Community School, YMCA Southend

The Southend YMCA Community School is the only Alternative Provision Free School Academy in the YMCA movement. Following a competitive process, and due to a unique educational ethos (developed in Southend YMCA) the school was opened with full financial support from the Government (DfE) in 2013.

Every year, the school works with 50 very vulnerable learners at key stage 4 (aged 14-16) helping them to succeed at a key life stage. A distinct curriculum builds the self-esteem and wellbeing of young people, provides nurture and leads to GCSE achievement (which exceeds local and national averages). Meaningful outcomes help young people to progress.

Ofsted recently said (03.19): “Pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare are a strong feature of this school’s success…Staff work tirelessly to support pupils to develop their self-esteem and engage in learning…Parents and carers appreciate the care and understanding given…A strong safeguarding culture permeates the school….A purposeful and relevant curriculum, which is rich with experiences, allows pupils to develop their knowledge, skills for life and independence well. Pupils make good progress from their starting points’.”

Each year, it works with some of the most vulnerable children in the country who are on the child protection register, being criminally exploited, who are in care, who may have stepped down from being an inpatient in a mental health unit etc. Due to Adverse Childhood Experiences the young people have social, emotional and behavioural issues. Not only does the school provide strong pastoral support and safeguarding, it also achieved GCSE results with young people which exceed local, and national averages for comparable provision. These are hard and really meaningful outcomes – helping young people to really ‘belong, contribute and thrive’ because they can progress into further education at the age of 16 and have the resilience to rebut potential exploitative relationships and situations.

Daystop – YMCA Bath Group

One of the biggest issues facing young people in Bath is that there is nowhere to go during the day that is safe, warm and where help and advice is easily accessible. Our research found that young homeless people are some of the most vulnerable in society but that limited resources meant they were left unsupported at a time of need.

Many services in this area are geographically spread out and difficult to access with young people not knowing where to go. Our work has highlighted the challenge of working with ‘hard to reach’ young people and that many fail to access the support available. Therefore, in January 2019 we opened Daystop; a central, single point of access for young people in B&NES.

Daystop provides a safe place to go, somewhere warm and dry where food and drink can be offered, mobile phones charged, showers and some clean clothes can be had, help and advice can be sought and other services can be signposted. In the 4 months we have been running we have supported over 50 young people.

The Daystop service will also lie alongside out Nightstop service providing emergency accommodation to young people aged 16-25 with nowhere to go. Daystop has the potential to be rolled out across other YMCAs, especially those already offering Nightstop.

The Daystop service offers:
>a place to come between 9am-5pm
>the basic provision of food, showers, laundry facilities, power points, computer and phone access
>initial assessment and advice from the in-house team of support workers
>a weekly timetable of events /workshops including: job club, children leaving care drop in session, mediation, budgeting and benefits advice, housing help and advice, counselling and mentoring, signposting, discussion groups and most of all a friendly face and warm welcome.

Discovery College, YMCA Plymouth

Celebrating its 10th year, Discovery College has established itself as a successful and innovative post-16 College that has made a significant difference to the lives of over 1,200 young people in Plymouth. Growing from a small project of two courses, the College now delivers over seven vocational training courses and three employability programmes for 16-19s, each year. Additionally, the college supports over 50 local family’s a-week through a range of services delivered by its students.

The unique learning environment allows young people to have their voices heard, be inspired about their future and feel engaged with their community. This caring and supportive space particularly helps students who are disengaged from mainstream education or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Courses are delivered not only equip young people with essential qualifications, but also give them the life-skills they need to fulfil their potential and thrive in society.

This year, Discovery College has reached more young people than ever, and made its biggest impact on young lives. Students achieved their best ever exam results, launched a community orchard and introduced a new Travel & Tourism course. Equally, students have got involved with and made an impact on their community, by leading and supporting services at YMCA Plymouth.
Examples this year include:

– Employability students volunteering and fundraising for various community projects

– Soft Play service ran by Childcare students, impacting 30+ families a week.

– Community orchard designed, built and maintained by Business students for local people, and groups to use.

– Sports clubs and disability activities run by Sport and Public Services students benefiting 850+ people annually.

– Health & Social Care students delivered a Memory Cafe to support 25+ people affected by dementia and are trained to give mental health counselling to their peers.

– Travel & Tourism students working to organise trips for local deprived families.

Put the spark back into your future – YMCA DownsLink Group

Our project is designed to enable vulnerable young residents with significant trauma histories, incomplete and negative education experiences, and a lack of confidence and belief in their own abilities to access opportunity without pressure.

The core aspects of the course are Life Skills and Employability, but what makes our project different is that it is developed with the young people themselves, considering their own unique learning styles, interests and pace. This is a holistic model which ensures young people have multiple levels of support through their journey, and contextualises the learning, supporting them to choose units they want to learn, giving it relevance and value. The learning is done at the young person’s own pace, which has increased through the duration, and is different for everyone.

Our model is not target driven so has no achievement and attendance demands. Instead, it builds trust and encourages choice. Our approach yields powerful results and has reintroduced ambition and belief to previously disengaged young people.

The aim of the project was to reintroduce young people into a learning environment, encourage them to see a positive future, and begin to reintegrate into their communities.

The outcomes surpassed that: Key achievements of 15 young people who started are:

  • 13 completed sector and life specific non-regulated learning units, which have really focused them towards a life plan.
  • 9 completed regulated learning, one receiving a Level 1 Award, two receiving a Level 1 Extended Certificate, six receiving a Level 1 Diploma, one receiving Level 2 Maths, and one receiving Level 2 English.
  • Significantly, three young people have gone into employment, three are actively looking for work, one is attending college, five are enrolling into college, four have volunteered, and five have moved on to more independent living. All have made amazing personal progress and are accessing and accepting support.

Step Up, North Staffordshire

Through the Bertarelli Foundation support, YMCA North Staffordshire has significantly increased its engagement and partnership working with Staffordshire University. The project works on a number of initiatives to break down barriers to higher education and over the past 12 months, we have seen six young people achieve the Stepping Up course as well as two members of our staff team. Of those, three have now embarked on a full degree programme and the others are using their qualification, have gained employment.

The partnership is about doing lots of work to break down barriers to learning and initiatives to support this include:

* Hosting our annual prom at the Student Union so that young people accommodated with us start to see the University as a place where they belong

* Worked with the university so that young people from both the YMCA and the University took part in the Srebrenica delegation

* The university offers experiences to YMCA young people including being VIP’s at their end of year drama celebration / using the music studios

* Working with the University to offer activities to young people aged 10 – 15 from our community youth work initiative – including an exotic zoo keeper experience

* Using the University refectory as a space to chat and engage

* The University sponsors a space on campus where they also release a member of staff to come and spend time with Young people living at YMCA North Staffordshire

We feel that Stepping Up is a great initiative and really allows young people the space and input to break down barriers and re-engage with learning

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