Promising practice details


C4EO theme: Disability

Development of Inclusive Youth Provision, Enfield

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Disability
  • Youth
  • General resources

Priorities this local practice example relates to:

    Basic details

    Organisation submitting example

    Joint Service for Disabled Children in partnership with the Youth Support Service, Enfield

    Local authority/local area:

    London Borough of Enfield


    The context and rationale

    Background details to your example

    The elements of the Youth Service initiative described here, have designed to facilitate a smooth transition for disabled young people currently accessing specialist provision, to move from specialist services to mainstream provision. Critical to achieving this is the support and development of the workforce to ensure the very best practice in working with disabled young people is achieved.

    Background Details
    The Joint Service for Disabled Children in Enfield has developed a successful inclusive holiday play scheme, which has provided a ‘hub’ of good practice. The long-term vision, in partnership with the Youth Support Services was to develop an exit strategy for young people moving from holiday play schemes to positive ‘youth’ activities. This is in accordance with Enfield’s belief that – ‘Disabled Children are Everybody’s business’

    Whilst the Youth Support Service has a history of offering opportunities and of supporting disabled young people to access their services, Enfield wanted to do more.
    An extensive consultation was carried out with the young people. There were some common themes which were centred mainly on perceptions of risk. The young people felt that they were vulnerable to crime, gangs and violence and identified these as the main reasons for their reticence in not attending more mainstream activities. Despite parents being supportive of children and young people’s rights to be included, the consultation demonstrated that they shared the young people’s anxieties.

    In response to this, the Young People’s Consultation Group (YPCG) held their own 'Question time' event posing questions to senior staff from all agencies. It was clearly evidenced by the young people’s views that a range of inclusive opportunities needed to be developed. It was acknowledged that the gap between inclusive holiday play schemes and mainstream youth activities, needed to be bridged, thus providing a safe and supportive transition. Enfield needed to demonstrate that safe and supportive youth projects, within the youth club environment, could be accessed through mainstream youth services.

    Similarly to the inclusive holiday play scheme project, staff from both services needed to have ‘ownership’ of this agenda. Staff needed to have the necessary skill set to work effectively with any disabled young person accessing the service. With this in mind, staff training and support needs and parent support needs were identified. It was felt that a range of projects that not only effectively 'bridged the gap' but engaged young people of all abilities to want more, had to be identified.
    In short, young people and parents had to feel 'in control'.

    Knowledge base
    The findings from the local consultation research reflected the transformation areas identified in Aiming High for Young People: A ten year strategy for positive activities (taken from Children’s Services Network) which built on the reforms set out in the 2005 Youth Matters Green Paper. Aiming High for Young People argues that positive leisure time activities can build both resilience and social and emotional skills in young people and uses research to analysis the characteristics of successful provision.

    The aims were:

    • To facilitate a smooth transition for disabled young people currently accessing specialist provision and to provide an exit strategy for young people attending inclusive holiday play schemes who now require more age appropriate activities.

    • To enable disabled young people to influence the strategy and subsequent delivery of positive activities to ensure they were both attractive and accessible.

    • To reach out and engage young people who would ordinarily not have accessed youth activities.

    • To support and develop the workforce to ensure the very best practice in working with disabled young people.

    Cohort numbers
    For the purpose of this pilot, 21 young people aged between 13 and 17 years inclusive were identified from a cohort of 212; this equates to 10% of this specific age group.


    The practice

    Further details about the practice

    Youth service staff met with specialist staff to discuss the challenges and plan the way forward, agreeing that prior to implementation of specific projects, preparatory work needed to be undertaken in a number of settings.

    This included mainstream youth club members and staff visiting specialist settings to familiarise themselves with the views and needs of disabled young people. This was a two way process, so in order for specialist staff to fully appreciate the youth agenda, they visited youth clubs.

    A training plan was identified and implemented. Managers and front-line staff, specialist and youth staff accessed training together around themes of inclusion, disability awareness and managing challenging situations prior to the start of the pilot project. In addition the Youth Support Service can now access all the twelve basic competencies developed by the Joint Service including:

    Manual handling/Back Care/Hoisting.
    Child protection/Safeguarding.
    Child development.
    Risk assessments.
    Understanding entral feeding and administering medication.
    Communication disorders.
    First aid.
    Epilepsy Awareness and the administration of medication / paediatric life support.
    Staff gaining experience across the Joint Service and with partner agencies.

