A week after the visit to the Positive Youth Foundation of HRH Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, we have reflected on exactly what the visit meant to all involved.
Our thoughts flow between a truly humble outlook on our journey, to sheer excitement expressed by the young people and the city at large.
What is absolutely consistent within these emotions though, is the impact that the visit has made on everyone involved with PYF. From young people, trustees, partner organisations and totally independent well-wishers, we have seen an outpour of genuine gratitude that our brand of youth work has had its moment in the spotlight.
The feedback from young people continues to flow in, with recollections of conversations that were had not only with our royal guests, but also key personnel who represented our partner organisations such as the local authority and our funders. To call this a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity is true for some of the young people, but perhaps not for the city and the youth work sector, as we seek to build upon the momentum of the visit to continue to bring high profile opportunities to our city.
We have campaigned for youth work for more years then I care to admit. To see it positioned so highly within important strategic spheres is credit to the way in which our policy leads have recognised the value of youth work. Whilst we are fully aware that much more needs to be done, albeit with reduced resources, we are confident that the future looks positive. The new Coventry Youth Partnership is testament to the local youth sectors’ willingness to come together to provide credible services for young people. Whilst in its infancy, the progress to date has been solid and gives us a strong foundation to pull together with relevant stakeholders.
So the royal visit came and went, but our challenges and opportunities starkly lay ahead of us. Through the commitment of everyone connected with the Positive Youth Foundation and the Coventry Youth Partnership at large, we commit to ensuring that 2018 continues to bring about positive change for young people in our city and beyond.
Positive Youth Foundation
The 16th January will see their Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the UK City of Culture, including Coventry Cathedral, Coventry University and the Positive Youth Foundation.
The foundation specialises in assisting young people across Coventry into positive destinations. This occurs through targeted provision in the areas of education, health, creative and social-engagement programmes.
Recently, the foundation was heavily involved in Coventry’s successful bid to become the UK City of Culture, becoming honorary partners of the bid in the process. As part of the visit, the Royals will be shown how Coventry will be thrust into the national spotlight, with the Positive Youth Foundation showcasing how young people will play their part in this celebration of culture.
The Positive Youth Foundation has been working with young people for over two decades across Coventry. Many young people in challenging circumstances are dealing with issues related to poverty, the lure of gangs and family concerns. All of which can have a profound effect on their future lifestyle choices.
At the Positive Youth Foundation, we work with young people to help them overcome their barriers through targeted provision across multiple areas of engagement. For the young people of Coventry, the chance to talk to their Highnesses is an incredibly inspiring and significant moment for them.
Rashid Bhayat, CEO of Positive Youth Foundation, said: “The Positive Youth Foundation support young people through targeted education, health, creative and social-engagement programmes.
“We work with thousands of young people each year, in particular, when they find themselves in challenging circumstances. It is honour to showcase our work with the Royal guests, where they will see first-hand the support we offer through our mental health, social action and newly arrived young people’s services.
“Their Highnesses will meet groups of inspirational young people who have overcome many barriers and benefited from the support we offer. By meeting directly, we hope that they will gain a greater insight in to the multiple challenges young people face, as well as Coventry’s collaborative response to meeting such needs.
“We are incredibly proud of our city’s young people and our partnership-working, and will showcase its effectiveness during the visit.”
This time last year, the team at PYF met to summarise 2016, and what a challenging year it had been. From significant cuts to young people’s services, to an uncertain political landscape – we were surrounded by circumstances which were of concern.
But this is PYF, with the P, being Positive.
So, we looked forward to 2017 with vigour and resolve. We challenged ourselves to make the differences that we felt were needed, and what a year it has been!
We have been honoured to be part of a number of game-changing factors.
The high profile crowning of the UK City of Culture 2021 title, which amongst many outcomes, positions young people at the heart of our city is an achievement that many partners have contributed to. For our part, we delivered upon a statement we made early in this process, which was to create pathways for young people to connect with cultural experiences. We, alongside our partners, did just that – with our contribution crowned by the Changing Trax – Electric Proms event, which was part of a comprehensive creative offer for young people who would otherwise not have opportunities to access such provision.
We were also nominated to lead the local youth work sector, which was hugely cut due to austerity measures from central government. The closure of a number of youth centres across the city left gaps in provision and support available to young people. We pledged to aid the mitigation of this, and through the creation of the Coventry Youth Partnership – we have provided an instant response. Over twenty organisations have aligned to co-ordinate provision. Something which has been long overdue in the city, and provides a solid platform to achieve strategic and operational outcomes.
Our frontline delivery has seen yet another remarkable increase in community-based provision.
