“What do others think about Worth Unlimited?”
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The ongoing story of Worth Unlimited is about contributing to the ongoing stories of young people in our local communities. Sometimes this is a small role, sometimes it is a significant role.
Here are just some of the stories that our teams have found themselves involved in. Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved...
Earlier this year Lance (West Mids team) and Melanie began working with a group of 7 Year 10 lads from a school in Walsall who were considered most at risk of leaving school with no qualifications. We began delivering the Foundation level WWLI programme and most of the group quickly engaged with it. However, due to a mix of reasons it became apparent that the group would not complete the Foundation level programme by the end of the school year so we suggested taking them away on a residential in order to do so.
Over the 4 days we did a mix of activities – from workshops and discussion groups to trips to a secluded beach where they were able to climb the coastal cliff path and fly kites and a water based activity day. This was the highlight of the week for all!! In the morning we were taken to Ceibwr where we spent 2 hours coasteering – following the rocks around the coast, swimming through coves, jumping off cliffs into the Atlantic ocean and being battered by huge waves!! Then it was off to Llandysul for an afternoon of white water kayaking – another new experience for all the group. Although wet and tired at the end of the day, each of the young people knew they had pushed themselves to new limits and were amazed by what they had just done.
Throughout the week we took plenty of time to just chat to the group – whether over meals, whilst walking through country lanes, in the minibus or during tasks – and it was apparent that the residential had been an extremely positive experience for all. For example, one evening I facilitated a faith and beliefs workshop and this provided an opportunity for each of us to share what we know about our own faith, the faith of others and how that faith is worked out in daily life. During the evaluation at the end of the week, all of the lads stated that they had a greater understanding of people who are different to them.
Monitoring and evaluation of the activity day showed that the young people had learnt new skills, develop existing skills, learnt what to do differently and that they can face their fears. Comments from this session included:
know what I’m
In the space of a few days the young people to develop new and existing skills in a different environment.
“Disruptive at school, not getting on with his tutors and now on a part time timetable in an effort to avoid permanent exclusion Jo knew that the ball was in his court and he had important decisions to make. He accepted a place on a Worth Unlimited programme as a way to find things to do with his free time. He knew he needed some distractions in his life to avoid some of the negative influences in his life.
But the Worth Unlimited programme was more than just about occupying free time. Jo was offered opportunity to pursue activities that he cared about and wanted to develop his skills in. For Jo this was about learning how to run a business, marketing his garden clearance services and turning enquiries into orders for his time. The framework of the ASDAN Bronze Award gave a structure to his activities and helped him develop key skills which he recognised were of relevance to his future. Most of all he had the opportunity and time to talk and to be listened to as he explored his own ideas about life.
Jo is now a plasterer. During his time with Worth Unlimited he was supported applying to a college where he completed his NVQ1 and NVQ2 courses and he got work as a modern apprentice. Jo is now also an active member of a music and dance group sharing positive messages about life with other young people.”
Nathan is now 17 years old. He hasn’t been at school since he was 13. He was fighting everyone including his teachers so he was excluded. His father had beaten him and his mother before eventually walking out.
For Nathan, pleading turned to numbness which turned to anger, as he started to fight back with no feelings for himself or those he hurt. A magistrates supervision order arrived inevitably enough.
Worth Unlimited youth workers regularly met Nathan during their detached outreach sessions. One night they helped him get home, he was do drunk he could barely walk.
Seeing he had managed to build significant relationships with the youth workers his school enrolled him on the Worth Unlimited key skills course and Nathan started to achieve and as he achieved his esteem started to soar.
Nathan is 17 years old now. He has gained the ASDAN Bronze and Silver Awards and he is now coming to the end of the E2E course. He wants to join the army once his supervision order ends. “I’m a good boy now!” he proudly boasts.
Tyrone has been part of our drop-in work for a number of years. His brothers have a history of criminality and many of those working with Tyrone have felt that he will undoubtedly end up in the same position. Providing the drop-in for him has given up time to engage with adults in a positive way and provide him with an alternative to engaging in negative activities.
Mark has been helped through both our drop-in work and through mentoring in the local high school. Older siblings have both been excluded in recent years and Mark was showing the same traits. After initial assessment and through knowledge of working with Mark in the drop-in we decided on a strategy of building his confidence, challenging his behaviour and providing the literacy programme “That Reading Thing”. Mark’s confidence has grown and his attitude in school has become more positive. He has won a Student of the Month award on a number of occasions and the school are confident he will avoid exclusion.
Parkour project in Wirral
At commencing the programme with Worth Unlimited, Keith (16) was renowned in the local area as one of the leading trouble makers who had a lot of time on his hands on the streets due to not being in education since aged 12. He had spent most of his time in the presence of other young men in the area who were well known drug dealers and each had their own criminal record. These were the peers Keith looked up to and wanted to imitate and therefore spent the majority of his time soaking up all they did and stood for without questioning his own views or giving any regard to his own choices and ambitions.
Some local community organisations had worked on some level with him before but his attendance and respect for these courses was very poor and he had shown very little progression through them. However since day 1 on the Parkour (Free Running and Movement) course with Worth Unlimited, Keith did not miss a single session. Every session he would get up an extra hour early to gather the rest of the group together. He trained hard every single day in between sessions, reading and practising whatever and wherever he could. He changed his diet to be more healthy to boost his level of skills, he listened to all the advice with regard to respecting his body and his environment and took it all on board. After a few weeks Keith's change in attitude and growth in skills was being taken notice of by other young people in the area. Keith quickly saw this as an opportunity to use this to be a positive role model in the community rather than those he used to look up to. He wanted to inspire and challenge others to a way of life demonstrating the way Parkour had opened up his eyes to a whole new world of opportunities and options.
