How the work evolved – 2005 to 2014

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St. Peter’s Youth (SPY) 2005 to 2014

How the Work Evolved

SPY began life as a result of priorities identified by Ashton Regen. and its successor infrastructure organisation, the local development trust known as St. Peter’s Partnerships. Initially based elsewhere in the West End of Ashton, SPY’s work was greatly enhanced when it moved into Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre (HTCCC).
SPY, the St Peter’s Youth Project, was a community based organisation operating in St. Peter’s Ward, Ashton, a deprived area of Tameside. Its aim was to contribute to breaking a cycle of disaffection experienced by young people, by de-commissioning existing services and implementing a ‘Grow Our Own’ approach to youth work.

In 2002, extensive research and consultation was carried by the Halsall Consultancy (Report: Needs of Children and Young People in the Ashton Renewal Area of St. Peter’s Ward, 2002) in the Ashton Regeneration Area with agencies, residents, parents and young people. A wide range of issues and concerns were identified, many by the young people themselves, specifically:

a high involvement in anti-social and criminal behaviour; low levels of educational achievement; low levels of literacy and numeracy; high levels of youth unemployment; a low level of parental support; a large number of young people suffering from low self-esteem; many young people with low expectations for their futures; a shortage of positive role models; a high number of homeless young people; a shortage of voluntary/community organisations supporting young people.

The findings also confirmed that young people in this area were growing up in segregated communities with little to support racial integration between the Asian and White community. Although there was no evidence of racism amongst young people, all of those interviewed said that they thought there should be more activities to bring the two communities together in all age groups to prevent the type of riots experienced in Oldham summer 2000.
It was felt that a holistic programme of activities was needed:

to break a cycle of negative behaviour, change the way in which many young people thought and enable them to develop the life skills needed to become responsible citizens.

The report stated: “We must break the cycle of disaffection and change people’s expectations and attitudes to life if we are to make any significant long term change within the Ashton Regeneration Area.”

The death of Victoria Climbié exposed shameful failings in our society’s ability to protect the most vulnerable children. On twelve occasions, over ten months, chances to save Victoria’s life were not taken. Social services, the police and the NHS failed, as Lord Laming’s report into Victoria’s death made clear, to do the basic things well to protect her.

The outcomes highlighted by Lord Laming in the report Every Child Matters are;

  •  Being healthy: enjoying good physical and mental health and living a healthy lifestyle
  •  Staying safe: being protected from harm and neglect
  •  Enjoying and achieving: getting the most out of life and developing the skills for adulthood
  •  Making a positive contribution: being involved with the community and society and not engaging in anti-social or offending behaviour
  •  Economic well-being: not being prevented by economic disadvantage from achieving their full potential in life.

These were seen as the critical high-level outcomes for a project like SPY. However, given the local issues and barriers young people faced SPY’s focus was directed to more local outcomes.

In 2005, services provided through mainstream providers were decommissioned and replaced with a ‘Grow Our Own’ youth work initiative, promoted by the St Peter’s Youth (SPY) project which aimed to address the issues highlighted in the area, in the belief that the solutions lay within the local community – the local community being the solution rather than the problem. The following outcomes and aims were adopted:

  1. A reduction in anti-social behaviour.
  2. Young people are safe and healthy.
  3. Improved employment and training prospects and educational achievement.
  4. A sustainable, strong and cohesive community.

Central to the achievement of these, was the empowerment and inclusion of local community members who volunteered, received training and moved into casual, part-time and full-time employment.

Activities to achieve the outcomes included providing young people with things to do and places to go through the volunteers and staff in the project, offering activities seven days a week. The bringing together of young people from across a geographically and racially divided community was designed to address the concerns of the project ‘sleep walking’ into segregation.

The initial ‘Grow Our Own’ project was piloted with 8 unemployed young men from the local community, who received basic community sports leader training as volunteers, were CRB-checked and then worked on a summer programme delivering sports to local children.

