Tagged / youth
A couple of years ago, I met Adam (not his real name) at a farm in Dorset. Adam was 14 and had been excluded from mainstream education due to behavioural difficulties and a disruptive home life. He had consequently become involved in regular underage drinking and antisocial behaviour. Adam was being exploited and groomed as a drug runner for a London drug gang infiltrating rural areas. He told me that he had been given a knife by gang members and encouraged to use it to protect himself if necessary against rival gangs or local drug dealers.
The farm where I met him is not a normal farm, but a social one, where the therapeutic use of farming practices and animal assisted therapy is used to provide health, social and educational care services for disadvantaged young people that have become disengaged with mainstream education. Stories such as Adam’s are growing increasingly familiar to staff at the farm he attended, who see other vulnerable young people referred to their service.
Many of the young people living in rural Britain who are being exploited by these gangs are, like Adam, those who are disengaged with mainstream education and are at risk of becoming, or currently are, NEET (not in education, employment or training). There are 808,000 young people (aged 16-24) in the UK who are NEET.
Being NEET has a long-term impact on a young person’s life, leaving them vulnerable to substance misuse, offending behaviour, physical and mental health problems, academic underachievement and reduced employment. These young people are subsequently regarded as a concern to the police, health, education and social care professionals.
Yet current interventions are failing to reduce the number of young people becoming NEET. These interventions typically focus on providing the young person with vocational education, despite the fact that the most common vocational qualifications in the UK have very little or no relevance to the labour market.
Interventions that offer a restorative approach, with therapeutic support and a focus on learning, however, are acknowledged to be more successful.
A green future
Earlier this year, the government launched a 25-year environment plan. The plan acknowledged the importance of connecting children and young people to nature through learning, as well as the benefits of a physical, hands-on experience as a pathway to good health and well-being. The government has pledged £10m to support local strategies which use the natural environment and has further committed to a national expansion of social farming by 2022. This will treble the number of available places to 1.3m per year for children and adults in England.
On social farms, health, social or specialist educational care services for vulnerable people are delivered through structured programmes of farming-related activities. Social farming is established in numerous European countries. Norway currently operates 1,100 social farms, compared to 240 in the UK.
Young people participate in a variety of seasonal farming-related activities, including animal husbandry, crop and vegetable production and woodland management. Social farming has been found to have a positive impact on physical and mental health along with the opportunity to develop transferable skills, personal development, social inclusion and rehabilitation.
When I met Adam, I was in the midst of a research project evaluating whether a year-long farming intervention can prevent disengaged young people from low-socioeconomic backgrounds becoming NEET. Participants typically attend a four-hour session once a week at the farm.
Future roots, the farm I researched, employs a mix of teachers, youth and social workers and therapists. It offers a different model of learning for those struggling in mainstream education. My research demonstrated that the use of the natural environment as a mechanism for change was effective in reducing the risk of becoming NEET.
The young people I followed displayed a significant reduction in self-reported mental health risks and behavioural regulation difficulties; improved social relationships and coping; improved life and work skills; and re-engagement with learning. All of the young people were in employment or training six months after their time at the social farm finished.
Indeed, the social farm was the only place where Adam said he felt safe. He was able to develop a sense of belonging and trust which enabled him to talk about the difficulties he was experiencing in his life. Without the social farm intervention, staff said that Adam would likely have proceeded to harm himself or others. The farmer refers to the changes seen in the young people as a “chrysalis butterfly effect”: the positive transformation seen in these young people as they turn their lives around to look to the future are truly inspiring.
AHRC blog has just published an article on a potential new project on youth, gender and sexuality proposed by a team at Bournemouth University. The AHRC supported short film RUFUS STONE is seven years old this year. Our screenings of this film’s story, particularly to young people, have impressed upon us how a supposedly ‘old’ story – the film is set in rural Britain more than 50 years ago – still resonates with young people today.
Our proposed project, “Rufus Stone … the next Generation’ – will contribute to knowledge on the substantive topic of ‘Post-Millennials’ or ‘Generation Z’ (GenZ), focusing on their anxieties and ambiguous approaches around gender and sexuality.
Because GenZ is the first generation to be totally hooked up to technology since birth, we want to work with mobile phones and iPads and social media over several months in sessions with youth to produce their own film/video about their lives and relationships.
We’re currently applying for funding to work with young people aged 16-18, involving them in telling their stories, co-created by involving them in every stage of production. We are at the bidding stage now. If you would like to express an interest in joining the team, please contact Kip Jones for a chat.
AHRC blog tells how film RUFUS STONE has inspired a project on the next generation.
RUFUS STONE’s Project lead, Kip Jones’ new project – “Rufus Stone … the next Generation’ – hopes to contribute to knowledge on the substantive topic of ‘Post-Millennials’ or ‘Generation Z’ (Gen Z), focusing on their anxieties and ambiguous approaches around gender and sexuality.