Subsequent to this Keith also started 2 new jobs; one painter/decorator apprenticeship in the week (specifically requesting time off 1 afternoon p/w to finish our course), and a second position laying carpet on weekends. Keith stated he was enjoying standing on his own two feet, keeping at something and saving for special events such as going to Alton Towers with his uncle knowing that he had earned it. At this time we learnt that Keith had also stopped smoking cannabis and had cut right back on his drinking of alcohol as well as completely giving up the steroids he had previously taken to stay within 'the gang'.
On completing the 12 week course Keith was still holding down both jobs and had progressed so far with his Parkour skills that he had surpassed those who had been training for over 2 years. He had also encouraged others to make positive life choices and had himself made several other networks of friends who were a positive influence in his life for that very reason. He spoke with sadness not aggression of those around him who had not moved on and spoke so passionately about his great desires to carry on his new found path to greater and better things. Staff in our Wirral Branch believe wholeheartedly that this course really was life changing for this young person and the effects of that will continue to show themselves for years to come, in not just him but the areas he has also affected.Daz aged 18 has had phobia issues for many years which have affected his education. In particular he has been concerned what other people think about him and has felt that people talk about him behind his back and look at him like he is mad. The Psychologists wanted to put him on medication to help him calm his nerves, but he refused to take it saying that it made him feel drowsy.
Connexions Project in Waltham Forest
Daz was referred to Worth Unlimited when he was 16 but never stayed for more than 20 minutes. When other people arrived he would get up and leave and on one occasion walked in, saw other people were present and walked straight through the meeting room and out another door.
However the staff persevered with him and spent many hours talking with him and mentoring him on a 1:1 basis. We arranged for him to come out of his house and work at our office when it was empty of other young people. We started to organise short trips to the park and then to the cinema – all in consultation with Daz at a pace he felt comfortable with. The first trip to the cinema was organised for the first showing of the day and the cinema had noone else in it. The second trip was for a later showing and the cinema was half full.
Still for Daz, spending most of his days in doors living just with his nan and older brother was like living in a pressure cooker and eventually Social Services took the decision that it would be better for all to offer Daz some supported semi independent accommodation and he was given an opportunity to move away from the area. We continued to meet with Daz and mentor him through this transition helping him explore his feelings and settle into the area and identify the opportunities he was now presented with. The move to semi independence gave us an opportunity to describe life as an adventure rather than a burden and we started to explore together what adventures Daz could allow himself to have now he was more independent.
Some other young people in Worth Unlimited at around the same time had organised a residential on a canal boat and so it was suggested to Daz that he might like to come along for a day. He accepted the challenge. It was a long walk along the canal tow path to meet up with the boat. Along the way Daz became increasingly nervous. We rehearsed how he might like to introduce himself to the other young people. Daz kept telling himself just to get on with it and not be scared. When we found the boat, Daz introduced himself just as he had planned and immediately was welcomed by the young people. He had a great day, driving the boat, being shown by one of the girls how to operate a lock and having a meal with the other young people. He didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. This had been a big day – the first day he had spent with other young people for the best part of three years.
The next adventure was to think about the future that Daz wanted for himself. He said he wanted to live a normal life and he started to talk about going to college. We talked through the feelings this might stir up for him. He identified that he had managed to cope with meeting other young people on the canal boat and thought he should be able to cope with being among other young people in college. He was helped to enrol at two colleges and then in September accepted a place on a pathways course.
Daz has now
first half term
at college. It
has not been
easy. There have
but he says it
helps him to
talk about it
and to express
as well as focus
and what works
Wirral and Ellesmere Port
John, aged 11, was very nervous, hardly slept and would worry about everything. He was referred to our programme via CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services). As a group for our community challenge we decided to bake cakes and put on a show for the residents of a sheltered unit. John was extremely nervous about the show but practiced really hard at his magic trick. He was so scared at failing that his whole body was trembling just before his turn. However, he persevered and after he had finished got a huge round of applause. He was so buoyed by his effort that after the show, during the time that the residents talked with the young people and ate the cakes, he carried on showing his magic tricks to individual residents.
Wirral and Ellesmere Port
James, aged 10, has speech and language difficulties. Our programme uses extensive group work and James was initially reluctant to vocalise in the group as members of the group found it difficult to understand what he was saying. However, again, in the supportive environment of the group he continued to persevere and made some very useful contributions to group discussions. At the end of the programme we celebrated the success of the show at the residential home by having a meal at a restaurant. James thought it would be good to have picture of us all together and when I suggested asking a waitress to take our picture he was over and asking her before I had time to gather my thoughts. After participating in our programme, the young man who was initially reluctant to speak to people had voluntarily started a conversation with someone who didn’t know his difficulties.
Wirral and Ellesmere Port
Jack, aged 10, was an uncooperative young man, who was labelled as ‘naughty’ by schools and is known to the police. He was very sure about what he did and did not want to do. If the rest of the group did something he did not want to do he would be disruptive hoping to get his own way. Because of the flexible nature of the programme and the way it is funded we were able to pay a sessional worker to work one on one with Jack on outings. By the end of the programme Jack had discovered an insight into his own behaviour; for a celebration the group chose to visit the cinema but Jack did not want to do this. Instead of being disruptive, Jack put up his hand and asked to be taken home first. I was disappointed that he did not get the celebration that he wanted, but I was really pleased that he had recognised that he should go home instead of spoiling it for the rest of the group. This was a major achievement in Jack’s development.
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