A year in SYA

After my post looking back at five years at IBM, time for another reflective look back.

This time: looking back at the last year’s work in Solent Youth Action. I’ve just had to write the Chair’s foreword for our Annual Report. Writing coherent English is never my strong suit, so I figure that as I spent a fair bit of time trying to write it I might as well reuse it in as many places as possible!

The full report details what we’ve done in the last twelve months, so the Chair’s bit is just a place for me to set the scene, and pick out a few of the things that I think are the key highlights.

Solent Youth Action supports young people to benefit themselves and their wider community through fun and innovative volunteering activities. The last year saw the organisation grow rapidly. Successful bids for v funding enabled us to increase staff headcount from 10 to 15. They also allowed us to expand into new offices in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight, marking a significant beginning for our plans to increase our geographical coverage beyond the Eastleigh district. In the next twelve months we plan to develop these offices, increasing the opportunities we offer throughout the Solent region.

Our volunteers have had many success stories in the past 12 months, delivering over 22,500 hours of work for good causes. They received 231 certificates in recognition of exceptional efforts, with two young people receiving particularly notable awards: one receiving a Platinum Youth Achievement Award (only the second person locally to receive this) and another to receive a Youth Challenge Award.

The organisation has continued to grow and consolidate its position as a key provider of youth volunteering in the area. We established formal partnerships with neighbouring organisations Basingstoke Voluntary Services and Baseline Crime Concern, and are growing informal relationships with organisations such as the Positive Futures Social Inclusion Project. Through these, all organisations involved become more effective at supporting young people, and we hope to make more partnerships in the future.

We have continued to innovate in approaches to youth volunteering. For example, the successful “Me & U” project which supported young people who have experienced mental health illnesses to share their experiences and ideas in the production of a booklet filled with real emotion, expert understanding and inspirational insight. This booklet, and the DVD produced based on it, is now being used to train both professionals and volunteers who work with young people, improving their understanding of youth mental health issues. It is a powerful example of how we can provide young people with activities that benefit themselves while making significant contributions to their community.

SYA’s successes over the past year are a credit to the efforts made by both our young people and our staff. This report gives a flavour of some of their achievements. If you would like more information, or have any questions or comments on anything in the report, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Dale Lane
Chair, Solent Youth Action

Thanks to Gareth, Russell and James for proof-reading and pruning some of the less intelligible sentences from the first draft! 🙂

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