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  • Writer's pictureEvie Osbon

UPLIFT: Overcoming Barriers

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Overcoming barriers


 

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In this blog we are focusing on the barriers and challenges that we have overcome throughout the project in order to make sessions as accessible and welcoming as possible.


We would love to hear your thoughts, reflections and solutions if you have faced similar challenges!

 

Age Gap Challenge:

This project was open to Young Carers within Nottinghamshire Young Carers Services (Tu Vida) between the ages of 8-14. We designed the project through early consultation with Tu Vida, responding to those within the service who had specifically asked for Drama workshops, the large majority falling within the 8 to 14 age bracket.


In one group, we had the challenge that we had a number of 8-9 year olds and a number of 13-14 year olds, meaning that the age gap felt more pronounced than it would with a group that has a variety of ages between 8 and 14. This led to a lack of group cohesion at times and challenged us to find creative ways to engage and excite all ages.


Our approach was for the group to remain together at the start of the session for a high energy physical game and then split into two mini groups for older group members and younger group members. This meant that we were able to offer age appropriate activities that were exciting and challenging at the right level. This also meant the group ratio between facilitator/assistant facilitator and young people was smaller - meaning there was more one to one attention and chance to develop skills in more depth.



 

Transport Challenges:


One of the biggest challenges has been finding ways to get young people with transport barriers to sessions.


Transport Questions:

  • Do they have access to a car and someone who can consistently bring them to sessions?

  • How do their caring responsibilities impact their ability to attend sessions regularly or be transported to sessions?

  • Are there any financial barriers to getting them to sessions?

  • What happens if a young person's caring responsibilities make it impossible for them to be transported to and from sessions by their own support network?

  • A majority of taxi companies won't take an unaccompanied young person under 12 years old, but what happens if that young person doesn't have anyone to come with them and wait for them as they attend the session?

  • And even if they did, where would the adults wait in the space without altering the dynamics of the sessions where we aim to encourage the young people to spend time with their peers, without having to think about their caring responsibilities?

Organising shared taxi routes which allowed all those who needed a taxi to get one, whilst ensuring there was a young person over 12 years old in the taxi was one of the biggest challenges. In addition to being logistically difficult, we wanted to find the most economical and environmentally friendly way of transporting young people.


We are pleased to have consulted early on with our partner, Tu Vida (Nottinghamshire Young Carers Service) to ensure that we had a healthy sum for transport costs! Without this budget, we would not have been able to get as many young people to the drama sessions.


It’s not all about TAXI’s though! We have also learnt that an understanding of a person’s travel plans can give you an understanding of what energy they might bring into the Drama session. We have found it helpful to know the exact distance a young person travels for the session, the means of transport they use, and who is responsible for their transport to help us understand how they might feel when they arrive at sessions. Perhaps they have rushed from school and didn't have time to eat, so we can make sure some of their favourite snacks are ready and available. A generous snack budget also comes in handy!



 

Finally, Personal Barriers:


Feeling free and safe to share your authentic self is important to us at Mind Out Theatre. We encourage everyone to share their ideas, thoughts and express themselves - we recognise that it can be challenging to do this and some young people may be anxious about putting their trust in people they don’t yet know. Across both groups, we have seen an increase in confidence amongst the young people and have identified some of the most effective tools/ techniques we used during sessions to cultivate confidence and self-pride.


Gathering background information

Prior to sessions starting, we chatted with some people via Whatsapp Call to ease their anxiety and to get to know them a bit better. Some sent videos telling us about themselves and answered some fun questions we sent through such as ‘What’s your favourite film and why?’. This gave us a bit of an idea of their living situations, access needs and any wellbeing related matters. (Something which is understandably prominent in young people due to the effects of the pandemic…)


The adults in their life also sent through anything they wanted us to be mindful of during the session and some hints and tips on how best to support their young person - all information that was absolutely crucial in supporting them effectively.

Wellbeing & Check-In Techniques

We introduced a ‘Feelings tree’ where notes were added to the tree with feelings. This way the young people could share their feelings anonymously.



One check-in technique was asking the young person to say ‘My name is __ (optional: my pronouns are__ ) and I am feeling __ ’. All emotions were praised, received and acknowledged equally.


We also asked the young people to close their eyes and put up their fingers to indicate mood (1-low, 10-high). We noted the numbers so we could track any significant changes.

Using mini-projects

To create a sense of accomplishment and achievement, we recognised the importance of mini-projects within our ‘process over outcome’ project. This allows us to evidence to the young people their achievements and cultivate pride in their skills!


Thanks for reading!

We would love to hear from other Producers / Facilitators who work with young people in similar co-creation projects to share creative solutions and learn how to overcome other barriers & challenges by sharing best practices!


This blog is a co-written piece by Evie (Lead Practitioner and Producer) and Sarah (Project Coordinator and Assistant Facilitator)





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