Creating Young Community Builders #CIW17

Community Impact Week #CIW17 celebrates the positive impact housing associations have in local communities.

Our work with young people began in 2009, with our Bridging the Gap project currently having Big Lottery funding through to 2018. We work with the University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth to capture the value of this project to our communities.

In her evaluation of the young people’s project, Dr Susan Cooper, Senior Lecturer at the University of St Mark and St John and Programme Area Lead for Childhood, Youth and Community Studies, praised the project for its “... strong commitment to seeing young people as community assets rather than problems to be dealt with ... as a source of social capital that can strengthen the community.”

Youth clubs are held in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and these are both run by Youth Management Teams. Youth Management Teams are central to the Bridging the Gap project giving young people the opportunity to run their youth clubs, manage budgets and have a say in what they would like the service to provide.

Senior Members are selected by these management teams to act as mentors and role models within their communities, helping and encouraging other young people to achieve in school and aspire to their dreams. Young people who achieve this status have gone above and beyond in their commitment, not only to the project, but to the other young people who attend the youth club. The youth management teams set the standards and expectations they require of young people who aspire to this position.

‘It means being a role model, you’ve got a say, people look up to you and it makes you feel important’ 

‘you help people out even if you’re not asked to because it’s the right thing to do’  

‘we help to run the clubs, helping the younger ones, it means they are less scared to join in, sometimes they feel it’s easier to talk to us rather than the staff –we can be like a link between them and the staff’

The focus of the ‘Bridging the Gap’ project is on developing and delivering provision that will build resilience within young people and their families to enable them to overcome the barriers they face. The project’s ‘theory of change’ is that this can be achieved through:

  • developing trusting relationships with young people and their families
  • providing opportunities for young people to develop social skills to support their educational and employment journeys
  • developing young people’s connection with peers and their wider community
  • developing health and wellbeing
     
    ‘My confidence has changed a lot and now I feel like I can do anything’
     
    ‘When I first started youth club, I was quiet and shy, then I started to make friends, my confidence grew, and the friends I have at club are now my friends at school, I didn’t know them before’
     
    ‘I’ve been involved in active projects like YCEP and charity events, I’ve been to PGL twice where I did things like the zipline and the trapeze that I never thought I would do. This has made me proud of myself – I’m proud of everything I’ve done with club’
     
    The innovation and excellence of the project has been recognised nationally as North Devon Homes were named as one of eight finalists in the Youth Work category in the Children & Young People Now Awards 2017. This award is the gold standard for everyone working with children, young people and families.