Gloucester Youth Project

A young man using a shovel to add soil to a planter in The Friendship Cafe car park. Two young people are our allotment. One is holding down a sheet of wood, the other is using a saw to cut it. 6 people in a group in a field. 2 of them are using a tape measure to measure the distance between two trees. Group of 3 young people in a field. Two of them are carrying a bench, about to put it into pre-dug holes.

The youth project uses time banking and community involvement to help with the personal development of young people. We work closely with Gloucestershire Youth Support Team, local schools and other groups who refer young people to us whom they feel may benefit from this type of community work. Some of the young people have had a troubled time at school. Some are just anxious about finding their place in their communities or unsure about their future prospects. Many face self-confidence issues.

We engage the young people in community activity through practical projects – DIY, gardening, decorating etc. It’s a hands on approach where they learn practical skills whilst helping people directly in the community. For example, a group of young people may go to an elderly participant’s garden who has had her fence blown down. The young people take on this job and learn as they go. This could be as simple as learning how to properly hold and swing a hammer, or learning about mixing concrete.

We try very hard to work to the young people’s needs and requirements taking a flexible approach. Some benefit from one to one work, others do better in a group setting. We try to ensure there is a good variety of activity to keep them interested but also to sometimes push them out of their comfort zone. Many get to try things they have not thought about before, and are surprised to find out different things that they are good at. Slowly we bring the young people into the wider Fair Shares project, working alongside people of all different ages and backgrounds.

The benefit to the young people has been primarily to increase confidence and wellbeing. Many of them have gone onto paid jobs or back into education. We feel that the success of this work is due to a number of reasons. The most obvious is the development of their practical skills which they get to use immediately to help others in the community. This provides a huge boost to their confidence and self-worth. For some this is the first time they have actually helped other people and received recognition for that. The work also helps to open up future aspirations. Lastly one of the biggest things we can offer is informal mentoring and support by others in the time bank. This can be from people who they are directly working alongside, or even those they are helping.