Location: St Helens
Ravenhead Foyer is a community of 32 young people, aged between 16 and 25 that live together as residents of the Foyer, which is a supported housing scheme. The Foyer operates similar to a hostel in that it provides a housing need for young people who have been or are vulnerable to becoming homeless. A major difference in the Foyer from a hostel is that the Foyer offers learning support via personal development activities specific to the service users (young people) needs. These activities are built into a learning programme, which consist of 5 subject areas: Independent Living, Healthy Living, Citizenship, Future Choices and Move-on. Each individual young person is scheduled into the learning programme to attend the activities that match their support requirements as expressed by them in regular 1-2-1 support planning sessions.
Independent Living activities aim to develop the young persons skills in subjects such as personal hygiene, budgeting and time management. Healthy Living subjects will cover good nutrition, cooking healthy meals and physical fitness. Citizenship activities involve developing knowledge of the individuals rights and responsibilities within the community, cultural awareness and voluntary participation in local community projects. Job search, employability skills and seeking further training opportunities is provided through the Future Choices area of the programme. With the intention of progressing the young person into their own independent tenancy, the Move-on element of the programme delivers development activities to meet this need. Move-on support is also provided for up to 2 years after the young person has left the Foyer. And indeed many of the young people who when have left the Foyer, will return and attend activities they value as part of their continued personal development.
The use of digital media is now becoming common place within the Foyer's Learning Programme, as a tool in both supporting and addressing the young peoples development needs. In delivery of Healthy Living activities, the young people are inspired in developing their understanding of good nutrition and the cooking of healthy meals, by them participating in projects that imitate popular TV shows such Come Dine with Me and Ready Steady Cook. In these the young people team work in video recording themselves preparing meals, hosting guest and giving interviews. As well as directly addressing the young persons healthy living skills, vital social and communication skills are also developed from these projects.
One of our most recent projects, devised and delivered by The Mersey Forest Company and Groundwork Merseyside, aimed at encouraging community involvement and environmental awareness of young people in St Helens. The project 'Wild on Life' covered a 12 week period in which the young people of the Foyer participated in local conservation and team building activities with groups of other young people from the St Helens area. Throughout this project a professional film maker was employed to teach digital media for film making. With access to industry standard photographic, audio and video recording equipment, the young people were able to film their progress. From a combination of using the equipment on location and in media centre based sessions that provided access to film editing software, the young people were able to produce a short film of the project.
The completed Wild on Life film was then premiered in Cineworld St Helens to an invited audience of local dignitary, young peoples’ support workers and including friends and family of the young people themselves. The film has also been uploaded to the internet and can be accessed via the following links:
Project Dirt Liverpool
The Mersey Forest Online
Also within the Foyers delivery of Citizenship activities, we have partnered with Tenantspin Liverpool, a Liverpool based Community TV Channel. Within this partnership, young people from the Foyer join a diversely represented group from the Merseyside community, to debate issues directly affecting them. The issues debated cover subjects as wide as crime and disorder, climate change and community initiatives. These debates are filmed and streamed live on the internet, allowing the wider community participation of an online audience with them having the capacity to interact throughout the debate. Archives of these videos can be accessed from the Tenantspin and Livestream websites via the following links:
The use of digital media in the Foyers Learning Programme allows us to be creative with our delivery of development activities. Many of our young people move into the Foyer having had little mainstream education and or for a multitude of reasons, have suffered bad experiences of traditional classroom learning. This often leads to them to being under achievers that will self-exclude from education establishments like colleges and FE training providers. Therefore theres a need that the Foyer be creative in its methods of learning delivery, in order that its young people will not feel threatened by the learning situation offered them. By creatively incorporating and using digital media into our delivered development activities, the learning situation offered can then be extended beyond a traditional classroom delivery. This better captures the imagination of the young person, leading them to be engaged, be motivated and inspired in their learning.
In achieving learning outcomes from the use of digital media, the young person has what they recognise as a tangible product in the form of sounds and images. These products being familiar to them as those they access for entertainment purposes when using online social media such as Facebook and Youtube. This encourages the young person’s positive use social media as they will proudly upload to be accessed by the online community, their photos and videos created by them within learning situations.
Within the Foyer’s Future Choices delivery, the young people use video playback of their mock interviews so they can review their verbal and none verbal communication. This then allows them to identify development areas within their interview technique, which they can then practice and implement, further reviewing as they feel necessary. Using this method of learning has been successful in inspiring enough confidence in the young person that they will begin to actively seek employment.
Continued use of digital media by the young person instils acceptance of it as a viable learning tool. Also it creates a skilled confidence in its use and a wider understanding of how the technology is used within both society and industry. It’s not uncommon with these new skills and confidence, for the young person to pursue further education and employment opportunities they would have otherwise never considered.