Suffolk Young People’s Health Project (4YP) Girl’s Group

The Women&Girls Fund Suffolk is pleased to have been able to support 4yP’s Girls Group, which meets Monday evenings 5:30–7:30. We asked Lily, their group leader, to tell us more about the group.

W&GFS: Why is there a need for a girls group?

Lily: Many of the young females that come to the group have social anxiety, experiences of bullying, find it hard to make/maintain friendships and suffer low self-esteem. The group allows these young people to come together and address some of these needs. Without the group, they’ve explained that they would sit in their bedrooms and feel isolated.

4YP has enabled the group to create a nurturing environment to engage in early intervention, prevention, harm reduction, awareness raising and informal education.
The members have learned about topics such as risky behaviour, relationships, staying safe, sexual health, exploitation/abuse, drugs and alcohol, active lifestyles and accessing advice and guidance.

By offering a safe space to work together, they have built confidence and resilience. They have developed tools/skills like effective communication, healthy coping mechanisms and how to maintain a healthy well-being and offer peer support to one another.

The result not only has a positive impact on themselves, their relationships families and friends, but also leads to more positive engagement with the wider community/services by seeking help and support. With young people managing their emotions better, effectively expressing themselves and seeking support they are having healthier experiences and relationships, minimising risk taking behaviours and not draining/ putting pressure on public resources.

W&GFS: Do you have a boy’s group too?

Lily: 4YP recently started a Boy’s Group, which is gaining in popularity. Like the Girls’ Group, it started as a response to requests from young people. It currently runs at 4YP each Tuesday evening between 5.30pm-7.30pm.

W&GFS: How do the girls find the group?

Lily: 4YP carry out promotional work within the local community such as attending assemblies, local events and meeting with other professionals. Often 4YP is promoted by word of mouth and others sharing their positive experiences and social media posts. People also find out about our groups and activities from the 4YP website, by dropping in, and calling to make enquires.

W&GFS: What brings them here?

Lily: Young people may need support for a particular issue, or want to get involved in the various activities we offer. Some, because their friends already come, and others because they want to make friends.

Where there is a lack of youth services in the area, 4YP offers a safe and welcome environment for young people to meet and engage in fun and informal activities whilst developing new skills. Young people feel respected and listened-to here.

The Project has lots of different rooms and environments to suit young people’s needs. The Young People’s Workers at 4YP allow young people to feel recognised, therefore ensuring a sense of belonging.

Lily: W&GFS: How do they benefit from the group?

A trained Young People’s Worker facilitates the sessions, which ensures that all young people’s support needs are recognised and supported. Young people have the chance to get out of the house, meet new people, try new things and feel part of something. They make friendships and meet up outside of the project. The group also have a better understanding of the support available to them and how to overcome previous barriers.

Young people are involved in all aspects of the development, operation, monitoring and evaluation of the Girls Group, which further helps develop their knowledge, skills and confidence.

4YP continue to offer a drop-in service and other projects to the young people, where staff will promote informal learning to explore how to be happy, healthy and safe individuals.

W&GFS: How do they manage to get here?

Lily: Many make their own way to the project, often walking or using public transport. Some of the group travel from further away, so they get lifts from family/carers. They are very supportive at the end of the sessions to make sure that everybody gets home safely and will walk to the bus station together.

W&GFS: What other services does 4YP provide?

Lily: 4YP offers a variety of services and support to young people aged 12–25 years old, including:

· Drop In: Open 5 days a week for young people aged 12–25 to speak to a training Young People’s Worker, plus access facilities such as the computers, kitchen, shower, washing machine and clothing cupboard;

· Counselling: Short term solution focused work over around 6–8 weekly sessions;

· Sexual Health: The C-Card scheme is offered throughout the week so young people can gain access to free condoms and STI kits;

· Walk N Talk: Each Wednesday a group of young people come together to get active and engage in activities to benefit their wellbeing. The group head to the local park and play a variety of games. Young people have developed positive communication, effective sportsmanship and the benefits of being active;

· Young Leaders: We have a group of young people that take part in the ‘Young Leader’ volunteering programme which allows them to participate in the development and delivery of the 4YP service, whilst developing confidence, effective communication and team work.

· Volunteering: 4YP offers a volunteering programme where individuals can help in all different areas of 4YP- Frontline, Admin and Fundraising. All volunteers have an induction to the service, plus complete safeguarding training and regular supervisions with their line managers. Volunteers are given the chance to highlight any support or training that they may need.

W&GFS: What does it cost to run the group?

Lily: It costs around £1,450 a year to run the group, which includes staffing and management, materials for activities (art equipment, stationery, games, books) and contributions towards premises costs, heat, lighting, cleaning, electricity, use of computers, ‘phone and internet, as well as some travel, supervision, and publicity.

W&GFS: Where does the money come from?

Lily: We are grateful to the Women and Girls Fund for supporting the project with a £1,000 contribution for two years now, with the remainder being made up by other fundraising means, including young people-led and community events and donations.

We are taking part in the current round of the Coop Local Community Fund; the monies raised will go towards the Girls’ Group in 2018, helping to ensure its continuation. We will be looking elsewhere to part-fund the remainder. We would of course welcome the continued support of the Women and Girls Fund.

W&GFS: Thank you for your time, Lily. We love being part of this project and think it is an excellent use of funds. We’ll be back soon with more about how people can help and be part of #HerKindSuffolk.

To find out more about 4yP, go to http://www.4yp.org.uk/