Gillian Finn tells the story:
Northbourne Street Youth Initiative (NSYI) is based in Elswick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. NSYI’s mission statement is to ‘support young people’s development through activity and achievement.’ We work with children and young people aged 8 – 25 years old.
Youth work programme
Our weekly programme is a mixture of accredited and recreational activities. Recreational activities include DJ-ing, CD production, cooking, pool, ICT and arts and crafts. We also run issue-based sessions on topics, including sexual health and drug and alcohol awareness.
We support young people in all aspects of their lives in order to ensure that they reach their full potential. This includes support around job searches, CV writing, college applications, school attendance and offer information and advice in any areas that the young people ask for. Our current priority is to raise funds to continue the work we are doing and expand into supporting young people’s formal educational achievements.
At NSYI young people can take part in a number of Award programmes, including the Adventure Service Challenge Award, D of E and Youth Achievement Awards.
We use Youth Achievement Awards because they fit with the activities that we are already running and what the young people enjoy doing. The Awards are, in effect, a way of accrediting the activities that young people themselves choose to do. They are also a good way for those who are struggling to achieve in formal education to prove to potential employers or formal education providers that they are capable of achieving, if they are given an opportunity.
Gaining a Youth Achievement Award isn’t just about collecting a piece of paper – though young people do appreciate the recognition the certificate brings. Confidence grows as they progress through the Award levels, from Junior Achievement Awards, right up to Gold.
We see them making phone calls, delivering presentations and making decisions. They take part in off-site activities, which they have organised themselves, that take them out of their comfort zones – gorge-walking, when they are afraid of water, doing a high ropes course, when they are afraid of heights. In a supportive environment young people face their fears and come out of them with a boost in confidence and an awareness of what they can achieve when they push themselves.
The structure of the Youth Achievement Awards encourages young people to take on increasing levels of responsibility within the activities we offer. We expect to see young people continue to progress through the levels of the Awards to reach their full potential and – let’s not forget – have plenty of fun along the way!
Gillian Finn is Youth Initiative Manager with Northbourne Street Youth Initiative.