In line with the strategic actions of the UK Foyer Federation71 we aim to enable staff within Foyer, mentors and others to work in ways that develop their capacity to innovate and lead change. The way that EFY Foyer staff, mentors and group facilitators work with students is central to ensuring the integrity of the Open Talent approach. Enabling young people to lead in the design and implementation of group work, and other peer-led initiatives, is also pivotal.
Staff will work as coaches, personal planners and group workers and, as such, may employ a wide range of methods that include positive psychology, mindfulness techniques, narrative-based approaches, motivational interviewing, solutions-focused therapy and group work methodologies. Mentoring will be provided by external partners. The way in which EFY Foyers understand these approaches and roles is outlined here.
Coaching is focused on a clear set of objectives and goals. Once these are achieved the relationship/agreement between the coach and the person being coached may come to a natural ending.72 Coaching is task oriented and it is the coach’s role to:
Staff, particularly Youth Development Workers, will work as coaches with the students. The YDW will work as a coach to enable the student to reach agreed benchmarks towards the objectives identified in a student’s Learning Plan.
Trust is an important quality in the coaching relationship.
Education First Youth Foyers work with students to plan, facilitate and coordinate access to resources, opportunities, networks and personal support. Staff work with rather than for students, and enable students to progress their learning goals and objectives by pointing them in the right direction and facilitating connections with key services, resources and opportunities.
Staff will work with the student on their individual Learning Plan goals across the 6 Service Offers. They will also conduct safety planning for self-harm, suicidal ideation, drug and alcohol and family violence where applicable, and provide referrals to specialist services (e.g., mental health) when identified as necessary. There may be a coordination function within this.
Primarily the YDW’s role is to provide personal support and planning assistance. Students will be matched with their YDW as per capacity and other matching considerations.
The Open Talent approach is lived out in EFY Foyers through individual mentoring, coaching, facilitated personal planning and support, group activities and peer-to-peer supports.
At EFY Foyers there is a daily schedule of group work activities. The importance of group work as a key technique in working with young people is widely recognised.
Group work sessions encourage discussion and free expression of opinion, so that the participants can express their own ideas in their own language, and discover their own aptitudes, talents, weaknesses and strengths. The group and the facilitator can recognise leaders and enhance their capabilities such as speaking, mobilising, organising and planning.73 Group work can also bring about changes and development in ‘skills, knowledge, attitudes and values’.74
Who organises group work?
The YDWs, external facilitators and students run daily group work sessions. The topics or activities that are developed pertain to the interests and skills of the workers and students. All group activities in some way reference the 6 Service Offers and abide by the principles of EFY Foyers and the Open Talent approach.
At Education First Youth Foyers there are peer-led group sessions and a buddy system has been developed whereby students are assigned a buddy upon intake.
Young people benefit from helping others.75 These benefits include the self-esteem that comes from learning that they have something to offer, a sense of control that can be empowering and a feeling of social usefulness. This is consistent with the evidence that young people involved as peer ‘helpers’ have a greater increase in self-esteem than those young people helped by them, who also gain to a lesser degree. ‘Peer-led initiatives can increase young people’s self esteem and their sense of effectiveness and control in their lives’.76
Who is involved in peer initiatives?
Students will be supported by EFY Foyer or TAFE staff as appropriate to develop these skills, with training for students in developing peer initiatives resourced at the Foyer.
In Leading the Way: The Victorian Government’s Strategic Framework on Mentoring Young People 2005–2008 mentoring is defined as:
the formation of a helping relationship [with]… a more experienced person who can increase the capacity of the young person to connect with positive social and economic networks to improve their life chances. 77
Mentoring is focused in the young person...
broad and related to the whole person and their life, with goals and objectives evolving over time.
Trust is named as the crucial component in the relationship between mentor and mentee.78 The Youth Mentoring Network of Australia describes the opportunities that mentoring brings to a young person:
through mentoring young people gain access to a committed adult, someone who will be available every week, for months and sometimes years at a time. Mentors are trained to listen, in a non-judgemental, accepting manner. They turn up, they listen, and they accept. For many young people it is rare to have access to an adult who is not a parent or a teacher. The quality of such a relationship can ‘tip the balance’ in the life of the young person. 79
Mentoring is focused on the young person and through the development of this relationship supports personal growth. It is characterised by:
Mentors will be sourced from the community, business, philanthropy and other key partners to the Education First Youth Foyer. As such, mentors will generally be external to the staff team. This is due to the voluntary nature, the period of engagement and the specific role that mentors play in the lives of the young people.
Staff work with rather than for students, and enable students to progress their learning goals and objectives by pointing them in the right direction and facilitating connections with key services, resources and opportunities.
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Artwork title: Abstract
Artist: Saphire Thomas
Orange is for passion… the abstract was to put a bit of feeling and emotion into it