Sharing Artful and Reflective Practice with Islington Youth Workers

Some years ago the Youth Team at Islington Council who have been the main funder for our Generator programme, started noticing the words of young people appearing in our funding reports. They were curious. What were the experiences that led to the vulnerability, creativity and sense of purpose they felt in the writing? This led to a six month commission to share our practice with Islington Youth Workers, writes Jane Riddiford.

In Global Generation’s report I appreciated the way many of the young people described their own journey, in their own words in such a creative and meaningful way – it gives a full picture of what the work is really about.
— Holly Toft, Head of Play and Post 16, Islington Council

We described the different ways through which we have explored with young people the notion of being researchers of their own experience ... notice you’re noticing, be curious about what you don’t know, feel the grass under your feet and the sky above your head, feel the clay between your fingers ... now is your time to experience yourself in new ways.  Walking in silence, finding materials in nature, taking photographs and telling stories young people have experienced a deeper and more connected side of life.

The natural open fields were breath taking; I could just sit and watch for hours and it made me think, the nature broke me down and softened me which was indescribable no word can describe how I felt. It made me a changed person. It made me think, this world we live in isn’t just cars and killing, war, trains and people arguing. It actually has an amazing side which I think more young and older people should go to. I can say so much but I’ll cut the long story short, now I have a different attitude, like now I want to do more good stuff.
— Vee, 15 years

Whilst we haven’t particularly wanted to follow the pattern of scaling up and rolling out as an organisation, an idea began to brew for how we could share our philosophy of change and the various methodologies that support that with other youth workers.  Thanks to Nicola Baboneau of the Islington Youth Health Forum, who encouraged us to spread our wings and write up a proposal for funding, we have had the privilege of introducing over thirty youth workers and managers from 18 organisations to some of the reflective and artful ways Global Generation has developed through our work with young people. Over six months we explored themes such as working with values, free fall writing, story as a tool for change, leadership for changing times and action research. Throughout each workshop we have woven opportunities for silence and stillness and experiences of the ways in which the processes of the garden and the origin of the earth itself offer rich metaphorical stories for changing and uncertain times.

The sessions which took place on a Friday were followed by a shared sit down lunch. Not only did we all discover more about ourselves and new tools to bring into our practice, it was also a rich opportunity to get to know each other, laying the foundation for collaborative working going forward.

I attended two (free fall writing & leadership) of the workshops. The Skip Garden’s setting and the style of facilitation have helped motivate and inspired me to consider the topics in a new light. Even just remembering my experiences during the workshops and shared meals brightens my thoughts, brings a smile to my face and builds my enthusiasm for the work I do: supervising bereavement counsellors — who work with children and young people — and counselling and supervising in my private practice .
— Augene Nanning, Senior Counsellor, Rucksack: children's bereavement service, CARIS Islington Bereavement Service

We plan to run a second training programme this summer and can also offer bespoke training for  your organisation, please email if you are interested.