About Si Claridge

Si Claridge is a qualified Youth and Community Worker and University Lecturer. Currently Si manages two sites of interest. The first is Algorithm of Youth Work exploring working with young people in informal and community settings. The second is siclaridgephotography.wordpress.com a site dedicated to photography.


Been doing some work today preparing some training for Barnet TYS, revisiting some thoughts about curriculum/outcomes focused work with young people.  I realise the word curriculum could well be anathema to many practitioners.  However, I have found it a useful frame of reference.  Attaching a link to some training support materials.  



Healthy Endings

Never underestimate the power of youth work.  It’s a way of working with young people that, at its core, is about meaningful relationships, relationships defined by clear boundaries, which seek to engage, motivate and inspire.

ImageI have been priveleged to work with The London Youth Involvement Project for the last year with a group of remarkable young people.  Sadly, that work is coming to an end as the permananent project officer is returning to to take over, the fantastic Nicola.  We often fail to recognise the importance of “healthy” endings.  With this in mind our ending of this phase of the project was to have a day out enjoying each other’s company and challenging ourselves with some exciting activities including the dreaded “Leap of Faith”.  We shared a bbq and  each young person chose a card at random to keep to remind them of our time working together, along the following lines.  “Fun, your guidance is to take time to enjoy yourself.  Relax and find your sense of humour.  Treat things lightly.  Fun brings lightness of spirit, and the most difficult situations can be eased if you see the funny side of things, so cultivate a sense of the ridiculous.

The work has reminded me of the value of frames of reference.  And a vital one is to have an understanding of the importance of healthy attachments including the making and ending of them.  Bowlby has written widely on this and it is a key theoretical component of “That Can Be Me”.

Remember the importance of, and pay attention to, positive endings.



Shifting Tides

We are currently faced with an age of austerity beyond anything envisaged after the 20’s and 30’s.  High unemployment, wars, terrorism, people are dying in the horn of Africa, again, yet still we grapple with the problem, struggling to find a solution to a repetition of history.  It is a deficit model, one that clearly demonstrates that we are constantly on the back foot. 
Do we learn from history? Ironically, history would tell us that we don’t. 
History is not a road map leading us to solutions unless we learn from it. 
Consider the possibility that like WW1 we are on the edge of wasting a generation of young people through a failure to believe and trust in their ability to offer a solution.  Do we listen?
No, not enough we don’t and a failure to listen makes us all deaf.
The London Youth Involvement Project does listen and does enable young people to both work up a solution and present their views on the quality and consistency of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) in schools, this work continues and will do so for at least another 10 months or so.  But, perhaps just as importantly, the clarity of the youth work process in working with this group of young people also allowed them to develop skills, knowledge and understanding about themselves and how they relate to the world around them. 
Yes we can teach young people about alchol, drugs, tobacco and their effects, but it’s proven that this doesn’t modify related unhealthy behaviours.  What does work is a focus on personal resilience and a sense of self.  Reflecting on coping mechanisms and our reactions to stressful situations, receiving positive reinforcement of achievements, and most importantly being treated with dignity and respect. 
Non-formal education (youth and community work) has an important part to play in the lives of our young people, it is being eroded everywhere we look, but the tide going out leaves a different landscape.  One that we must adapt to, and  strive to improve in the best interests of, and with, a generation.  The best youth and community work changes lives, the best youth and community work builds resilience, a greater sense of self and a positive core, the best youth and community work reduces by a large factor the chances of young people adopting unhealthy behaviours. 
The best youth and community work is a partnership that benefits us all.