Becoming A Young Assessor
Holly meets a group of Bristol City Council’s Young Assessors and hears about their experiences on the project in the build up to the next round of recruitment.
Bristol City Council is committed to ensuring young people’s voices are heard and taken into account.
Bristol City Council is committed to ensuring young people’s voices are heard and taken into account. Bristol Youth Links provide services to children and young people such as youth groups, play services, advice and guidance, and support to help young people volunteer and get involved in their communities. The job of the BYL Quality Assurance Team is to look at all of these services and asses them to try and improve their quality, and to ensure they are safe and reliable for everyone who uses them.
Now what better way to assess groups that work with young people, than to have young people assess them? That’s exactly what the Council thought when they created the project: BYL Young Assessors. The project has been supported and approved by the Bristol Youth Council who have campaigned for young people to have such crucial roles in the decision making.
The 2015 group consisted of young people who lived and went to school in five different areas from around Bristol, from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and included young people with varying disabilities.
The aim of the programme has been to equip the young assessors with the skills, confidence and knowledge needed to perform their role with empathy and objectivity. The three different elements of the programme focused on:
1. The Training Process
The training allows the the Young Assessors the chance to gain new knowledge, learn transferable skills, and to practice their learning in the group setting. They form opinions, engage in debates and develop their confidence.
2. The Monitoring Process
The Young Assessors use their knowledge, skills and confidence to carry out monitoring visits at a variety of youth and play sessions.
3. Reflective Self Evaluation
The evaluation identifies and tracks the young persons developmental progression. All of the feedback is used to adjust the following training programme where the YA are invited to become co-trainers.
Holly chats to Jade (18), Hannah (15) and Asja (16) to find out from them what it was like.
What were you doing before the training and what do you do in your spare time?
A: I was studying at school and I wanted something extra to do. My favourite subjects are Geography and Science but I’m not sure what I want to do when I finish- maybe go to University.
H: I was at school studying for my GCSE’s, my best subjects are Health and Social Care and Business Studies. I volunteer at Hillfields youth centre and I’m also a mystery shopper testing public health services like chemists and pharmacies to see the treatment young people receive.
J: I was at college studying Maths and English and I volunteer for Listening Partnership on Monday’s and Hillfields on Saturday’s.
Tell us a bit about what the training involved?
J: The training was a great chance to learn about everyone on the program with team activities and icebreakers.
A: The training prepared us for assessing youth services. We were told what to look out for, what questions to ask, and about the variety of different projects we would be visiting- it could be an open access group, a closed group or a youth project.
H: The training was on a Thursday evening every week. As well as training, we also have the chance to interview staff and speak to the Youth Council.
What did you learn during the monitoring visits?
A: It’s important to get involved with the activity and form a relationship with the young people so it’s easier to ask them questions. We asked the young people questions like if they had gained confidence from coming to the session.
J: I had some really positive conversations with the young people who were at the groups. Once you get on their level then it’s much easier to be open.
H: The young people find it a lot less intimidating to talk to us because we are a similar age. It’s much harder to talk to an adult.
What is the main skill you developed during Young Assessors?
H: Definitely confidence. And communication skills. I’m now confident enough to start conversations with strangers. I now have the confidence to talk to others at school that are outside of friendship group.
J: I’ve developed and understanding of how people run groups in different ways. I’ve used the skills we learned in the training but I’ve also developed new skills. I’ve definitely gained more confidence talking to new people in person and on the phone.
A: I’ve definitely developed my confidence, and I can no talk to people I usually wouldn’t have. I’m able to share and communicate my opinion in a delicate and constructive way.
Would you recommend being a Young Assessor?
H: Yes. It’s made me realise that even when people are very different, you can always find something in common. And that’s it’s important to accept differences and look out for one another.
J: Definitely. It really educates you and gives you first hand experience about loads of different stuff. It was really interesting to see how different groups work with young people with disabilities.
A: Yes. It’s a good opportunity to get out there and talk to new people and learn new things. It’s a good experience.
What do you see yourself doing in ten years time?
H: I want to be an excellent youth worker so that I can make a difference in young people’s lives. If they are struggling with a problem, I can help them get over it using my own life experiences. The YA training caused us to make objective judgements so I now know what is good or bad. I now help Hillfields plan sessions and deliver projects to young people.
J: I want to be a youth worker. I have gained experiences as a young assessor seeing what Marie (YA mentor) does, and it’s been really helpful learning from her. Young Assessors helped me decide that I definitely wanted to be a Youth Worker.
A: I want to make sure that I have a job that I like. I think it’s so important to enjoy your work. I also can’t wait to travel and be independent.
After speaking to the group I heard from Rachael (15), and Sarah , two of the Young Assessors, on how they benefited from the programme:
There are just so many ways I benefited from YA. My self-esteem has improved tremendously and my confidence has increased. The whole programme has benefited me so so much. It has helped me become a different person all together.
The training has been brilliant. As young people, we’ve been able to form judgements, articulate them and have influence over improving the quality of services. It was so nice to meet and work with different people, which helped build my confidence and improve my future prospects.
It’s been brilliant to hear the Young Assessors talk so positively about their experiences on the programme, and it’s clear they will continue to do great things. Luckily for you, the Young Assessors programme 2016 is open for applications and you have until Wednesday 6th July to apply. Check out all of the details on Rife Guide.
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