The winner of this year’s Youth Work Award, sponsored by the National Youth Agency, is an inspiring project involving the delivery of high quality youth work in challenging circumstances.
Kinetic Youth’s work with inmates at Werrington young offender institution in Staffordshire is helping these young men aged 15 to 18 make positive strides forward. According to the charity, the key to working with this vulnerable group is developing constructive relationships that are “open, honest, respectful and real”.
Youth workers deliver a range of individual and group activities, working with every young person currently at Werrington. Activities include informal education, a youth club, library projects, peer mentoring, workshops on violence and bullying, Release on Temporary Licence opportunities, and resettlement work.
The charity works closely with prison managers and education provider Novus to ensure it is meeting young people’s needs. Innovative steps include designing a mentoring course for young people identified by the prison as being violent, a bully or in need of additional support.
What is unique about this scheme is that young people can pick the youth worker they would like as their mentor. Those who have embarked on the programme include one young man who was formerly one of the most violent young people in the prison and constantly being sanctioned.
With support from his mentor he has completely turned things around, gaining enhanced status and working as a cleaner on his wing. He is soon to get training from Kinetic Youth to become an equality rep.
Kinetic also provides regular opportunities for young people to have their say on the prison regime and curriculum. As a result, young people have felt empowered by contributing to positive changes in areas such as the length of phone calls, food choices and the items they are allowed in their rooms.
Leigh Middleton, NYA CEO said, “This project shows youth work can be a life changing force in young people’s lives, connecting, supporting and helping them move their lives forward to a more positive future. For young offenders finding a way to new behaviours and opportunities is even more crucial. Congratulations Kinetic Youth on winning this year’s CYPN Now Award.”
Esther Horner and Gess Aird, Directors of Kinetic Youth said, “Collecting the NYA sponsored Youth Work award for 2017 has completely blown us away. We have been shortlisted before and been awarded high commendations in the years past, this achievement just makes us all so proud.
“Kinetic Youth turned 10 years old this year, we have been celebrating our achievements over the past 10 years, looking back at some of the fantastic youth work we have delivered, national youth participation projects, community rehabilitation projects, one to one support programs, youth work within the secure estate and much more. It has been humbling to read testimonies from young people telling us why Kinetic works for them.
“Youth work remains the heart beat of everything we do, maintaining our professional identity within the youth justice sector has been challenging at points but we work hard to ensure all delivery is underpinned by youth work methodologies and that all partners, commissioners and young people we work with, know what youth work is and how youth work can make a difference. We may be facing a difficult time as a profession, but we know that youth work is the answer and time will tell. We hope that more funding can be released to all the amazing youth work projects out there who deliver much needed services to young people up and down the country.
“Thank you goes to all our staff team, our partners and our supporters, but most of all, thank you to every young person who we have been fortunate to meet over the past ten years, without you Kinetic Youth would be nothing.
“Youth work makes the difference we all need to see in the world. Youth work works!”