A Way Out’s Blossom service delivers Evolve - an early intervention-based programme for 1 hour per week over a 6-week period, for aged 8-16 years, available to both Primary and Secondary schools across Teesside. Young people learn about healthy relationships, not only with partners but with friends and family too, how to express their feelings in a healthy way, how to stay safe online, identifying good & bad secrets, safe sex and gender stereotypes.
The team are seeing a common trend around toxic masculinity and a need for work with boys at secndary school age, educating them to raise awareness of violence against women and girls.
Evidence shows that for many boys anger is the only acceptable emotion which is often used to cover a more powerful emotion such as sadness or shame. Being encouraged to suppress all other emotions can interrupt the emotional development of boys which can have a huge negative impact on their mental health. In general men report less depression than women but complete suicide at a much higher rate. There is a huge need for boys to be taught how to safely express all their emotions not only their anger.
Through working in partnership with Dr Helen Williams of Sunderland University, a report has been pulled together to highlight the need for this work. This provides the evidence needed to strengthen our plans for a boy’s pilot to address this need.
Please click the link below to read the report:
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Support for young people
Evolve engages young people referred to them through the partnering schools in weekly 1:1 intensive support sessions and encourage engagement in a programme of group sessions to promote a positive and healthy lifestyle, a school holiday programme of recreational and educational activities and trips, involvement in social action projects.
Improved understanding of:
a healthy relationship
what to do in an unsafe situation
how you should be treated in a relationship
how to treat others in a relationship
how to stay safe online
the red and green flags of a relationship
ability to express feelings in a healthy way
feeling less isolated
Our partners have said:
Funding bodies have praised A Way Out’s Youth Team stating that the team’s efforts to go and find
people in need of support are commendable along with the commitment to work with those who
need it in the long term.
Schools working in partnership appreciate that the support provided is really beneficial to the young
people who have been working with the Youth Team:
School staff find the 1:1 support really beneficial as the children are so positive about it. It helps with
their confidence and ability to cope which then supports their learning in the classroom. They know
they have quality time with AWO’s Youth Team who provide the pupils with someone to listen to
them and try to understand and support them to solve their problems or worries. This is a major
aspect of supporting children’s emotional well-being and self-esteem.
Feedback re Group activities programme – children really look forward to this and there are a good
range of activities which the children thoroughly enjoy. By working in partnership with the school
the pupils are fully aware of their behaviour and the consequences which can lead to rewards or
consequences dependent upon the situation. To see children come back to school eager to take part
in the structured youth programme is lovely to see and shows how much they enjoy it. As there are
so few facilities/resources in these specific areas, it makes these activities so special and children
and school staff are so grateful for such opportunities.
Logan* was referred to the Evolve programme as he needed support around online safety and building and maintaining relationships. Logan was also presenting at school as very isolated, had recently moved in with a new foster family and was struggling with this period of transition.
Education around online safety, the signs and dangers of online grooming, how to keep yourself safe online and the laws surrounding online safety.
Further education around relationships, both with family and friends. The importance of being able to spot the signs of what is a healthy relationship and what is not and the importance of being able to say no and keep yourself safe.
Team building activities played at the start and end of each session as a way to get Logan to interact with his peers and build his confidence.
Time at the end of each session was given as a safe place for Logan to ask questions or raise issues.
Safety planning completed with Logan which he was able to take away with him, which provided a clear plan of what to do if he was in danger.
Activities completed with Logan on expressing feelings and how to do this in a healthy way.
Logan was able to correctly identify how to keep himself safe online and the steps to take if he ever felt unsafe.
Logan's confidence grew and he started to build relationships with the other young people in the group and offer his own ideas during team building tasks.
Logan was able to clearly discuss what he would do if he ever felt he was struggling with his emotions and also what steps he would take if he ever felt that way.
Logan completed a quiz at the start and end of the programme and his overall wellbeing score went from 1 – I feel sad a lot of the time, to 4 – I feel happy most of the time.
“Thank you so much for last night. The children love it. Thank you so much, they can’t wait till the next one. The work you do is brilliant. Have a great half-term” – Head teacher of Primary School.
“I don’t want the programme to end, thanks for looking after us” – Student (primary school)
“This programme is the best part of school, Thursdays are my favourite day now” – Student.
“The students are all enjoying the programme and are excited to return next week!” (Inclusion Coordinator – Secondary School)
“Although the students were reluctant to come, they have all said they enjoyed it and have given positive feedback they are happy to return next week – great job all round!” (Inclusion coordinator – Secondary School)
Supporting young people in
The children and young people live in two of Stockton’s most deprived wards. Life expectancy statistics are polarised in relation to other wards and the national average, revealing extremely high early age mortality rates. The hospital admission statistics for young people (10-24) living in Stockton-On-Tees presenting with self harm are alarmingly twice as high as the national average.
Many children and young people in the local area face a range of disadvantages, including the impact of parenting issues, drug and alcohol abuse, restricted social and leisure opportunities and a lack of positive role models, which is further compounded by living in poverty and unstable accommodation within isolated communities.
The young people may consequently be adversely affected and demonstrate anti-social behaviour, low self esteem, poor physical and mental health. Some lack basic social and communication skills and as a result struggle with engagement in education, have low attainment levels and lack aspiration.
I love that we get to meet new friends and that you help us with our worries.