With Hang10, we aim to connect with the young people across Ashford in order to build constructive and affirming relationships that will help to encourage them to make more positive decisions about education, future employment, relationships, and emotional issues and responses in their personal lives and in their local community. Specifically our focus area consists of South Ashford and Stanhope, with a combination of routine and holiday programmes running throughout the year.
Our main method of delivery is via detached sessions where the team will drive to the various key areas on our planned route – such as parks, playing fields, specific shops – using one of the Hang10 vehicles that we have equipped for both leisure and educational purposes. By doing this we can engage with local youth in a non-invasive way and begin the crucial first-steps of strong, long-lasting relationship building – something at the heart of what we want at Uprising. Hang 10 partners with Ashford Borough Council and The Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust to deliver this project.
Hang10 started in 2011, and for the past 5 years has been able to establish, develop and maintain strong and positive relationships with many young people in Ashford. It was the first method of youth work that we delivered as a charity, and to date still remains a core activity of our work within the community.
Not all young people within the area will be able to make sessions all the time, let alone even know about them. Hang10 allows us to meet this need head-on by letting us go out into areas of Ashford to meet young people where they are at.
The project is commissioned jointly by Collier Ferguson and Ashford Borough Council.
A Typical Attendee
Due to the nature of detached sessions a typical Hang10 attendee will vary in age and type of character and home life depending on the session and which part of Ashford we are visiting. However, attendees to the activities session tend to be an equal mix of boys and girls aged between 7 and 11 years old. During our detached sessions we often meet youth from the age of 14 years and upwards.
Method Of Delivery
A typical Hang10 week consists of a set session at Cressfield/Hackfield Parks on a Wednesday afternoon and 2 detached sessions covering Stanhope/South Ashford/Victoria Park on Thursday and Friday evenings.
A typical detached session runs with 3 staff members and on average we will receive around 10 young people. However, the weather and school holidays can impact on numbers. In the summer however when the light and weather conditions are more favourable, we will expect to see on average around 20 children per session, increasing more during some parts of the school holidays. For activity sessions we take a significant amount of sports equipment, where we will begin to set up things such as football goals, swingball sets, and other games. What equipment we use will depend upon which children we have on session. The staff’s main objective for these sessions is to create a highly positive environment where the children feel accepted and able to express themselves, aiming to add positivity and affirmation into their lives in a way that they may not receive at home or in school.
For our detached sessions we operate with 2 staff members as a minimum and aim to take one or two volunteers out with us also. By vehicle we drive to the specific areas on our planned route covering Stanhope/South Ashford/Victoria Park. We don’t aim to visit every spot on the route each session because that would limit the time we spend t the locations. This allows us to have a consistent list of places to target so that, if we arrive at one location and find there are no youth on a particular night, we can head to another spot on our route. Additionally, if we meet a particularly unresponsive group of young people in a certain place, we can simply move on to our next area. Our aim is never to ‘force’ a relationship but ultimately allow it to develop in a natural way. Upon meeting a group of young people our aim is to engage with them in an appropriate way, clearly identifying who we are and what we do, and asking if they would be happy for us to have a chat with them. If the answer is yes then conversations can be open to anything, however it is essential to remain professional throughout and bear in mind that our focus is to build long-lasting and strong relationships with the young people. Therefore, the conversations are aimed at meeting their needs and interests. Typically, conversations last between 15-20 minutes unless the young people actively want you to stay longer.
Progress for both sessions is primarily measured by levels of attendance (recorded on attendance forms), and also how many of the young people we meet that we can get engaged with other projects we run – such as becoming regular attendees at one of our permanent youth club venues.
We regularly attend the Street Workers Forum to develop our working relationship with other youth work providers in Ashford, and also to keep up to date with any issues that may have come up that we will be best suited to attend on our detached sessions. We also have quarterly review meetings with the Ashford Borough Council project sponsor.
On detached sessions especially we hope to achieve the start of a relationship with each young person we encounter that we can develop into something more long-lasting than just a ‘one-time’ meeting. We don’t just want to meet young people on session and not meet them again, but instead to be able to develop some form of consistency in order to have a more positive impact in their lives.
Ultimately, we want to impact each young person in such a way that they begin to question the life choices that they are making to examine further if they are taking decisions that will be to the detriment of themselves and those around. Through the building of strong and sustainable relationships we hope to create an environment where each young person will feel confident and comfortable to bring issues to us so that we can not only begin to offer help and support through various means, but more importantly to allow them to start helping themselves. We want to show a love and respect for each young person that we meet that they are not necessarily used to receiving in their everyday life, which we believe can plant the seeds to result in a positively changed mind set which will eventually lead to personal change, family change and even community change. We are confident that through doing this we will see a reduction in ASB offences committed by each young person, a desire to stay on a positive life path and a willingness to add back to the local community in a constructive way.
Attendance and engagement on Hang10 sessions has remained fairly consistent. A better way of measuring success however is to examine how engaged young people have been with us after initial meetings and have the relationships formed been able to last. There are 5 key ways that we have seen this:
Through consistent attendance and engagement on sessions
A deepening of relationships with young people in attendance
Being sought out and able to offer support, advice and help in various life situation
Providing a positive atmosphere during sessions which is important in individual, family and community life, and as a result seeing a resulting decrease in anti-social behaviour
Willingness to crossover with other projects such as House, Hub, CAT and Aspire
Considering that Hang10 was the first service that Uprising offered, it can be argued that many if not all subsequent projects that we have been able to create have come off the back of our extremely successful first Hang10 sessions and the benefit that it has to not just individuals but the community as a whole. From the relationships formed through detached sessions we have been able to gain volunteers for CAT sessions, have a more permanent presence within Stanhope, recruit pupils for our Aspire course and even help represent various young people at school and social work meetings. To date we have also been able to regularly help past Hang10 attendees with personal help such as CV writing, resulting in successful job applications where the young people have obtained paid employment as a result.
Within sessions, the challenge remains to find successful ways of creating the initial engagement with each group of young people and then leading the conversations in ways that allow the young people to be open with us and not withdrawn. Each member of staff on session will bring their own style and way of doing this and so there should not necessarily be a set way of doing this, but each member will have a personal challenge to develop their own style and skills.
A second challenge is to make sure that we have appropriate equipment and activities readily available whilst on session. The nature of Hang10 means that we can never know for sure how many young people we will receive on each session and therefore what the group dynamic will be like, and so it is essential to be able to operate with a flexible approach in order to work efficiently.
Finally things outside of our control, such as the weather and school holidays, can affect sessions by dramatically altering the average numbers of regular attendees to sessions. This puts added pressure on staffing and so it is necessary to ensure that appropriate planning is in place in order to be able to effectively deliver sessions even at times such as these.