November 12, 2019

Safe Space Southport

Quick links:

Our focus in secondary schools is to create Safe Spaces to explore the big issues of life and faith. We usually do this through drop-in lunchtime clubs, support with SMSC, PSCHE, RE, assemblies, facilitating focus days with specialist visitors (wellbeing sessions, bands, etc.) or other creative projects.

For many years our trust has existed to provide youth workers and volunteers to serve and support local schools. Over the years we’ve ran many projects to meet this goal in secondary schools, albeit early on only being known for working with Christian students in schools. Whilst always existing as a generously gifted project of local churches in Southport, our focus has broadened massively beyond this style of provision over the last 10 years.

We have extended our team, trained diligently, and worked with many national youth projects to research and find innovative ideas to serve the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) needs of all students – of all faiths and none.

Continuing to provide through COVID restrictions

Since March 2020, we have been learning to provide as best we can for the SMSC needs of Southport’s young people through online means. We have invested heavily into video content creation, have built a studio in Southport town centre and Tabz (our longest serving staff member) has developed further professional skills in video, website and graphic design.

Through this content creation and the platforms of YouTube and Instagram, we’ve been able to create community amongst many young people in Southport, and further afield, bringing plenty of encouragement around mental and emotional health and general wellbeing. We have conducted a survey with many local young people responding, which has highlighted how needed this has been (something we only expect to continue moving forwards).

Partnering with schools going forwards

Pastoral support

From our own research and the research of others nationally, we expect the pastoral needs of secondary students to be huge over the coming months. We want to help support schools through this time, however we can. For example, Tabz, in particular, is a youth worker who many students will know as a familiar face from primary school. He has also recently completed his first 2 levels of counselling training. Hettie is a similarly gifted youth worker employed by us, with a focus on connecting pastorally through sport and physical activity. We also work and network with other youth workers locally, who have contributed heavily to our online provision. We want to offer our support in this arena however schools see fit.

Free video curricular content

From speaking with various secondary school staff, we expect it to be some time before restrictions lift in order for us to physically carry on our SMSC focussed projects in secondary schools. Eg. our clubs at lunchtimes. This is why we are repurposing our weekly uploads to YouTube to create videos tailored for use in year group bubbles, either as a resource for teachers in lessons, form time, or enrichment time.

Our latest three include: Year 7 Worries, Contributing to School Life and Stress Management / Prioritisation Techniques.

We also have a series on our YouTube Channel called REAL TALK, where we have tackled the subjects of anxiety, depression, self-harm and loss. These included our own stories and experiences along with tips (the loss session included an interview with Child Bereavement UK.) We intend to create an addition to the series on the topic of cancer/illness. The next job on the list is to make each of these sessions into a more streamlined individual video for use in lessons, but here are our three so far:

Year 7 Worries

A shortened version of Hettie & Tabz’s longer video looking at the top 5 worries that Year 7s bring with them when starting secondary school and aiming to ease their anxieties.

This video serves as a great tool to use in PSCHE / Enrichment lessons / workshops in school with Year 7s as they take their big step (transitioning from primary to secondary school) and comes from 7 years of experience working with Year 6s through the process.

The full version of this video is one of our weekly uploads to this Channel and features a bit more engagement to build community online amongst young people in Southport. We cut that bit here though, to make this video shorter and as useful as possible for the secondary school curriculum!

Contributing to school life

A shortened version of Hettie & Tabz’s longer video enthusing secondary school students to be ambitious about how they would like to be remembered when they leave secondary school.

This video serves as a great tool to use in PSCHE / Enrichment lessons / workshops in school with any year group (but particularly helpful for Year 7s we think!) enabling students to explore what they’d like their contribution to school life to look like, leaving their mark for years to come (without vandalising school property of course!)

The full version of this video is one of our weekly uploads to this Channel and features a bit more engagement to build community online amongst young people in Southport. We cut that bit here though, to make this video shorter and as useful as possible for the secondary school curriculum!

Stress Management and Prioritisation Techniques

A shortened version of Hettie & Tabz’s longer video revealing their hack for how to WIN AT LIFE – a strategy for reducing stress through prioritising daily activities around what is most important or time-sensitive.

This is a great illustration to use in secondary school PSCHE lessons looking at time management, managing personal finances, management of revision and personal study time, and prioritising wellbeing.

The full version of this video is one of our weekly uploads to this Channel and features a bit more engagement to build community online amongst young people in Southport. We cut that bit here though, to make this video shorter and as useful as possible for the secondary school curriculum!

Promoting our online channels

Where we would usually run a Safe Space at lunchtime in a school, we are asking that our online channels could please be promoted with posters or links shared digitally. We plan to run a live Safe Space on YouTube at 4pm from Tuesday to Friday each week. We hope that this will continue to build and strengthen a sense of community amongst local young people and we will make mention each day of the particular school(s) we would have ordinarily been visiting that lunchtime.

It goes without saying that our safeguarding policies are very well constructed and adhered to as ever. Our Trust’s safeguarding officer served as Safeguarding Lead for over 20 years in a local secondary school until her very recent retirement.

We hope with this investment of time, schools will be able to help us make sure our online work is made as widely available as possible. The following image should be useful for this:

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