March 4th, 2011

Come Join our Gang…

Well we survived horse riding! It was great actually and I think the Girls that we took had a great time, some of them meeting and riding a horse for the first time and loving getting out of London and being outside in the forest.

Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government this week at the NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) national conference said:

‘You know, people say it’s easier to start a gang than a youth group. Because the government doesn’t regulate gangs. It doesn’t come up with an endless list of rules and requirements. Hurdles and hoops. Paperwork and boxes to tick and forms to fill in. It’s no wonder that people get frustrated and give up before they’ve even begun.’

The whole article can be found here on the NVCO website. This is a really interesting and completely valid point, but before I slip in to the trap set by Mr Pickles of stating myself out of a job, I believe there should be some form of organisation and regulation in order to ensure youth provision is safe for young people and volunteers, and therefore a level of professional (paid) support – like the Canaan Project provides for the 120 young people we meet each week. Also I don’t normally use the term ‘gang’ which I feel can too easily be adopted to negatively label groups of young people who may just be socialising together. However I am not naive and understand that there are issues.

That said it is simply unbelievable the amount of bureaucracy and red tape that we fight on a weekly basis. The reason this saddens me is because it is the young people that miss out. Sometimes I wonder what youth workers did before computers and forms…wow they must have spoken to young people!

Back to the good/real stuff – making a definite difference to young people’s lives. These are some of the new experiences we gave to young people last week:

  1. Using the London Underground
  2. First time to the South Bank in London
  3. First time in the Royal Festival Hall
  4. First meal out in a restaurant
  5. First time ordering food for themselves
  6. Young people deciding the colour of a new local youth centre
  7. First time trying new food
  8. First time Ice Skating
  9. First time Horse Riding
  10. First time on a day trip without family

I decided to stop at 10. These things may seem small or even insignificant, but these are the things that build confidence and develop aspiration and these are the things that we believe make differences to young peoples lives.