Supporting the younger generation

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

The Self-E project will be a young-people led programme designed to empower young people to challenge the negative peer pressure and risky behaviour to which they have become increasingly susceptible as result of exposure and easy access to social media and inappropriate internet sites. It also has an adverse impact on peer to peer relationships. Self-E will enable young people to build their resilience to cope with online pressures and make informed life choices. From our experience of working with young people and their families we know:
1. It generates a huge gap between how they project themselves through the social media and how they feel inwardly.
2. Vulnerable young people are drawn in to virtual messaging sites with increased risk of Child Sexual Exploitation.
3. Increased cases of cyber bullying and lack of understanding/empathy for peers when online compared to face to face interactions.
4. Young people feel more pressure to aspire to unrealistic body images and experiment with sexual activities.
5. It impacts adversely on the parents-child relationship. The boundary between a child’s right to privacy and a parent’s concern about online safety is fragile.
6. It impacts on younger siblings who show signs of risky behaviour at younger ages.

We walk alongside young people on the streets. We know what matters to them. We hear on a daily basis the harmful impact of social media on young people’s relationships. 95% of the 300 different young people we work with use social media. 77% have experienced some kind of bullying or discrimination. Many young people appear to turn the other cheek but we know it has a huge impact on their self-esteem and mental well-being.

A very significant number of young people say that watching pornography is how they’ve learned to have sex, which is unsettling due to the plethora of explicit pornography that is freely available online, at home or on their mobile phones.

Through conversations on the streets, in drop-ins and with parents, over the last few months it is clear that increasing numbers of young people are participating in risky behaviour and parents feel powerless to deal with it.

We have a proven track record in building young people’s resilience to say no to drugs, underage drinking and smoking. Extremely disengaged older young people are supported and given a sense of community and trained by credible young youth workers to be young leaders and positive role models for younger people. By creating opportunities for young people and parents to discuss, learn and grow through open, honest dialogue around online safety and potential risks, we can change the way young people and parents treat the internet and social media sites and develop a Self-E culture. It will enable them to get the best out of this powerful tool but stay safe with an understanding of the risks of indiscriminate internet use.

Using this model, Self-E will be delivered to over 200 young people using the following activities:
• 6-8 young people will identify the negative peer pressure and risky behaviour that impact most on young people and their self-esteem, and explore ways of handling the issues.
• Those 6-8 young people will work with the youth workers to create workshops to deliver information to younger people on negative peer pressures and risky behaviour that come from indiscriminate use of the internet.
• Young people will create blogs on the DAMASCUS Youth Project website http://ycat.org.uk/ on self-esteem, cyber bullying, building resilience and raising awareness of online safety.
• Younger people will create a leaflet that raises awareness of online safety and the impact that early exposure to the internet and social media sites can have on young people and their self-esteem.
• An evaluation of the success of the strategy through anecdotal evidence and an appraisal carried out by young people.

We need revenue funding to support the staff wages and buy material.

Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project

Location: Vale of White Horse District and South Oxfordshire United Kingdom

The project is rooted within the community. Community members and home-grown credible youth workers work together to build a supportive community around young people giving them a shared purpose and sense of belonging, and the ability to effect change in their own lives and their own community
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