How can AQAs prepare young people for the future?
The life skills team has been working hard over the last year to make sure young people at St Christopher’s have the right skills and AQAs to help them reach their goals.
When we talk about preparing young people for independence, what we are really doing is supporting them to be interdependent, feel good about themselves, and have the confidence and strength to keep going whilst asking for help when they need to. We are not just preparing them for a specific transition – we are preparing them for life and all the changes and bumps in the road that come with it.
In 2018 young people across the organisation completed 422 AQAs. Because young people are staying in placement for longer, we can work with them for a more extended period of time and support them to engage in more meaningful AQAs that take longer to complete but offer a bigger sense of achievement at the end.
As part of our strategic commitment to improving emotional wellbeing, the team have been making sure young people understand mental health, self-esteem and stress management. Young people and staff said they felt unskilled in this area, so workshops have been delivered to both of them alongside each other as equals.
There have been more than 200 sporting activities including football, swimming, boxing, gym, badminton, yoga and the annual St Christopher’s sports day, which also contribute towards improved emotional wellbeing. Other relevant awards in this area include 32 health and wellbeing sessions and more than 50 creative activity sessions to help young people relax and have fun.
'The healthy lifestyle workshops made me remember that if I am not feeling good in my body, my mind probably won't get much stuff done.'
Through our Staying Close pilot, which supports young people with our third strategic aim of lifelong learning and thriving, the life skills team co-created a new transitions programme with young people to support them with practical aspects of preparing to move into their own home. One young person has completed this and is now successfully living independently, and nine others are about to start their journey on the programme.
Other achievements relating to lifelong learning and thriving include 21 tenancy and home sessions, 28 money, budgeting and debt management certificates, and more than 50 employability skills sessions including assertiveness and work experience opportunities.
Other achievements include six sessions on drug and alcohol use, eight human rights and democracy sessions, 16 equality and diversity sessions, and more than 200 cooking activities.
'I'm glad I did that. It made me realise that things don't have to be perfect and it's OK to get help. You don't need to do it on your own.'
However, these achievements from young people would not be possible without the hard work of our staff. The life skills team made changes to better support staff in running AQA sessions, like providing training as part of the introductory training course. There are now 85 AQAs in the catalogue so that staff can deliver one-to-one and group sessions, and there are life skills workbooks for fostering, children’s homes and care leaver services.
The Peacock Charitable Trust provide £10,000 per year to St Christopher’s, which contributes towards salaries for the life skills and participation team. Without them, all of this work would not be possible, so we want to say a huge thank you for their continued support.
Chief Executive Jonathan Whalley said: “Our young people have achieved so much in 2018 and it definitely deserves to be celebrated. Well done to everyone for these brilliant accomplishments – I cannot wait to keep creating brighter futures in 2019!”