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COMMENDEE 2019-20: A Development Officer for the North Yorkshire Youth Offending Team, Ed is Commended for developing, and securing funding for, the innovative ‘Pop Up Shed’, teaching young people vocational skills from a mobile workspace.
Ed is a Youth Justice Service Reparation and Volunteer Development Officer working in the North Yorkshire Youth Offending Team. He is Commended for the inspirational ‘Pop Up Shed’, a workshop to encourage young people in practical reparation work to enhance their confidence and sense of making a contribution – which he initiated, found funding for, and has successfully piloted.
The initial nominator, Butler Trust Local Champion and the North Yorkshire Youth Offending Team’s Head of Service LAC (Looked After Children) Leaving Care & Youth Justice, Vicky Metheringham, explains the background to Ed’s project:
“In a county the size of North Yorkshire, the geography, limited transport and shortcomings in community centres often form a barrier for young people. Ed used his own initiative to help rehabilitate young people who have been given community sentences by teaching them vocational skills from a mobile workspace… young people aged between 10 and 17 are often handed community sentences by the courts that require them to carry out unpaid work for the benefit of their victims, or others within the local community. While this work can take various forms, the lack of a workshop space meant that the Youth Justice Team were unable to offer basic practical work tasks for young people.
“Ed took it upon himself to improve the rehabilitative offer [and] sought assistance from local stores in Scarborough and obtained enough equipment to create to create a ‘pop-up’ shed to use as a mobile workshop that could be set up anywhere from a back garden to a church hall. The equipment received includes a foldable workbench, a battery drill, saws, hand tools and dustsheets which can be packed in the boot of a car and taken to the young people.
“Ed was inspired by volunteers from the Men’s Shed initiatives and by North Yorkshire Men’s Shed Ambassador Graham Storer helping one young person create bird boxes for Dalby Forest and a local charity shop – which had been requested by the victims of his offence. Ed was greatly impressed and devised this easily transportable pop-up workshop that could be used “wherever and whenever… in a room in a community building, a church hall, at young people’s homes, and outside spaces.”
With support from local Rotary Clubs and matching ‘in kind’ donations of tools and equipment from B&Q’s Scarborough branch. Responding to its success, Tony Stevens, President of the Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers said “We are delighted that three local Rotary Clubs came together to help fund the buying of necessary tools for the pop-up workshop in order to engage youngsters in the Youth Justice system.”
Vick says “The effect on the young person’s confidence and self-esteem has been amazing and they have thoroughly enjoyed creating and working on this… The opportunity to design, develop and create items for charities and local organisations [gives] young people the opportunity to not only give back to the community and fulfil the conditions of their sentence, but to develop new skills and gain confidence through creating simple woodwork projects including bird boxes, bat boxes and planters which can be passed to charities to sell, or given to organisations that benefit wildlife.” She adds that “Ed is respected amongst his peers for his diligence, integrity and determination to see things through to the end.”
One peer and colleague recalls a touching example of the project’s impact:
“Ed told me that on a recent appointment he was dubious the planned work could go ahead because of the weather (he planned to set up the workshop in the back garden). On attending the house, the young person’s Mum was so thrilled with her son’s new found enthusiasm about the work he was doing with Ed she offered him the dining room to set up the workshop as she did not want the session not to take place. The dining table was swiftly moved to one side, dust sheets were put out and the work commenced. At the end of the session the young person got the hoover out and put the room back together!”
Another colleague reports a young offender attributing part of the reason he was beginning to have a more positive outlook on his future to “his recent interest in wood work which has been shaped, (excuse the pun) during his reparation work with you. This was further cemented by mum’s positive praise… This new desire to create art using more tangible objects has presented me with a good foot in the door to engage him.”
One of the B&Q managers supporting the project adds:
“If we can turn people around then they can contribute to the community. It also involves skills that can instil pride. If we can instil pride back into these young people, that would definitely help prevent them re-offending.”
Meanwhile a previous Youth Justice Service Manager describes Ed as “a man of remarkable integrity.”
Ed himself notes that “as well as being cheap to set up, the Pop-up Shed is designed to be economically and environmentally sustainable going forward. All wood used comes from off-cuts, unwanted furniture and pallets. Other materials (flower pots, bamboo, pine cones, corks, etc) are donated from individual’s gardens and garages, local woodland, etc. As of 10th October, 25 items have been produced by 13 individual young people during a total of 149 hours. Items made have included bird boxes, bird feeders, insect hotels, planters. These have been donated in person by the young people to a number of charities and community groups for them to use or sell on.” He reports that:
“Through participation in the project, young people have learnt new skills in a relaxed and safe environment that is matched to their own pace and ability. They have gained improved confidence in their ability to be creative in the sure knowledge that whatever they make will be appreciated and used by others within their local community.”
In a short video about the project Ed makes the eloquent point:
“When we were young, we all learned things from other people. And a lot of young people today don’t get the opportunities to learn rudimentary, basic practical skills, so we’re filling a gap with our young people…and helping them with their confidence.”
With thanks to North Yorkshire Youth Justice Service, especially initial nominator, Butler Trust Local Champion and Head of Service LAC Leaving Care & Youth Justice Vicky Metheringham, as well as to the Rotary Club, President of the Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers Tony Stevens, and B&Q, for their contributions.