The education support programme we deliver (Raising Aspirations Programme) has a new delivery base. With the support of the local authority, our daily programme allows for young people most in need of support access to bespoke and flexible learning programmes. In addition to this, our European funded employment-focussed programmes continue to support those furthest from employment.
Our work to support newly arrived young people through our ‘Involved’ service continues to grow. Through mentoring and support, we have worked with hundreds of young people new to our city, to make them feel at home in what is now, their city. A group of Syrian young people had an incredible experience as they were awarded winners of the ‘Project of the Year’, quite literally, for the journey that they had been on to achieve the amazing outcomes that they have.
Our Positive Futures and Healthy Futures programmes have provided credible community-based services. Working out of neighbourhoods that have multiple support needs, we have been able to provide a range of opportunities for young people and partner agencies to deliver upon key messages of community safety, health and wellbeing and social action. Many of these programmes have picked up local, regional and national accolades, but awards sit on shelves, what remains is the impact that our partnerships make to the lives of young people.
A special thanks to our board of trustees, staff team and all partner agencies we have worked with during 2017. Your contribution to PYF is appreciated beyond words.
2018 promises to be a challenging year – but we like those.
Names in this case study have been altered for the sake of anonymity.
Macca was referred into our Raising Aspirations Programme (RAP) through his school. The school Macca attended are specialists in supporting behaviour with students who have a diagnosed learning difficulty and or disability.
Macca was referred to Positive Youth Foundation as the school wanted him to be supported with his personal development. During his first few weeks with us, his behaviour was challenging and his relationship with PYF staff members was poor.
Macca rarely engaged in classroom activities and during one of the classes he actually ripped up his workbook as he was adamant he did not want to engage in the work he had been set. Instead, stating his intention to be as disruptive as he possibly could. This behaviour was replicated outside of the classroom, as even when the tutors tried a different approach and made the activities more practical, he still refused to engage. Macca would also find himself engaging in dangerous activities such as climbing the building in which our RAP sessions take place.
As the weeks went on, PYF staff members eventually built up a relationship with Macca, resulting in him starting to engage in a more positive and constructive way during his time on the RAP programme. The change in Macca’s attitude towards his time at PYF was such that the PYF staff members found themselves praising Macca on a regular basis which seemed to have a positive effect.
Macca’s confidence was also lifted during these weeks and he actively engaged in classroom discussions and took pride in completing his work to a higher standard.
Even though the whole purpose of RAP is to change young people’s minds and perceptions towards their work and take them on a personal development journey, it is rare that you see a change in such a short time and a change that was actually initiated by the student themselves.
Well Done Macca!!!
One of the leading figures behind a new not-for-profit network, formed to ensure that crucial youth work continues in Coventry, says it’s vital that the city’s young people are given critical support in their lives.
Positive Youth Foundation is leading the network – Coventry Youth Partnership – which will run everything from youth centres through to targeted interventions.
Rashid Bhayat, Founder and CEO of the Positive Youth Foundation, said the network will be a national standard bearer for a collaborative approach to youth work and that the voluntary sector, working closely with Coventry City Council and other key stakeholders, would deliver high quality services.
He said: “It is absolutely vital that high-quality youth work is delivered across the city and the Coventry Youth Partnership will provide that. Coventry City Council is unable to run the service due to cuts in national funding.
“Even though it is a non-statutory service, Coventry City Council recognised its importance and has been instrumental in the creation of the Partnership, which is an exciting new way of delivering this crucial work.
“I was born and bred in the city and left education early. But people believed in me and gave me a chance. I started my first organisation when I was 17 and then moved in to a national role within a few years. This learning will ensure robust support mechanisms for a range of agencies.
“In 2011, I set up Positive Youth Foundation as an independent charity and over the past six years, we have shown that the way we work with young people in Coventry works.
“Right now, we work with intensively with around 2,500 young people and, through the new partnership, it will rise to 5,000. Each and every young person in the city deserves a chance in life and a safe place to go – this partnership of 20 agencies will help to provide that. Together, we will work to ensure that no young person is left behind”
The partners include organisations delivering specialist services, creative programmes, sport and mentoring services.
Rashid added: “This is recognition of the importance of youth work and the positive benefits it has on individuals and on the city as a whole.
“Young people need mentors and role models. They need safe places to go and adults they can talk to regardless of their circumstances. Our partners are committed to making this work.
“Coventry Youth Partnership offers an exciting opportunity for the city to get this right and to develop a generation of people who are proud of their city and benefit from the range of support it has given them. It provides a platform to celebrate young people, and for anyone interested in supporting our future generations to get involved through collaborative working.”
The organisation that has given youth a voice in Coventry ’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 has been made an honorary backer of the bid.
Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) has been given the title Honorary Partner for its contribution to the city’s efforts to land the title.
