I think I’m in Manchester for #YWS14

…but I feel disconnected.
At previous youth work summits I have had weeks of build up making plans, discussing things via twitter etc.

This year is different. [For reasons I am yet to blog about] I have been too busy to stop or to prepare myself. Just sitting here reading the programme for the first time it is dawning on me how much I have been rushing from one thing to another without space to breathe. I’m really hoping, actually please pray, that I am able to switch off from everything else and fully engage in the moment. And get much needed refreshment and inspiration throughout the day.

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It appears that my old Yahoo email address was ‘hacked’ earlier today and spam messages were sent to everyone in my contacts. Sorry. Annoyingly this also included the post-by-email addresses for my blogs which spread the spam to my blogs, twitter & facebook as well probably other places I haven’t yet found. If you have received a suspicious email from me earlier this morning please do not open it or click on the link. Not quite sure what I did to enable it to happen, as I’m usually very careful with not clicking on suspicious links and websites. Hope you are having a great day!

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Youth Residential? What’s The Worst That Can Happen?


It started on the journey to the residential centre. A joke between leaders (referencing the Top Gear OAP car) almost resulted in a severe beating by a group that were quite possibly Paralympic rugby players. We talked our way out of a pasting, but not a good start to the trip. However also not the worst that could happen.

On arriving at the residential centre, everything initially seemed to be going well, until the our group started to strip the building of anything they deemed of value, pipe work, locks, taps, roof lead etc, before disappearing into the woods in all directions with their loot. Not all of the young people left however. One stayed behind and started a Hot Fuzz style armed battled between himself (armed with a shotgun) and two or three of the remaining leaders (armed with a blunderbuss). It did not end well.

Ok, clearly this was a dream. A bad dream. It would appear that I was getting more anxious than I realised about the upcoming residential. It will all be ok, I’m sure. However if you are planning a Youth Residential or trip to Soul Survivor and someone ways “What’s the worst that can happen?” feel free to point them here and I dare you to work some of this into your Risk Assessment. In fact if you do get any reference to this in your risk assessment I want to see a copy of that document.

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Imaginative Partnerships the Trick to Unlocking Funding

It was reported in our local press (or download pdf if article expires) that a partnership between Suffolk Mind and Churchs’ Conservation Trust has secured £3.6m of funding to restore and re-purpose St Mary at Quay churchas a ‘community wellbeing centre’.

St Mary at Quay

St Mary at Quay, Ipswich

This is an excellent case study on how imaginative partnerships can provide access to funding that might otherwise have been unavailable. I would suspect that securing funding for a basic restoration would be very difficult, if not impossible. Without a clear purpose for the restored building there would surely be little to distinguish this church from the many other redundant churches that could also benefit from restoration. Likewise sourcing funding for a new building, or conversion, for Suffolk Mind’s use would be similarly difficult and take a great amount of work and fund-raising. But combined they have been able to secure funding.

It would appear that Suffolk Mind has gained much more from this arrangement – in that through this imaginative partnership they have been able to access funding intended for “sustain[ing] and transform[ing] our heritage” and using it for what is arguably predominately a mental health project. Granted much of the actual capital will be spent on the fabric of the building and it is another step in the process of restoring the whole waterfront area, but the long-term benefit gained from this funding will in reality predominately be found in mental health & well-being.

Chasing funding can be a struggle for many youth workers and youth project, especially in the present financial climate. This case study, although from a different sector, is a great reminder of the benefit of using imaginative partnerships to unlocking funding which would otherwise be unavailable to us. This is not about partnering with similar organisations to increase the size or efficiency of our funding applications. But bringing together very different organisations to devise unusual projects of mutual benefit that will stand out and appeal to potential funders. Examples for youth sector could include a similar partnership of a historic building charity with youth project that needs a venue, a mobile youth project with a historic vehicle collectors, employment or skills training organisations with an old building in need of restoration. The opportunities for partnership are as limited as our imagination and our ability to network & build professional relationships.

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Just seen a job advertised where an Enhanced CRB check is a requirement, but the employer is asking potential employees to pay the £44 cost of the check. All of the jobs I have applied for the employers have always paid the checks. Not sure what I think about this, seems wrong somehow. If uniform is a requirement then my understanding is that the employer is responsible for paying, but employees can be asked to pay for CRB. Thoughts?

Who should pay for CRB checks, Employees or Employers?

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