Steps to boost city youth engagement in Wolverhampton

The Way Youth Zone

Council bosses received a report on the city’s youth engagement strategy (#YES), which outlines activities and groups young people can get involved in and help lead.

These include initiatives such as the city’s youth council, young MPs, the anti-bullying charter – run by young people in conjunction with local schools – culture and diversity groups and community outreach programs. holiday activities.

The Council’s Deputy Director for Commissioning and Transformation, Andrew Wolverson, told members of the Families, Children and Young People’s Review Committee: “Everything we do falls under three main elements – being in good health, being you and being connected – and that’s what young people told us was important to them.

“Our ‘be you’ theme around engagement and participation looks at a number of ways young people can get involved in things in the city, such as being young MPs or joining a number of groups, including our council des jeunes, #OUI Board, Care Leavers Independent Collective (CLIC) Children in Care Council and Culture and Diversity group.

“Some of the successes we have had through these very active groups include engaging over 140 young people and conducting a survey of families about life in lockdown, which has directly influenced our program at the future – especially in terms of connecting with our green spaces and planning our holiday programs.

“A really huge area – and I’m sure it won’t be a surprise – is in mental health. Across the engagement and participation groups, a lot of work has been done around mental health awareness, including participation in a number of national campaigns.

“Our young people actually lead the anti-bullying charter, which two-thirds of schools are accredited to now. They make the evaluations of the schools that present themselves.

“Also, across the city, we had a turnout of 10,000 young people who voted for their young MPs, which is fantastic. Through our Youth Engagement Participation Committee, to date they have awarded over half a million pounds in grants to local and voluntary organizations to run school holiday activities.

“We are really proud of what we have accomplished. Just under 30,000 activities were carried out during the summer holidays compared to 12,000 last year.

Jackie Redding, Managing Director of The Way Youth Zone in School Street – which is the town’s flagship offering for young people – told members: “The Way is a fabulous building with incredible facilities. We offer a range of activities for young people from 8 to 18 years old and up to 25 years old if they have additional needs. We have junior, senior and family sessions and youngsters can do everything from football and rock climbing to cooking and music.

“The idea is that they come in and it’s a fun, safe and welcoming place and they get to try a lot of different things. At the moment, we see a little over 100 young people per evening.

Councilor Andrew McNeil said: “I think we all recognize the amount of work that has gone into youth provision in the city, and that is to be applauded. But in my parish there are very disadvantaged families and The Way is too far for them to go. It doesn’t look like we’ve reached the point yet where everyone has equal access. »

Mr Wolverson said: “We are actively reaching out to our suppliers and asking if they might consider supplying in other areas, so we are trying to get that spread. We have just ordered the October semester and are now looking at Christmas and February,”

Councilor Lynne Moran added, “In my ward we have far more children and youth living in poverty than any other ward. And what parents will say is they want a youth club on their doorstep, that’s what we had.

“The perception I have of a lot of parents is that they can’t afford to let their kids go to The Way, and I don’t think they would let them if there wasn’t a minibus there. -down.”

Ms Redding said: ‘Regardless of finances, we never turn anyone away. So please don’t let that be a hindrance. It’s five pounds for membership – which we frequently waive – and 50p when the youngsters come, and then they can do it all. But if they show up with no money, we never fire people.