Unbelievably I’ve been delivering Youthscape training now for almost 8 years – how is that possible!? When I first started the largest group I’d ever delivered any public speaking to was my youth group and now I’m heading up the whole of Youthscape training UK wide, it’s been quite a journey.
I counted up the other day that we’ve delivered over 150 regional events nationally in the last five years, that’s without the conferences, in-house sessions for schools, assemblies, festivals, churches and other youth organisations! That’s hours of activities, delivering key theory around mental health and relationships, leading discussions, sharing stories, laughing (occasionally crying!) and learning from other youth workers/ teachers/ churches along the way.
As a national charity, our training reflects just that. We offer training to the whole of the UK.
From the furthest points in Scotland to the far reaches of Cornwall, our amazing team of regional trainers are overly familiar with the network of Travelodge/Premier Inns across the country, along with an extensive knowledge of motorway service stations, drive through coffee establishments, train connections and airport terminals! We certainly cover a lot of miles but we all love that we get to meet those working with young people all over the UK and support them in the work they do.
For some of you, I imagine that travelling far from home to stand in front of a crowd of strangers may not be your cup of tea (or even the stuff of nightmares), however from the very first session I delivered almost a decade ago, I totally fell in love with it. I do however have to admit that I hold a strange (almost unhealthy) fascination with picking up and reviewing the feedback forms from the session I’ve just delivered, the moment the last delegate walks out of the door!
I scan the comments boxes, not just to see how much people enjoyed the teaching (although that’s always good to hear!) but I’m looking for three words. Three words that make me know I have achieved what I set out to do. Words that makes the miles of travelling, the preparation and achy feet worthwhile.
Those small words are always my aim. As a youth worker myself for almost a decade before I moved into training, for me it was always the fear of saying/doing the wrong thing when it came to tackling tricky subjects with my young people. The theology stuff never seemed to really keep me awake at night. It was the scary subjects like porn. STI’s. Self-harm. Suicide. Drug addition. Relationship dramas.
Laying awake in the small hours wondering how someone as ancient as me (in the eyes of my young people) could meaningfully have these sorts of conversations and actually sound relevant and informed to a degree that would have some impact!
I’ve been on a lot of courses over the years some much better than others (notably I shall not be repeating the two day course on practical ladder safety). But I’d say that the ones that stayed with me were the ones where I gained a knowledge about a subject that I just didn’t have before. It’s the sessions where I left with a handful of practical activities, conversation starters and tried and tested resources and couldn’t wait to get back to work to try them out.
That’s what I try to make all of our courses feel like. Everything we deliver training on is a result of years and years of experience and practical on the ground work in Luton. Hands up, some ideas and things we’ve tried have spectacularly failed, whilst others have worked and we’ve been able to adapt and improve on them over the years – it’s these that we get to share through our training.
Youth work is busy, but maybe next time you sit down with a coffee why not have a think about the subjects you wish you knew more about that could support you in your work? Have a think and let us know, I can’t promise we will be able to help on every subject but we just might know an organisation that can. We not only offer training around the areas of mental health and healthy relationships (formally Romance Academy), Youthscape also compile a list of unique one day equipping days for youth workers throughout the year on a huge variety of subjects. As the head of training I am always looking for new ideas or new areas youth workers would like to explore further, so do please contact us with any ideas.
If you haven’t had a chance to look around the new training pages on the website, please do, we now offer a really wide range of courses, with more being developed in the wings, so watch this space. And if delivering training for Youthscape may be something that interests you do please get in contact with me and I can explain more about the process.
Oh, and so you know it’s been a journey: a clear professional lowlight of the last few years came in the shape of an utter fail when delivering an anxiety course. The material covers the subject of phobias and featured (note the past tense!) an activity using balloons to illustrate the way young people catastrophise their fears. A gentleman in the session alerted me to the fact that he actually had a phobia of balloons and was happy to leave the room for the duration of the activity.
After the activity I gathered the balloons and decided that the best place to dispose of them was through the secondary door in the training room. Upon opening the door and throwing the balloons through the opening, I realised that the gentleman had walked around to the secondary door to re-enter the session and I had bombarded him with the thing he feared the most…on an anxiety course!