Young people from the organisation have given their views on what the city needs from a successful bid, how it would help to tackle social issues and how Coventry’s youth can play a leading role, should the city win.
Representatives from PYF also sit on the City of Culture Executive Board so have been at the heart of the bidding process from the very early stages.
Aside from that, the organisation has also been involved with Coventry’s UK City of Culture bid when it was launched at the Coventry Godiva Festival in 2016, were heavily involved in the judges’ visit to the city, delivered the final document to the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and also performed as part of the bid events programme at the Changing Trax – Electric Proms at Warwick Arts Centre.
David Burbidge, chairman of Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021, said: “ Coventry is a city that is, on average, seven years younger than the rest of the UK and we had to reflect that in the bid.
“Winning UK City of Culture is about way, way more than holding a great year in 2021 – it’s about leaving a legacy and making an impact on the city that will bring benefits for years, if not decades, to come.
“That impact will be felt by young people in the city so, right from the outset, we decided it was right to put them at the heart of our plans and involve them every step of the way.
“Positive Youth Foundation has been absolutely perfect in bringing us together with young people from a wide variety of backgrounds and in helping us to ensure the youth voice has spoken and been listened to throughout the process.
“We are, therefore, delighted to bestow the title of Honorary Partner upon PYF and look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
Susie Murphy, of PYF, said: “ Coventry has said from day one that it wanted to engage young people in this bid and have been true to their word – in fact the team behind the bid have been better than that.
“They’ve placed our young people right at the front and centre of what the city wants to achieve. By including young people in the governance of the bid – from executive board through to community engagement – they have given them the freedom to lead on some fundamental elements of the bid and that has been a brave and bold move but, in my view, has given Coventry’s bid a fresh, exciting and edgy element to it.
“Winning UK City of Culture is about way, way more than holding a great year in 2021 – it’s about leaving a legacy and making an impact on the city that will bring benefits for years, if not decades, to come.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Coventry needs to win UK City of Culture in 2021. There have been benefits to bidding but they are just the tip of the iceberg – Coventry could really see a step change socially, economically and culturally if we were to win it.
“PYF is proud to have been part of the bid so far and to become Honorary Partners.”Coventry City Council, The University of Warwick, and Coventry University are Principal Partners of the bid and are providing significant support. The Ricoh Arena is Bid Sponsor while Jaguar Land Rover, Adient, Friargate, Coventry Building Society, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham Airport, PET-Xi, SCC, Pertemps, and CEF (City Electrical Factors) are also Bid Development Sponsors.
To show your support on social media, go to @Coventry2021 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information, log onto www.coventry2021.co.uk
The Coventry Street Project run by the Warwickshire Cricket Board in partnership with the Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) won the Project of the Year at the Chance to Shine Annual Awards on Tuesday 14 November.
The Coventry project was recognised for their hard work supporting grassroots cricket and received their award from England cricket legend Devon Malcolm and Phil Smith from Sport England at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
The Chance to Shine Annual Awards, supported by NatWest, celebrates clubs, individuals and schools who help to spread the power of cricket and make the charity such a success.
The judging panel noted that the project a project is making a huge difference to its local community. Whilst achieving great levels of participation, they are also using cricket as a vehicle to improve community cohesion and help to integrate new people to the area.
Situated at the heart of the city, running from the Sydney Stringer Academy, with very little green space or nearby clubs for children to play at, the project offers a warm, welcoming place to come and play cricket. Apart from London, Coventry has taken in more refugees than any other and the project have welcomed many of these young people to the cricket sessions to help them feel a part of the city.
Chance to Shine has been working since 2005 to reverse the decline of cricket in state schools. By providing coaching in schools and extra-curricular opportunities, the charity has reached more than 3.5 million young people, 46% of whom are girls, in over 14,000 states schools across the country.
After receiving their award Cormac Whelan, Healthy Futures Programme Coordinator at PYF, said “It’s a real privilege to win the award and it’s a testament to the partnership between PYF and Warwickshire Cricket Board. It’s an acknowledgement of how much the children who attend are enjoying it and it’s just growing and growing.”
England cricketer Jason Roy, who attended the event, said “This has been an incredibly inspiring evening. It’s been fantastic to hear the powerful stories of the people who make cricket the amazing, inclusive game that it is. I’d like to congratulate Warwickshire Cricket Board and everyone at the Coventry Street team for all their hard work and dedication to the sport.
“Chance to Shine is a brilliant charity and they are working hard to make sure that every child in the country is given the opportunity to play and learn through cricket.”
Martyn Wilson, Head of Sponsorship & Hospitality, NatWest, said, “It has been a privilege to work with Chance to Shine this year as their first official partner. The Awards are a wonderful opportunity to put the focus on some of the many dedicated individuals who give up their time to support cricket at all levels of the game and we take great pride in being able to help recognise them.
