Senior government ministers and other senior government officials attending the 10th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (10CYMM) got a feel of the impactful work some UK organisations are doing to support young people in London. The UK’s National Youth Agency facilitated visits to four innovative youth work projects to showcase different approaches to common challenges.
The visits were arranged to inspire those working with young people who will then have real-world examples which can be replicated across the Commonwealth.
One visit, to the Oasis Hub Waterloo, offered delegates the opportunity to see how the organisation provides a wide range of open-access support for young people to help them to learn valuable skills and make positive decisions as well as offering tailored support to those at risk of involvement, or are already involved, in the criminal justice system. They also deliver services to young people who need health support.
Commenting on the centre’s work, the Youth Service Manager, Jordan Gayle, emphasised that the best results come by building strong interconnected ecosystems that cut across the services that young people need, including education, health and emotional development.
Responding to questions on how to gain the trust of young people, the Oasis team reiterated the importance of liaising with young people in their natural spaces and settings, as well as engaging them in meaningful ways.
One of the highlights of the visit were the positive reactions during an interactive session where participants shared practical ideas and approaches, while identifying areas for collaborative opportunities.
Government ministers’ reflections
The Minister of Education and Social Development in Anguilla, Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers, said the collaboration among the agencies that work with families, youth workers, parent groups and schools that was showcased at the Oasis Hub centre is a positive and effective strategy.
Her comment echoed the thoughts of the Minister for Youth, Sports, Culture and Heritage in the Cayman Islands, Bernie Bush, who suggested that, where roles and responsibilities cross over, areas of convergence should be teased out to avoid a tendency to work in silos.
This tour of the centre was the first in a series of site visits during this year’s 10CYMM, a platform for Ministers to discuss emerging youth development issues as the Commonwealth celebrate 50 years of youth development in the Commonwealth.
During the week-long meeting, visits to three other organisations were also arranged. Early in the week, delegates went to the Salmon Youth Centre, which has been reaching out to young people from all backgrounds in inner-city London for over a hundred years. The centre welcomes around 500 young people every week and is committed to building long-term relationships with young people through regular social interaction.
Also on the itinerary, was a visit to Mary’s Charity, which offers support services to vulnerable young people affected by violence, provides therapeutic care and life skills. The team also facilitated a visit to Mary’s Youth Club which presented an opportunity for delegates to view a safe space for young people where they can use computers, learn skills, play sports and engage in other leisure activities. The community centre also offers a conduit to other health and social services.
Ijeoma Onyeator Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat