Bangor students collaborate locally and internationally on youth empowerment project
Students from Bangor University have collaborated with partners from across Europe to develop a web course of successful youth work practices, in the hope of ensuring that the youth programmes of the future make a real difference to the confidence and aspirations of young people as they enter adulthood.
The aim of the Erasmus EMPYRE project (Empowering youth- successful youth work practices in Europe) is to map, evaluate and develop youth work practices that have been successful, especially in social empowerment and employability of youth.
Students from Bangor University’s School of History, Law and Social Sciences collaborated with students from institutions in Poland, Finland and Austria on the project, which will result in an ‘empowering youth’ web course. The course will be made available for students and people working in youth organisations across Europe, and will examine the key elements of successful youth work practice and provide practical examples of good practice.
Dr Hefin Gwilym, lecturer in social policy said, “This was an exciting opportunity for Bangor University students to work on the project with local youth work organisations, interview participants, and visit Finland for a 10-day intensive workshop.”
Lakeisha Evans, a second year student studying Child and Youth Studies and Social Policy, was one of the students who took part in the EMPYRE project and travelled to Finland, named the world's happiest country for the fifth year in a row in an annual UN-sponsored index, to find out how different countries approach youth services.
“I’m passionate about advocating for young people, particularly those who have been through or are going through the care system as someone who was adopted myself.
“Before coming to university, I worked in various settings from nursing to the care system, in mental health and then at a college as a learning support mentor, so I’ve seen the good and the bad when it comes to my own experience and that of young people I’ve come across, be they friends or observing young people during my career so far.
“Visiting the Lahti employment services project in Finland was a real eye-opener. One of the main things that struck me was that people are classed as a young person in Finland until they are 30, meaning you have more opportunity to overcome hurdles with support in place if things don’t go quite according to plan. I was also impressed by how they provided safe spaces for young people in places like shopping centres, and how they provided the opportunity for young people to build real connections and won over young people’s trust. The way in which they used the arts to develop young people’s confidence and how they provided job and work trial opportunities was also a big take-away for me.
“There are definitely things we can learn from the good stuff that goes on in other parts of the world, but also the bad. Young people often get too much negative press, and we need to reduce stigma around failure, respect young people, put funding into the right areas and genuinely see young people for what they are - the future.”
As well as visiting Finland, students from Bangor worked with two local partners, Wild Elements based in Bangor and Gisda, who have offices in Caernarfon, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Pwllheli, gaining valuable insights into how both organisations worked with young people.
Sian Tomos, CEO at Gisda said, “It was a real pleasure for us as a young persons’ charity to work with Bangor University on this exciting project. We’ve learnt a lot along the way, and have been enriched by the experiences of European colleagues. It was an honour to represent Wales alongside Bangor University and play our part in developing the e-learning modules which will be available to students throughout Europe soon.”
For more information on studying in the School of History, Law and Social Sciences at Bangor University, click here. More information about the Empowering Youth course is available here - look out for further information on how to register.