Kevin Mullins, Community Youth Tutor at Kent County Council details how they are helping to engage young people into the community
I have been very fortunate in being involved in the delivery of one of the trial projects for social action opportunities for young people.
The aim is to evaluate the impact of participating on young people to prove the correlation between youth social action and the outcomes on children’s lives.
After the London 2012 Olympic Games, volunteering was looked upon in a different way with the benefits for both the recipients and givers being made obvious to all on an enormous scale.
This inspired the campaign for youth social action, ‘Step Up To Serve’, led by HRH The Prince of Wales, with cross-party support from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.
The ambition of the campaign is to enable 50% of young people to have the opportunity to take part in social action by 2020.
VAWK (Volunteer Action within Kent) are funded by the Cabinet Office Youth Social Action Fund to facilitate projects around the county.
As a Community Youth Tutor I am employed by Kent County Council and part-funded by the Canterbury Academy, where I am based 3 days a week.
VAWK’s youth social action manager Kelli Gardner and I assisted the student group from the Canterbury Academy in establishing their social action project.
Since its formation in May last year, the group have fundraised for and delivered positive activities for special needs students who access the Academy. They have also benefitted from a celebration event with a Paralympian, and they are planning for a reminiscing project with a local community 60 plus group which is due to start by the end of the month.
The young people have been on a very positive and productive journey. The project is made up of students from different year groups where many met each other for the first time.
The opportunity to volunteer offered a new and different experience; it allowed the students to identify skills they already had while developing new ones, most notably, empathy.
The project encourages a sense of service and responsibility towards others and provides a venue or developing relationships within the group and the wider community.
The various tasks they have set themselves along the way have allowed for reflection and experiential learning and have proven highly beneficial in preparation for future employment.
The importance of recognition has also been witnessed with praise and acknowledgement resulting in bursts of enthusiasm and a topping up of the necessary motivation and dedication essential to succeeding.
Most of all the young people have enjoyed themselves, found a voice, improved the situations of others and made genuine friendships.
Engaging in social action allowed the group to increase their level of social trust; they felt better connected to their communities and became increasingly aware and informed about current events. It is in this area that Kent County Council excels also.
There are huge opportunities for future leaders to hone their skills through youth forums and meetings, which occur in each district, giving young people a chance to speak their mind.
KCC also does a lot of work in supporting the young leaders of the future through its Kent Youth County Council (KYCC) elections and Youth Parliament. KYCC voices the views and opinions of Kent’s young people. It helps young people understand the importance of engaging in the democratic process and learn how their vote can make a difference.
With the continuation of these opportunities, Kent will ensure its young people will have the chance to lead successful and influential lives.
For more on the Paralympic visit, see: http://kccmediahub.net/celebration-social-action-gb-paralympian745
Community Youth Tutor
Kent County Council