It is healthier and he is learning independence. But will I feel guilty and irresponsible if he has an accident? 

Organisations working with young people, face the same issues as a parent. How much can they and should they control the environment? How much risk should they let the young people take?

There is evidence that young people naturally take more risks, it's hard wired into their brains. Ben Byrne from Surrey CC will be talking about this at our Safeguarding Conference on 12th November. If you haven't already booked a ticket, book now, thanks to funding from Surrey CC, we have extended the number of places at  the conference, but still only have a few places left.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Communilab in action

As hopefully you have heard by now, we are in the middle of setting up a great new Community...called Communilab. It is bringing together charities, businesses, public sector agencies, schools and universities to solve problems and create opportunities for young people in Surrey. Communilab Community interacts both off-line (meetings, etc) and online at Two examples of collaboration...

Youth work on the pitch started on Friday night in Park Barn, Guildford. It is based on the Leatherhead Youth Project model of organising regular football sessions and having youth workers alongside to build relationships with young people, especially the ones most in need of a supportive adult relationship. The Guildford sessions have resulted from a collaboration of a number of organisations including Guildford Saints Football club providing the coaches, Guildford Borough Council providing the pitch, Lifetrain providing the youth workers, Kings College and Surrey CC youth worker marketing to young people, Surrey CC youth worker promoting, funding from the High Sheriff Youth Awards (looking for more though in case you know of any sources...), Active Surrey and Surrey FA providing guidance and kit, etc.The initial session on Friday night had 14 lads, a good start and a sign that this project is much needed in the area.

I am, sadly, only talking about boys football at the moment. As a former footballer myself, I am hoping that they might get some girls football going too.  (Personal plea - I would still like to find regular 5-aside women's football in the Guildford/Godalming area. I don't have time to train or play 11-aside at weekends, but would love a quick one hour game an evening a week).

The second example of collaboration is Surrey County Council's volunteering programme. Surrey CC are keen to promote volunteering in the county and are leading by example, encouraging their own staff to volunteer. Their staff volunteer offers are being put on Communilab, for charities to see and take up. To see these opportunities you would need to join the Communilab Community. If you are a charity wanting access to Communilab... for members of Surrey Youth Focus then access to Communilab is provided as a part of your subscription, contact the team for your login. If not, join SYF to gain access to Communilab. If you are a business, public sector agency, school or university wanting access to Communilab then contact us now on