We have completed eight workshops in reflective practice for employees of Islington Youth Organisations. The experience has proven to be a rich learning ground for all of us and an opportunity to create meaningful collaborations for shared projects going forward – writes Jane Riddiford.
Several years ago the Youth Commisioners at Islington Council started commenting on the evaluation reports submitted by Global Generation. What drew their attention was the words of young people that brought the accounts of our work to life. They began to ask about the experiences that had led to young people telling a different kind of story, a bigger more connected story. “What are the practices that encouraged people to express themselves” they asked? These early conversations sowed a seed that flourished into a full blown programme of training in reflective and artful inquiry that has involved twelve different youth organisations that work in Islington and beyond. The workshops have been run for two hours on a Friday morning followed by a sit down lunch. The sessions have covered - Story as a tool for change, Freefall writing, connecting to the Natural World, Artful Inquiry and Evaluation, Leadership for our times, Silence and Stillness and Exploring Enterprise. Participants have come from many different organisations in Islington. They have now begun to sow the seeds of a different ways of coming together and inquiring into their own settings which includes a teenage bereavement counselling service, the YMCA, Arsenal Community Football, the NHS and several arts organisations.
Here is a taste of what the participants have had to say about their experience:
"My experience this morning was possibly not what I expected but then again in kind of was I expected creativity and pauses and listening and thinking and I got that. When I think of exploring ways of evaluating engagement methods and young people’s progress and patterns I’m immediately drawn to thinking of and expecting to be pulled into methodology, box ticking the new emerging shining stars of measuring progress, achievement and attainment… We didn’t do that we have been creative and we have inquired…"
"The 'day' had a great impact on my recent week. Timing was perfect."
"I did not know what the Skip Garden would look like and had not expected to sit around in a tent in the middle of this garden during the session. It was a good experience, a surprise, something unexpected that turned out to be a good thing. I learned how trying to find a metaphor for my work was easier than I thought and made me think about it in a new way. I automatically found the key points of my work."