    Parents were clear that disabled young people should experience continuity of staff and a carefully orchestrated hand-over. Staff most familiar with the needs of the young people were identified, who were then able to withdraw during the life-time of the projects. All the projects were integrated into the existing youth activity programme to ensure that when the hand over took place, the activities were naturally embedded within the Youth Service and collectively owned.

    The disabled young people wanted to raise awareness of their issues before joining youth service activities, so they were provided with the ‘tools’ to do this, principally through taking part in a journalism course. Young people from the Youth Service received training and support from partners within the Youth Participation Service within the Children’s Trust so they were confident and equipped to support the disabled young people in producing an article about disability issues from their perspective.

    From their base within a mainstream youth club, the young people were supported to research and collate the views of their peers. An organisation called Headliners, a charity inspiring and encouraging the personal development of young people through journalism, was jointly commissioned to facilitate the project.

    In addition, the young people were keen to be involved in a music activity as a positive way of promoting friendships. Together disabled young people and youth club members worked to produce musical compositions, leading to ‘cutting a disc’. An organisation called the Red Room group ran the project, they utilised creative methods and mediums to explore the world of music and make it accessible and enjoyable to all.

    Both projects rewarded participation through accreditation including the Duke of Edinburgh Award.


    Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

    Evidencing your practice has made a difference to children, young people and families

    These included:

    -Increased attendance
    -more disabled young people accessing mainstream youth activities
    -Attitudinal change to accessing youth activities
    -Increased opportunities to access youth activities
    -Staff confidence in supporting disabled young people.

    As a consequence of the projects, young people and their families now access youth provision with more confidence, appreciating that the youth service is sensitive to their needs. They have increased access to the full range of youth projects in the borough.

    95% attendance illustrates that the young people enjoyed the projects and look forward to future projects.

    Following face to face consultation and through the completion of questionnaires, the 21 disabled young people who participated stated:
    • that without the support of a specific project they wouldn’t have attended youth activities,
    • they had interest in attending future projects in youth centres
    • that they hadn’t had any negative experience in respect of safety and support
    • the buddying system enabled them to feel part of the activities
    • they had achieved something tangible in producing a finished piece of work
    (Detailed results from the Questionnaires from April and September of the 21 young people are available from the C4EO Team at C4EO team at the NFER.

    Fifteen youth club members were interviewed, without disabilities, and they provided very positive feedback about working together with disabled young people and they valued achieving an accredited outcome through their involvement in the project.

    As a result of the pilot as evidenced by the statistics:-
    21 disabled young people took part in the project. They were split into 3 separate groups of 7. Attendance data (available from the C4EO team at NFER, illustrates the high/near perfect attendance of two of these groups. Attendance stats are not available for the third group.

    The focus of the project was for the 21 disabled young people to move from specialist provision to mainstream youth support services. These services include the Summer University programme, the summer camps, area youth forums and continuing youth projects. We were successful as all 21 made this transformation.

    In addition 5 young disabled people learnt of the project through other means and joined the Youth Support service of the own volition - an unexpected but welcome outcome.
    Out of this total of 26 disabled young people, 3 young people access their local youth club with no additional support. The other 23 are accessing youth services with some support.

    Other outcomes

    Through raising the profile of the needs of disabled young people, more providers are now addressing their needs.

    A Youth Inclusion Strategy Group is overseeing, leading and driving the youth inclusion agenda. The Youth Service appreciates the need to ensure ‘bespoke’ provision so the focus is on the service being re-designed around the young person.

    There are increased opportunities for disabled young people to participate in service development through youth engagement panels and the Youth Parliament

    The positive relationship developed between the two services has ensured that disabled young people are now more than ever the ‘business’ of the youth service.

    A ‘young person led’ pathway for supporting disabled young people into mainstream youth activities, has been developed. There is an identified transition youth base which acts as a ‘stepping stone’ into universal youth provision.

    Through the development of joint training, Enfield now has a shared skill set which merges the knowledge, skill and experience of staff working with the diverse needs of young people in the Youth Service with the specialist knowledge, skill and experience of professionals within the Joint Service. This ensures that any young person irrespective of need will feel comfortable and be supported accessing positive activities for young people.