Following the success of the pilot and decommissioning of services, there was an increased level of ‘Growing Our Own’ activity and training, including Levels 2 and 3 in Youth Work, higher level coaching qualifications, training in outdoor education, basic expedition leaders’ award, climbing.

Through this process, funding was attracted from the Rank Foundation, Big Lottery and Working Neighbourhood Fund of £1.2 million. This funding covered the period to December 2011. A further £570,000 was obtained to fund ongoing work until December 2014.

The ‘Grow Our Own’ approach contributed to the following achievements in the area against the desired outcomes which were:

    1.  A reduction in anti-social behaviour.
      By 2011 a reduction of 61.5% had been achieved.
    2.  Young People Safe and Healthy – Reductions in hate crime as an indicator of community cohesion.
      Over the three years from 2008 to 2011 a reduction of 34.5% in hate crimes was recorded.
    3.  Improved employment and training prospects and educational achievement.
      Over the life of the project 88 volunteers were trained, with over 50% moving into employment
    4. A sustainable, strong and cohesive community. Evidenced by case studies.

In a survey undertaken by Tameside MBC in 2009 comparing attitudes of residents in St. Peter’s Ward. The project was seen to have achieved:

  •  23.4% fewer people saying that teenagers causing a nuisance was a problem.
  •  21.9% fewer people saying that they were worried about witnessing gangs on the streets.
  •  29.6% fewer people having actually witnessed gangs on the streets.
  •  19% fewer people thinking teenagers hanging around was a problem.

Most striking of all was the substantial added value calculated and captured in a report quantifying Social Values of the Community Sector. Speaking of SPY’s social return on investment, the report stated:

‘The forecast net SROI for the St. Peter’s Youth Project based on the core outcomes used in the SVMF is 77:1. That is, an estimated £77 of social value will be generated for every £1 spent on the project between April 2010 and March 2011’. We are in the process of having this report independently reviewed and we believe strongly that our project creates great value for your grant investment and for our community.’ (Commissioned through Northwest Together We Can 2010)

(The report can be obtained by contacting the C4EO team.)

Cultural and Organisational Change

The most significant change is evidenced by the reductions of youth causing annoyance. Young people now feel better listened to, better represented, better cared for and provided for with greater hope for the future. Research through SPY’s Youth Committee – “Youth Truth” found that when young people were asked to rate specific matters from very poor to excellent, these were their responses:

  •  Do you agree that you have opportunities to enjoy and achieve – 80% said excellent or very good.
  •  Do you agree that the area is a safer place to live – 57% said excellent or very good.
  •  Do you agree you have a voice – 74% said excellent or very good.
  •  Do you agree the project brings young people together from different backgrounds – 84% said excellent or very good.
  •  Do you agree the project brings young people and the community together – 72% said excellent or good
  •  Do you feel supported in developing qualities and skills for the future – 71% said excellent or very good.

St Peter’s Partnerships as a community charity embedded the ‘Grow Our Own’ strategy into all of its service areas and, wherever possible, looked to employ local people through the engagement in volunteer opportunities, training, and leading to employment. Of those employed, 70% were from within the Ward.

The project given its positive outcomes particularly around cohesion was asked to develop the model ‘Grow Our Own’ in another area of Tameside.

Also worthy of note are the 4 national youth work awards:

  1.  The Children and Young People Now Awards 2007: Work Force Development Award: St. Peter’s Youth (SPY) Grow  Our Own
  2.  Awards for Bridging Cultures 2009: Cal Kelsall, St. Peter’s Youth (SPY).
  3.  The Children and Young People Now Awards 2011: Youthwork Award: St. Peter’s Youth (SPY)
  4.  The Children and Young People Now Awards 2011:Children and Young People’s Champion: Carl Kelsall, St. Peter’s Youth (SPY).

A series of projects were undertaken under the auspices of a variety of different funders including the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, the Rank Foundation, the Getty Foundation, The Big Lottery. There projects included, High-SPY and InSPYre.