Sunday, 31 October 2010

Did gangs close Hackney youth centre?

A Hackney youth centre closed down last week, apparently due to gang activity. It had been open for a year.

Cllr Rita Krishna and Cllr Gulay Icoz told Hackney Council on Wednesday that the Blue Hut youth club had closed down.

I think it was Hoxton councilllor, Philip Glanville who added more detail. He started talking about gangs and the previously optimistic comments of Skyways, the voluntary sector organisation which ran Blue Hut. He appeared to be suggesting that Skyways ducked-out out of Blue Hut too easily. He said that voluntary providers also hadn't 'come up to scratch' in the borough (Hoxton Hall - also).

But in relation to Blue Hut, the implication was that Skyways didn't have problem with gangs six months ago but this changed... "One of the reasons they walked away is that they said that there were 'issues'"

I don't 100% know that's what was meant. I'll have to find out in the week unless someone can tell me.

Description of Skyway project in Wednesday's report including a recommendation to base other projects around its strategy. P. 184 of Council agenda:

Blue Hut - Peer Support Programme

The Peer Support Programme is a pilot project currently being run by SkyWay organisation at the Blue Hut and there has been huge interest from young people wanting to be involved in it. It is teaching the young people involved that they can give something back to their community and become positive role models for their peers. Through the programme, they can show there is an alternative to the gangs many young people will see on a daily basis and provide positive role models to the youngsters in their areas.

The programme has been running since October 2009 in its current form although a pilot project on a much smaller scale was run from March 2009 with 3 peer coaches.

In total there have been fifteen young people involved in the programme so far and their ages range from fifteen to twenty four

Page 184years, although most of the young people involved have been between seventeen and twenty one years.

The young people receive support through the development of an individual learning plan, and as part of this they received an in-depth initial meeting and then monthly one to ones which focus on their progress and development in relation to their individual learning plan. The peers specialise in one area, such as drama or sport, and they report to a specific member of staff who is trained in their area of interest and who can offer them continued support and advice. The peers also complete training which is both accredited and non- accredited.

The peers all complete a ‘train the trainer’ course, and this included units on safeguarding, working with young people, running activity sessions, equality and diversity, and confidentiality and data protection. They also completed an enterprise training programme over 4 days. The peers also complete training on working with young people in relation to drugs and alcohol.

Peers are recruited to support activities across all aspects of SkyWay’s programmes and therefore they have sports peers, media peers (music and film), youth work peers and bike maintenance peers. All of the young people involved receive training and paid work experience in the area they are interested, for example sports coaching, media sessions or youth work. The work that they do is constantly monitored and only once the workers are confident in the young people’s abilities and skills and they have completed the relevant training and have had an enhanced CRB check will they be allowed to lead sessions with other young people.

In addition to this, each peer will complete qualifications that are relevant to their interests and will be identified through their individual learning plan; this could include for example Level 1 or 2 in FA football coaching or Level 2 in Youth Work.

The Peer Support Programme has been increasingly popular with young people and it is currently oversubscribed. Staff at the Blue Hut said that the results so far have been very positive and they have seen a number of the peers grow in maturity & confidence, and the young people involved have developed communication, self reliance, team working and leadership skills.

The Commission members talked to one of the young people involved in the Peer Support Programme who told them he felt it was important to develop young people through the programme as it helps to bridge the gap between the young people and youth workers.

Page 185

Recommendation Three

The Commission was impressed during the site visits and through talking to young people by the range of training and qualifications young people are able to gain through youth centres and activities and strongly support and encourage these opportunities.

The Commission was particularly interested in the Peer Support Programme run by SkyWay organisation at the Blue Hut and its aim to develop young people to lead activity sessions with their peers and younger age groups.

The Commission recommends the Youth Service look at the Peer Support Programme currently being run by SkyWay organisation at the Blue Hut and consider adopting a similar model in council maintained youth centres in Hackney.

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