We met Grace in Whitehawk, and walked around the nature reserve together after school on a chilly spring day…
That’s where I do my youth work
It’s full of life
Lots of people, really nice people…
Nice place… Friendly”
43% of young people spoke about feeling more safe in their area, when asked about the biggest change since spending time with detached youth workers.
Opportunity and employability
Our findings suggest that young people see detached youth workers as a source of support in relation to education, and for young people who do seek support to find out about training or employment opportunities, detached youth workers are a useful resource.
All of the young people we interviewed were in education, and some were also employed part time. Two had found out about the course they were enrolled in from youth workers, and some spoke about times when they had been supported by youth workers with issues in school or in accessing courses.
“I struggled to go to interviews and go and apply for colleges. And my youth workers took me to the interviews, helped me with what to say beforehand, and they managed to get me a place at the college that I’m at now.”
One interviewee spoke about how youth workers had supported them to improve their behaviour at college
They’ve helped me understand what’s polite and what’s not polite.
Not all of the interviewees were engaged in their courses, but continued to attend anyway, recognising the value of completing their education.
To be honest with you, it’s boring. But there’s nothing we can do about it as you have to attend college and you have to get [the] grade.
Engagement in education varied amongst the young people we interviewed, some young people felt part of their school or college community and enjoyed their course, while others were finding their course hard to engage with. Amongst the young people who were engaged in education, some spoke about receiving help choosing their current course from youth workers, but there was little discussion around youth workers supporting their engagement with learning. For the young people who weren’t engaged, it was because they found their course boring. As the young people who had been supported to choose their course were generally more engaged in their education, increased youth worker capacity to identify courses that fit young people’s interests and plans could potentially support increased engagement in education or training.
One of the young people we interviewed spoke about what kind of courses they’d like to see made available to young people in the city:
Maybe start courses for young people to get back on track. Or someone who’s … He’s got a criminal record and he’s young and he’s reckless … set him back on a right path. … That’d be a good idea. Learning social skills, how to speak to someone properly, like nicely. How to get a job. Just life skills really. How to cook, clean, stuff like that.
While some interviewees said they would talk to youth workers to find out about job opportunities, they also talked about looking for jobs online and in person. Interviewees did not see Youth workers as an obvious resource for finding employment.
However, one MSC respondent spoke about the support they had received from detached youth workers around accessing employment that linked to their training:
I saw Youth Workers about and then we did my CV, I said I needed work and they helped me get a job. I’ve had the job for the whole of the pandemic and I’m getting loads of experience for my career in garden landscaping. It was great because college closed and I could get my experience hours.
Detached youth workers are a useful way for young people to find out about youth and community activities and opportunities in the city. The young people we interviewed felt that they could find out about activities for young people in the city from their youth workers, and several mentioned that youth workers had shown them where to look online to find out more.
One MSC respondent said that the biggest change for them was knowing they could access support and different youth clubs in the area:
It’s good for one that youth workers got to know me and young people around the area and it’s good for young people to know about youth workers and what they do and to know where to go for chats and clubs
One young person spoke about the location of opportunities and services for young people in the city:
There’s not enough [youth centres] around the place. They’re all in the outskirt areas, nothing in the city to go to … It’s a bit far to travel.
Detached youth work appeared to have a positive impact on young people’s feelings on connectedness to their community. Young people reported feeling an increase in their sense of responsibility to the places and people around them.
Detached youth work appears to have had positive impact on young people’s feeling of safety in the community, linked to both the presence of youth workers in public spaces and to young people’s increased feelings of connection in their community.
Supporting young people to feel safer in their community is an intended outcome of the Brighton Streets project, and just under half (43%) of MSC responses related to young people feeling more safe:
Feeling safer out and about. Trusting people around you
I feel much more comfortable being in the park. Thanks
A small number of young people spoke about Covid specific safety too, and how youth workers had provided resources to help young people keep safe during the pandemic:
I can catch up with youth workers, they help prevent danger. It’s helpful with the COVID situation, they give out masks and hand sanitiser to keep us safe.
All of the young people we interviewed felt safe in their area. One young person said that they had felt safe in their area even before they spent time with detached youth workers:
Interviewer: Do you feel safe when you’re out around here?
Jeff: A hundred percent. Yes. I’ve been here for 12 years. Nothing’s changed. Not my safety, nothing. Never had a problem there, never.
However, some young people spoke about the changes that they saw in their community, or changes to their perceptions of their community, after working with detached youth workers:
Before youth workers started going out and about doing detached work, it was more chaotic around here. No one was friendly to each other. And then, youth workers have brought us together by using the youth centre and the clubs they do and on detached work when they talk to young people out and about, see how they’re feeling.
Some MSC responses also mentioned changes to the way that young people saw themselves within their community:
It has helped me get involved and getting out doing something it makes me more confident in myself and able to talk to new people
This suggests that detached youth work has positive impact on young people’s feeling of safety in the community, and this seems to be linked to both the presence of youth workers in public spaces and to young people’s increased feelings of connection in their community.
Most of the young people we interviewed told us about ways that they had tried to improve things for their local community:
Yeah, we’re both volunteers… We helped at a festival and helping on a hook-the-duck for the little kids. We’ve also done food bank helping. When we were in full lockdown, we were helping sort out parcels for people around the community.
If there’s something wrong, like yesterday there was stuff broken in the road, I’ll report it … I was helping them protest to stop them from knocking [community spaces] down. Like the Valley Social Centre.
The young people who had taken part in community projects and activities felt that time spent with youth workers made them more likely to take part in other projects in the future. Some interviewees explained that this was because they felt more like part of their community:
Interviewer: After spending time with youth workers, do you think you’re more or less likely to try and do some things to try and improve your area?
Jeff: More. A hundred percent more. Speaking to youth workers made me think about, it’s not just me who lives in the estate, it’s about everyone who lives in the estate as well. Everyone cares for each other.
Grace: More likely … Cause when I’m with youth workers, I’m starting to know more people and then I get used to people around me