    There is an acknowledgment that accreditation should play a key role in engaging young people across the Youth Service and will be a key focus in future developments.

    Youth Support Staff from each project were interviewed face to face and expressed an increased understanding of the needs of disabled young people. They acknowledged that the method of working together on specific projects with a common aim promoted a natural process of inclusion. They appreciated that the projects had provided a platform for the disabled young people to be meaningfully engaged and to make friends in a non-pressurised environment. At the end of the projects, the Youth Support Staff understood that the services needed to be bespoke to the young people attending and not the young people having to integrate into existing services.

    Youth Support Staff are now actively engaged with the Resource Allocation Panel sharing responsibility for disabled young people accessing out of school leisure activities ensuring a smooth transition between specialist and mainstream provision.

    Longer-term evaluation will consider outcomes for both disabled and non-disabled young people, through the following activities:
    • a forum to express their views on current provision
    • an opportunity to have their voices heard at all levels including at the Children’s Trust
    • an opportunity to identify leaders to represent them at decision making meetings
    • the training to be able to access provision
    • essential life skills, including how to keep safe in community situations
    • opportunities to improve their social interaction skills through modeling by their peers
    • access and opportunities to contribute to community activities leading to an ‘ordinary life’
    • the opportunity to make and retain friendships.

    Staff evaluation will be further developed, assessing staff confidence and capacity at each stage of the programme.

    Parental confidence measures need to be monitored. If parents are not confident they will not engage with the project. More robust links with the voluntary sector are needed in order that they can play a stronger role in the development of the pathway. Additional measures are needed to assess how many disabled young people access voluntary sector youth provision.

    To further evaluate impact, it is intended to test this model in other environments and with other services to provide a more robust assessment of the ‘pathway’. In addition, evaluating outcomes for disabled young people accessing inclusive provision compared to outcomes of their non-disabled peers will be undertaken which will attempt to illustrate the ‘added value’ for non–disabled young people being in an inclusive environment.


    Sustaining and replicating your practice

    Helping others to replicate your practice

    The Youth Inclusion Strategy Group will be maintained with greater input from the Young People’s Consultation Group. The effectiveness of the Youth Inclusion Strategy will be increased through the engagement of more partners including with parents, Health and the Voluntary Sector.
    It is intended to continue to identify, develop and deliver a joint training programme for all staff as disabled young people gain greater and wider access to inclusive youth activities. Training will include planned work exchange arrangements. Further investment in training relating to the support, care and management of disabled young people with a range of complex needs, including medical needs, is vital to promote greater independence and inclusion.
    The profile of disabled young people’s access to services through the youth engagement panels and the Youth Parliament and the Children’s Trust, will continue to be raised.

    The young person led pathway into mainstream youth activities will be developed by ensuring it is collectively owned by disabled young people, parents and professionals.
    The role of accreditation will be explored further, addressing future opportunities for disabled young people to develop their skill set towards gaining meaningful employment.

    The existing buddying system will be extended to support transition arrangements.

    Top Tips
    • Ensure there is ownership at the highest level – collective accountability within the Children’s Trust.
    • Engage with all stakeholders – young people, parents, senior managers, staff and others.
    • Establish a clear long term strategy which includes pathways for young people moving from specialist to inclusive provision.
    • Ensure stakeholders have an opportunity to voice concerns.
    • Train staff from different disciplines together as it breaks down barriers and they can learn from each other.
    • Celebrate success, publicly acknowledge achievements and promote the agenda.
    • Brand the model – shared language ensures a shared agenda.
    • Embed the concept of collective accountability – ‘disabled young people are everybody’s business’.

    The development of a shared youth strategy has led to shared ownership of the disability agenda - now documented in Youth Support Strategy documents – leading to a sense of ‘disabled children being everybody’s business’ and that disabled young people have a right to choice and to be ‘in control’.

    C4EO Golden Threads
    The following Golden Threads apply to this example.

    • You can do it – promoting resilience
    • Together with children, parents and families
    • Shape up and keep fit – learning together
    • Unite to succeed – the right support at the right time
    • From good to great – leadership, vision and embedding is key

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