Greater Manchester Youth Network (GMYN) is a charity that creates opportunities for disadvantaged young people across Greater Manchester so they can take steps to a positive future.

Over a year ago GMYN launched across the Salford borough so that the service became available to those young people who are in care or are care experienced in Salford.

The charity gained additional funds from Salford CVS and NHS Salford CCG to support more 13 to 25 year-olds in Salford to develop positive relationships through volunteering and social action activities.

Richard Driffield, Business Development Manager at GMYN, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding from Salford CVS and NHS Salford CCG to expand the delivery of this vital work.

‘’We are looking forward to working closely with ‘Involved Salford’ and Salford Council’s ‘Looked After Children’s’ Team to develop new social action activities for children and young people in Salford.’’

Last year GMYN engaged 738 young people who have experience of care, unemployment, disability, mental health issues or other forms of social isolation.

Ewan Davies, a Programme Coordinator at GMYN said: ‘’Our mission statement is young people can do anything they set their minds to.

‘’Care experience wise in Salford, I work with care leavers, so young people aged 16 to 25.’’

Care experienced programmes engage young people aged 13 to 25 from Manchester, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Salford.

The programmes allow for young people to ‘dip in and out’ of the activities, which are delivered on 1:1 or small group basis.

Mr Davies continued: ‘’It’s really about positive development activities with young people, bits of volunteering, social action, training and learning life skills.

‘’A lot of what we do is about reducing social isolation and especially with young people who are in care as they might not have that support network.’’

Previous people on the programme have expressed how they enjoy the flexibility of the programmes and GMYN are keen to encourage their involvement in shaping the activities.

Claire Reedy, a Programme Coordinator at GMYN said: ‘’I work with younger people who are in care or care experienced, aged 13 to 18, but the majority of young people who come on my programmes are aged 13 to 16.

‘’Ewan’s project has been running longer than mine, I started my post in May.

‘’We work quite closely with local authorities, Ewan worked quite closely with ‘Next Steps’, which are a leaving care team.

‘’Social workers tend to refer young people to us.

‘’They refer them based on whether they would benefit from working with us and doing some activities with us.

‘’After this we would then meet with the young person and find out what their interests are and we try and shape the programme around what they are interested in.’’

Ewan said: ‘’It can be a challenge, but a lot of the stuff that I do is focused around independent living as the people I work with are older.

‘’When someone is 17 and they find out that they have to live on their own, it can be crazy and not having the skills needed such as, cooking and learning how to budget can be daunting for anyone, never mind someone that has experienced being in care.

‘’I’ve done a range of positive activities such as, going to the sports centre, horse riding, and archery and cycling.’’

Benefits of the programme:

  • For anyone that is care experienced
  • Individuals can be in foster care, moved from foster care to residential or gone back with their family.
  • Continue accessing services, even after being discharged from care
  • Provide transport

The programmes provided by GMYN compliment local authorities and statutory organisations by taking the pressure of them.

Ewan explains: ‘’Local authorities and organisations can only do so much.

‘’This means there is often a gap in providing this type of service and getting young people involved in activities and bringing them together.’’

Another aspect of the work the charity does is bring together local authorities and network.

This allows for the charity and the people working for GMYN to work out the issues young people can face across Greater Manchester and then address them.

Ewan continues: ‘’We’ve both been to the same group in Salford called ‘Fight for change’ which is a council made up of ‘Looked After Children’ (LAC) and Care Leavers and its run by Barnardo’s.

‘’This has allowed us to understand the issues they can face and the activities they want to get involved in.’’

As GMYN is a charity, the programmes they provide are funded by different areas.

Claire explains: ‘’So, my programme is funded by Salford CVS and CCG. Whereas Ewan’s programme is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.’’

Programmes are funded by organisations such as; young Manchester, Big Lottery and the Peter Kershaw trust.

Without grant funders GMYN wouldn’t be able to deliver their programmes.

Claire said: ‘’A few young girls who have only been coming three months were discussing the impact it had on them and one in particular said she could recognise that although she still doesn’t feel very comfortable in school, she feels more confident in making friends and meeting people outside of school.

‘’The programmes allow the young people to interact with people that have been or are in the same situation as them.

‘’Whereas, at school they may not have someone who understands what it’s like to be in care.

‘’This means they can build confidence and also friendships whilst on the programmes.’’

Ewan expressed: ‘’I carried out a case study on one of the young girls who has been on my programme and she loves it.

‘’It gets her out of the house and it gives her something to do.

‘’She’s 20 and being a care leaver, she has additional needs and she isn’t ready to go into employment yet.

‘’So, this project is perfect for her because she can engage in something positive.

‘’It’s a way of getting out the house, doing something positive and engaging with other people.

We are working on progression more now, so she is doing some volunteer work in a local café so that she can build confidence and learn skills.

‘’The goal at the end is to prepare her for going into employment.

‘’So, you can see improvement and even if it’s just taking people out for a day and I getting a message at the end of the day saying ‘can you send me the pictures I want to remember this day’, it’s just very fulfilling.’’

For more information on the services GMYN are providing for young people in Salford or donate to the charity click here.

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