“Chance to Shine does vital work providing educational and sporting opportunities to young people from every background all over the country, through the inclusive and diverse sport of cricket. These values are important to NatWest and this work is something we’ve made a major focus through our ‘Cricket has no boundaries’ campaign this season. We’re excited to help Chance to Shine continue this mission in the years to come and we extend our warmest congratulations to all of this evening’s winners.”
Luke Swanson, Chief Executive at Chance to Shine, added, “Our awards celebrate some truly inspiring people who use the power of cricket to ignite new passions, teach vital skills and unite diverse communities. Coventry Street is a shining example which richly deserves this recognition and thanks. They have made a real difference by giving so many young people their chance to shine, and we hope it will give that same opportunity to many, many more.”
The Positive Youth Foundation’s Young Leaders braved the cold for a day of marshalling and motivating the resilient runners of the Winter Wolf Run 2017.
A wake up call and a meet up at 7:30am on a rainy Saturday morning in November, saw a group of 15 sleepy faces, made up of staff and PYF young leaders, head over to Stanford Hall in Lutterworth for the winter edition of whats known as the “Best Obstacle Race 2017” (Awarded Gold by The Running Awards).
The race isn’t for the faint hearted, with the Winter Wolf Run seeing thousands of people take on a 10k race through a series of wet, muddy and endurance testing obstacles, designed to push participants to the limit of their endurance.
Our young leaders signed up as hype crew for the day, being tasked to cheer on the participants, lend a helping hand and ensure the race ran safely. Armed with a pack of high-vis jackets, a set of walkie talkies and of course, a packed lunch each, they split into smaller teams and were based around the course at different obstacles.
A day that started stood in a field, shivering in the rain during a safety briefing, ended full of positivity, energy and muddy, well, everything! The young leaders used their confidence, resilience and communication skills to encourage participants as well as engage in professional conversations with the coordinators and facilitators of the renowned event.
Spending a day at an event that tests the endurance and strength of character of all involved has inspired many of the group to want to take part in the obstacle race itself.
PYF staff are always filled with pride that our young leaders, are always willing to give their time freely and with few questions asked to support and engage in personal development. A standing ovation for the future leaders of our city!
Coventry’s youth teamed up with a classical orchestra to produce an unforgettable night of music.
Twelve musicians – aged between 16 and 22 – from Positive Youth Foundation’s Changing Trax programme took to the Butterworth Hall stage to perform their own tracks, supported by the Armonico Consort.
And the result was a stunning hour-and-a-half of music – mixed in with on-screen video – backed by the classical orchestra and the AC Academy Choir.
The audience heard original material from the young artists as well as covers of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida and Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah.
The event came about when young people on the project were asked what would make them feel like they had ‘made it’. It was agreed that being backed by an orchestra would be a dream come true.
With support from Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Heart of England Community Foundation, the dream was turned into a reality and saw the artist’s original music rearranged by Toby Young, former BBC Proms Young Composer of the Year, ready for an orchestral take.
Rashid Bhayat, who runs Positive Youth Foundation, said it was a great showcase of what young people can achieve if given the right support.
He said: “It was a truly amazing evening and so much credit has to go to the young people who have come through our Changing Trax programme.
“They said they wanted to do something and they got off their backsides and they did it.
“They’ve had some great support along the way and we have to thank everyone who has contributed to making this such as successful event.
“ It is our young people who would benefit the most from winning UK City of Culture – not just in 2021 but beyond that.
“And I must praise the team behind the bid because they said from day one that they wanted to engage the youth voice in the city and they have done exactly that, including having two seats on the executive board for young people from PYF.
“What Changing Trax – Electric Proms has shown is that when you give young people a voice, they can produce absolutely amazing results.”
Susie Murphy, development manager at Positive Youth Foundation turned director for the show, was overwhelmed with its reception.
She said: “The positive comments have been flooding in non-stop since the show. Many of which have ended in ‘how can I get involved?’
“This is exactly the sentiment we’d hoped to instigate, urging people to actively participate in their city and help support its fantastic young people.
“The journey that these young artists have taken, with the support of PYF staff, over the past nine months has been phenomenal.
“Within their musical rehearsals we have developed their understanding of what it is to be a good role model. On the night of the show, they themselves could see the impact of their positivity.
“I am absolutely fizzing with pride.”
Coventry City Council , the University of Warwick , and Coventry University are principal partners of the bid and are providing significant support. The Ricoh Arena is bid sponsor while Jaguar Land Rover , Adient, Friargate , Coventry Building Society , the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce , Birmingham Airport , PET-Xi, SCC, Pertemps, CEF (City Electrical Factors) and Listers are also bid development sponsors.