Interviewing Dave Savage (CEO of CCYS) allowed me to gain an insight into the youth who are engaging with the club and the importance of making sure that there are still youth clubs available within each community. In addition to the type of soft skills that are lacking with these individuals.
*The answers have been paraphrased for contextual purposes.
The purpose of the youth club and why should we still have youth clubs?
CCYS is an independent youth club with two locations In Crawley (Dormans Youth Arts Centre and Bewbush Youth Centre). Every week the youth club interacts with 350+ youth who engage with the clubs in various ways.
The up and coming generation does not understand the value of a youth club in comparison to the 20th century, were youth clubs where the prime place to meet up with friends meet new people of similar or diverse interest, comparison to the modern generation, today's youth do not have to leave their home to interact with their friends online.
Youths who engage with the club are those that are facing challenges at home and have difficulty adjusting to the demands of the society. These individuals still find it challenging to come to the club even where the infrastructure has been provided to them as they do not know/see the value of being in a room full of people that they have little in common with and holding a general conversation.
At the youth club, the primary aim is to provide a safe space where the youth can "ENJOY BEING YOUNG". A space that belongs to the young people, where they are empowered to create and transform the environment to reflect how they feel.
New initiatives have been introduced into the club to encourage participants to engage and to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. An example of some initiatives includes; cooking sessions, Boxing Club, a rock band and a partnership with Audioactive (a professional music group and have helped develop the likes of Rag'n'Bone man and Rizzle Kicks).
How important is the environment?
A Variety of youth clubs are required, as each youth club has a specific identity due to the audience it attracts. Bewbush is a very deprived neighbourhood within Crawley with a large number of dysfunctional families, while Gossops green is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Crawley, the distance between these two clubs is a mile.
One of the essential factors of having different youth clubs across the community is that it allows the youths to go to a different area and associate themselves with people of similar interest. The act of opening youth clubs is not good enough we need to ensure that these are space that allows groups to come together and form identity either through culture, Beliefs, Ethnicity or Sexual orientation in order to allow it to flourish.
The main problems that are tackled at the youth club level are community and identity. Identity is one of the areas we will be looking to cover through soft skills development in the next generation, helping them to identify who they are and where they see themselves in the future. One of the roles of the youth club is to help young people understand that the community belongs to them as much as anybody else and they have the power to shape it into what they believe will be best for them. Currently, they are now more focused on the online environment where they spend most of their time and the decline of face to face interaction (where there is no filter or mask but themselves) is harming the way they interact with people in real life and a lot of young people feel as though they have nothing to offer.
By helping young people get involved with local government forums, this gives them a different perspective on life outside of youth clubs or other types of constructs they are used too. Thus, opening their mindset to all types of possibilities and develops their thinking to complex problem-solving.
What are the problems faced with the current education system and its lack of emphasis on soft skills?
While schools limit student's ownership, forcing pupils to adhere to strict guidelines where they have no input and can not necessarily change the majority of their interactions throughout their school life. In the long run, this harms how they view life and can create a generation of risk-averse young people who are sitting and waiting for someone to tell what to do and could also result in individuals having a negative attitude to failure.
Secondary education needs to upgrade to emphasise that the need for school goes beyond achieving good grades and the memorising of facts but to develop social skills that allow the individual to be adaptable to a diverse range of environments.
It is not acceptable for the government to let people fail. A lot of young people are left with no option as they are cast aside by society with judgement quickly being passed on to them, with no one paying attention or listening to what their needs. For example, there is a young carer who had to look after their parent. As a result, their school attendance was poor and led to them missing out on significant milestones, including prom as a form of punishment. Other cases such as ADHD or Bi-polar also seems to be a common effect on students' poor attendance. A school environment is a tough place for some students to cope with.
Another problem faced in schools is the overpopulated classrooms with numbers now averaging 35+ students. The majority of students lack the necessary attention they require in order to progress, and most are suffering from undiagnosed ADHA or Autism with parents also being unaware of these problems due to their social situation. For those schools who have special educational needs support, with resources being thinly stretched, students with undiagnosed conditions are not afforded any additional support and in most cases are still waiting to be assessed and diagnosed.