How do you find young leaders of tomorrow? Romsey Mill believes that they can be found amongst the young people it works with today.
Over 35 years of experience in delivering youth work in and around Cambridge has demonstrated the importance of providing opportunities for young people to be part of making the change that they want to see in their community.
Mike Farrington, Romsey Mill’s Youth Development Team leader, says: “The young people we work with have often struggled with school and with social skills, and the Youth Leadership Programme challenges their negative perception of themselves and builds their confidence by taking them out of their comfort zone and showing them what they can achieve.”
He adds: “We believe that young people have the power to create a virtuous cycle of change by being positive role models to those around them. Investing in young leaders can bring out the potential in other young people who as a consequence acknowledge the importance of investing in others.”
To develop young people with potential to become young leaders, Romsey Mill has established a programme of training, support and opportunity – and 40 young people have already taken part. A key part of the programme involves supporting the young people to recognise their unique skills, talents and contribution to the work as well as helping them to see the contributions made by others.
The young people then gradually take on responsibilities, including fundraising and mentoring other members of the youth groups.
These experiences will build the young people’s confidence, showing them how things get done, and giving them the skills they need to take part in social action.
One of the young people who is part of Romsey Mill’s Youth Leadership Programme is Kaitlin.
Kaitlin is now 16, but she first came into contact with Romsey Mill through a girl’s boxing group when she was 14. Through the group and with the support of Romsey Mill’s Youth Development Workers Kaitlin grew in self-confidence and resilience – as well as learning self-defence skills!
Kaitlin has also taken part in a number of Romsey Mill trips and outdoor activities, and has learned various life skills, including cookery, through 1 to 1 support. Over that time, our Youth Workers recognised that Kaitlin has the potential to be a young leader, and provided opportunities for her to volunteer and receive training.
Kaitlin says “Being part of the Youth Leadership Programme has helped me to have more interaction with both adults and people who are younger than me. I have learned really valuable skills – such as how best to establish boundaries with younger people – in other words how to say ‘No’ in a nice way; and how to establish links with young people who may be part of exclusive friendship groups, and help broaden their interests and engagement with others.”
Looking forward, Kaitlin, who is studying Art and Design at College, says: “I hope to be able to increase the volunteering I do with Romsey Mill, as this will help me to learn and to develop my passion for working with young people.”