Your Resilience: supporting young people with social pressures at NCS

According to YMCA youth every region of England has each seen funding for youth services cut by more than 60% since 2010. These cuts mean there are less and less safe spaces where young people can go to, receive support and come together. Having a safe space is fundamental to the delivery of our Young People’s programmes, especially outside of the school environment. We undertake our supportive programmes in numerous settings and this summer we had the pleasure of delivering Your Reslience to the National Citizen Service (NCS) residential experience camps.

 

Young people are faced with many pressures today such as the relentless demands of social media, school and exam stresses and the pressure to meet the expectations of family and friends. In order to equip and empower young people when facing such diverse challenges, we delivered our social pressure workshops via Entrust at the National Citizen Service (NCS) residential experience camps.

The camps consist of a five day stay, away from home, where young people take part in activities that centre around independent living. We were delighted to have been involved and our experience of delivery at each site, was nothing short of extraordinary.

Over 38 days, we delivered an astonishing 228 social pressure one-hour workshops to 4,560 young people aged 16 and 17 from a range of diverse backgrounds. These workshops provided a unique opportunity for participants to explore and understand social pressures, mental health, and resilience in a safe and engaging environment. The impact on the young people we worked with was undeniable.

Here’s what some of them had to say about their experience:

"It was extremely beneficial staying in the wellbeing tent with my fellow peers, we enjoyed sharing our experiences of pressure and expectations and how we can strive to target such situations."

– Young person

"It allowed us to question aspects of our lives that cause stress or pressure. It opened our eyes and allowed us to see that we have a support network."

– Young person

What sets this delivery apart was our ability to adapt and engage, when faced with limited resources in an outdoor setting. We transformed tents and open spaces into vibrant learning environments where participants could fully immerse themselves creatively in the workshop, despite not being in a traditional classroom setting.

"It was very good. Makes you reflect on social pressures. Makes you reflect also on the part you play by making you accountable (e.g., not speaking up, bullying because friends do it.)"

– Young person

"It was fabulous. It made me understand how to overcome social pressures. Our trainer was so enthusiastic, which was amazing because it made me more willing to share my problems as a teenager."

– Young person

Eight training associates took part in the delivery across the North of England and Midlands, and they brought the content to life in a way that resonated with the participants.

Mark Roberts, one of the trainers who played a pivotal role in delivering the workshops, shared his thoughts on the unique experience.

"I really enjoyed being part of the multiple NCS days this summer, as it was such a different project to contribute to. Delivering outdoors, with no access to modern technology, created an obvious challenge, but as quickly discovered, it actually helped me, and my audience, to connect to both the content and each other on a much deeper level.”

– Mark Robert, Training Associate

Mark’s insights highlight the enriching and transformative nature of the Your Resilience workshops regardless of where they are held. The absence of modern technology contributed to a deeper connection among participants, making these workshops a profound and valuable experience for all involved.

“The conversations I observed and listened to were truly inspiring, and I think there is great value in discussing topics like social pressures in a completely new environment such as this. It was an uplifting experience and a real privilege to be involved."

– Mark Robert, Training Associate

The impact went beyond the workshops too as young people continued those powerful explorative conversations well into the evening. At Bibby’s Farm, Chorley, where we delivered workshops to over 700 young people, youth leaders discovered that during the evenings, young people were much more prepared to open up and talk about the challenges they were facing in their everyday lives.

Some of the young people also revealed they had caring responsibilities at home, which was hitherto unknown, and they felt confident enough to ask the youth leaders for support and help.

"In the sessions, I say that others may choose to ‘ignore’ what we say, but they can’t ‘unhear’ it. I guess that’s what’s happened this summer - the content, delivery, discussion, and thought-provoking topics have perhaps helped them lift the lid on their stuff and take a step a little later - that evening."

– Paul Heywood, Bibby’s Farm Training Associate

The overall experience of delivering Your Resilience at the NCS summer camps was extremely positive. Whilst the young people’s statements would support this, the data further exemplifies:

  • 88% of young people felt they had a better understanding of resilience
  • 90% of young people said they could use some of the tools they learnt in the workshop
  • 85% of young people said they feel better able to support family and friends after attending the workshop.

Our goal is to continue making a difference in the lives of young people and empower them to face life’s challenges with the tools and support we can offer them. If you would be interested to find out more about Your Resilience you can mail Your Resilience coordinator; Leah Kennedy: [email protected]

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