Academics interested in participating in the project can contact Kip Jones for a chat.
A student from the Netherlands, Coco Sips, has spent time recently in Bournemouth and Dorset learning about LGBT teens and particularly those isolated in rural settings. Her study had resonance with the film, Rufus Stone, and so Coco sought the advice Executive Producer and Lead of the Gay and Pleasant Land? Project, Dr Kip Jones, when planning her study. Jones commented: ‘Although the main characters in Rufus Stone are in their seventies at the end of our film, the consequences of their youth are very much the driving forces of their lifetimes and the film. We hope to continue to explore LGBT youth through community connections and issues of social inclusion in a follow-up study now under consideration’.
Sips also sought advice from Intercom Trust, a organisation for LGBT people in the south west penisula, that was central to the earlier Gay and Pleasant Land? Project on isolated older lesbians and gay men in rural south west England. Coco then worked closely with a local LGBT Space Youth Project‘s organisers and teens to produce her report and a short video, Into SPACE.
In the film, young LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) youth tell their story about feelings of acceptance and/or social exclusion living in the rural area of Dorset, Southwest of England. The film was produced by Coco Sips as a part of her thesis project, “Social Exclusion amongst young LGBT people living in Rural Dorset” and performed on behalf of Space Youth Project, a non-governmental organization in Dorset.
Funding is available under the Progress 2011 theme. Your proposal must contribute to developing and testing socially innovative approaches to policy priorities in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Open Method of Coordination on social protection and social inclusion. To be selected under this call, projects should focus on either of the following selected themes, keeping in mind in all cases the gender dimension of the issue:
• Social inclusion of vulnerable groups (such as Roma people, migrants and their descendants, homeless and young people)
• Quality of childcare services (this has great impacts on child well-being, but also on gender equality, poverty in jobless households, employment rates, birth rates and on long term sustainable development by supporting the development of human potential)
• Active and healthy ageing (this depends on various factors, such as life habits, working conditions or urban policies and represents a major condition in order to extend working lives and to reduce social protection expenditures)
• Transition from education to work for the youth (as only a multidimensional policy approach combining actions on the education framework, the labour market, families can be successful)
Deadlines: 15.12.11 and 30.03.12
Calls for Proposals
Information, Training & Assistance Centres in Latin America: Proposals should ensure the visibility of European satellite navigation activities, monitor local satellite navigation initiatives and support the EU satellite navigation industry through support of information, training and assistance centres and activities, in Latin America. Deadline 15.09.11
Youth Support Systems: This call for proposals aims at supporting partnerships with regions, municipalities, civil society actors and bodies active in corporate social responsibility in order to develop over the long-term projects which combine various measures of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme. This mechanism aims at encouraging synergies and cooperation between the European Commission — via the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency — and the different actors working in the field of youth by pooling resources and practices with a view to maximising the impact of the programme and to reaching out to a higher number of beneficiaries. Deadline 03.11.11
Calls for Tenders
Stimulating Innovation for EU Enterprises through ICT: The objective of this action is to assess the policy context, concept, implementation, results and economic impact of the EU policy initiative eBSN (eBusiness support network for SMEs), focusing in particular on the initiative on ‘Stimulating innovation for European enterprises through smart use of ICT’, encompassing a series of industry-specific demonstration actions to stimulate innovation among European SMEs through smart use of ICTs. Deadline 06.10.11
Guidance for Active Age Management – Supporting Longer Working Lives of Older Workers: The aim of this Europe-wide study is to investigate how lifelong guidance is embedded in the European Union and national policies and strategies on active ageing as well as in employer’s age management strategies supporting older workers’ (55+) lifelong learning and skills development, and within this context to what extent various guidance services available to this target group in real terms address the issue of staying longer in employment (instead of making an early exit from working life). Deadline 26.09.11
Reports with results of the 2010 consultations on the future of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), the Erasmus Mundus and the Youth Programme post-2013 are now available. The GHK Results of the Public Consultation and Overview of the Public Online Consultation findings will feed into the design of the next generation of education and youth programmes which are currently being prepared by the European Commission. It is expected that the European Commission will present a proposal for the new education and youth programmes in the autumn of this year to the European Parliament and Council.
Youth in Action is the EU Programme for young people aged 15-28 (in some cases 13-30). It aims to inspire a sense of active citizenship, solidarity and tolerance among young Europeans and to involve them in shaping the Union’s future. The European Commission has announced a new call for proposals to support the professional development of youth workers. Grants of up to €25,000 are available to those active in the field of youth to develop transnational partnerships and preference will be given to projects that address the issue of youth unemployment.
Projects should involve a partnership between two partners from two different programme countries of which at least one is from an EU Member State, acting respectively as sending and host organisation of the youth worker involved in the project. Projects will have a maximum duration of 12 months and must start between 1 January 2012 and 1 June 2012.
The closing date for applications is the 1st September 2011