Outreach sessions run for young people from Gypsy and Traveller communities
Go Higher West Yorkshire’s (GHWY) Uni Connect, in collaboration with Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (Leeds GATE), delivered outreach sessions that focused on skills, experiences, and values to a group of young people from Gypsy and Traveller communities in June 2023. We worked with both their boys and girls youth groups which are aimed at 11- 15 year olds.
Working in collaboration with Grace Cunningham, Leeds GATE’s Youth Group Lead, we decided to focus our session on encouraging the young people to discuss and reflect on what was important to them; and consider how they can use this to shape their future decisions and prospects, through a series of activities. The sessions were delivered by myself – a GHWY Project Officer – and GHWY Outreach Officer Luke Hart.
Through our previous work with Leeds GATE, I’m aware of the strong community and family values held by community members, and the value that is put on tradition and heritage. As a result of this, we wanted to encourage open discussion and reflection, and give the young people the opportunity to consider the importance of their values in their decision making.
Feedback on the sessions were positive. Grace Cunningham said they were a ‘huge breakthrough’ in terms of their young people wanting to know more about progression opportunities.
Luke Hart commented that the young people we worked with ‘were not afraid to talk out their thoughts and to say what they felt, which made communication clear and honest.’
The sessions also challenged some of the young people’s assumptions, with some expecting me and Luke to be ‘posh because we worked at a university’. To see the young people enjoying the session and asking questions about progression is the reason I do my job.
Personally, I was amazed at how many of the young people felt a confidence in what their values were at such a young age. Where confidence lacked in expressing and understanding their skill sets, there was an underlying confidence about what they stood for and what was important to them. As an outreach practitioner, it was a privilege to see some of this expressed so articulately by some of the members in the group.
The activities built on our previous work with Gypsy and Traveller communities and with Leeds GATE, which is a membership organisation for Gypsies and Travellers in West Yorkshire. We have been working with Leeds GATE for the past few years, with outputs including a research report, which highlights the experiences of young people from these communities regarding education.
We will deliver further outreach sessions with Leeds GATE youth groups in 2024, this time with a focus on confidence building and decision making. We hope to include a visit to a Further Education (FE) campus within this, to allow exposure to FE and offer the opportunity for these young people to see what’s available to them in the future.
Charlotte Keyworth, GHWY Project Officer (Outreach)