Safe Spaces

Over the last 12-weeks we hosted a University student on our Time to Breathe and DIVERT schemes. Here he reflects on his time with us.

I came to Lancashire Youth Challenge not knowing what to expect; I knew I would have to devise a paper that correlated with the challenges currently faced in mainstream education, the question I asked myself was: ‘how was I going to do this at a charity?’ I asked a student at the boxercise programme how they were finding school, in which I encountered the alarming answer: ‘where would you like to start’. At that point I fathomed the importance of the initiatives at LYC to adolescents completely misunderstood by the education system. In essence, LYC provided and harboured a safe space for many young people to express their feelings and show off their potential.

The Divert Programme, which I was apart of, entailed an optimum blend of wellness sessions and fitness sessions to prepare the young people for the forthcoming residential. The wellness sessions covered an eclectic range of topics from drug use and friendship boundaries, to watching The Social Dilemma and discussing the ramifications of fake news and cyber bullying. To supplement these engaging sessions the boxercise initiative offered a release through the medium of physical activity. To be candid, some students were more engrossed than others, but they made up for this through valiant efforts and galvanising their peers. The boxercise sessions culminated into a self-reflection exercise where students ranked their efforts from red to gold; what surprised me greatly was the plaudits each student had for one another and the team-building effect boxing created. Whilst the wellness sessions developed mental awareness and resilience, the boxing activity boosted teamwork and self-gratification. The two sessions complimented each other perfectly to the point where the residential seemed less daunting or a cause for apprehension.

Within the Divert Programme I was a helping hand, offering support and advice on school-related matters or simply just an active listener. With the impact of LYC being evidently far-reaching I decided to devise my paper on ‘how the youth system supplements and supports the mainstream education’ as a preliminary title. Alongside this paper I had to perform a special project in which I borrowed two students to teach them the process of writing a personal statement, and more generally, the application system for applying for university. LYC focuses on celebrating the merits of each student, thus I thought by having two students contemplate writing a personal statement, I was feeding into this mantra of personal celebration. What I hope to have inculcated is that university is not an elitist form of education- it is open to anyone from any background. Even if these two students do not apply for university, I yearn that both of them come away from the workshop with a sense of self-belief and realise their academic potential.

I alluded to earlier the predicament on how I was going to compile a paper on mainstream education within a charity. What LYC offered for me was a different angle on how the education system can be bettered; without the schemes the charity has in place most of the students will have no place to express themselves and feel welcomed. I could have accepted a place at a primary school and dallied away reading Biff, Chip and Kipper Books, but at LYC I participated in a more enlightening placement with brilliant programmes (and staff!) that accommodated every individual.

Whilst my stint at the charity was truncated, I cannot put into words the brilliance of LYC and the fascinating young people they look after.

Thank you for reading this blog. On a slight tangent, I am looking for a full-time graduate job or volunteer as an intern or researcher at an NPO. If you have any vacancies, or know any companies hiring, please contact:

[email protected]