There are increasing expectations to guarantee significant 'results' within a three-year funding cycle (at most!) and fewer resources; yet in people work, this is a completely unrealistic expectation. There are no guarantees and no shortcuts, just purposeful work, respect, care and hope. Whilst some individuals living in challenging circumstances can and do achieve amazing personal change in a relatively short period of time, supporting and embedding this change takes longer; and making a long-term impact in a deprived community takes a generation, the committed work of the whole community and signficant people and material resources. We are extremely grateful to funders such as the Tudor Trust, BBC Children in Need, Manchester Diocesan Council for Social Aid and Manchester City Council who recognise this and have offered us renewed three-year grants over a nine year period, enabling us to offer stability and consistent work for a community and generations of young people; and to funders such as Lloyds Bank Foundation and Peter Kershaw Trust, who have funded us more than once.
Below are some of the stories of young people's involvement in M13 and the difference their participation has made to them.
This photograph is from M13's archives! It was taken in 2003 and is of children who attended the Young People's Voices Group Holiday Club - a club initiated and run by a group of local 16-18yr olds with support from M13 workers. The YPV motto was 'by young people, for young people' and their aim: 'to do for other local younger people what they wished someone had done for them as children'. This aptly describes the club they set up, run by young people for other local children.
The twins in the photograph above are Ayisha (left) and Quanita (right), then aged 8, children who attended the holiday club run by YPV. Thirteen years later, Ayisha and Quanita (pictured above right) are still involved with the project, now as sessional workers: Ayisha (on the right) is studying Primary Care at Chester University and working with M13 during her summer breaks; and Quanita (on the left) helps run a weekly girls' group, which grew out of the Summer Jam holiday club, whilst also studying Social Work at Salford University. In making a difference in their community, they are following the example set them by YPV young people all those years ago.
One of our favourite Chinese Proverbs at M13 is 'Paths are made by those who walk on them'. Young people have been walking this path - taking action to make a positive difference in our community - into existence together for many years. You can read Ayisha's and Quanita's story on the right and more about our community action projects on 'Our Work' page.
The ‘Keep the Youth Fund’ Campaign was a great demonstration of young people’s activism.
When, in November 2014, Manchester City Council announced they were having to make significant cuts to services due to reduced funding from National Government (including further significant cuts to their youth funding), M13’s young people decided that youth work was such a needed resource in the lives of young people that they would join with M13 workers and other youth projects to campaign against the cuts.
This involved lobbying Labour Group councillors at a budget discussion meeting early on a Saturday morning, offering them hot drinks as they arrived, handing them a leaflet explaining the importance of youth services to young people and talking about the benefits of youth work (pictured above). Ardwick ward councillors, Bernard Priest, Tina Hewitson and Mavis Smitheman were pleased to see local Ardwick young people taking action and were very supportive.
We also initiated and supported a petition, established in partnership with Voluntary Youth Manchester, which secured over 3,000 signatures petitioning the City Council to maintain the Youth Fund at current levels. The picture above shows the team of M13 young poeple and workers out campaigning around Longsight Precinct, seeking signatures and raising awareness of the proposed budget cuts. As a result of the petition, the issue was raised at the Council Scrutiny Committee, to which we were invited to give evidence of the potential impact of cuts on young people. The City Council decided to maintain the current budget for youth work for the following tw years, 2015-17.
This has been a brilliant illustration to the group that collective, planned and passionate action can make a difference!
Mario became involved in M13 through the Basketball Project in 2012. He continues to work sessionally with us in the holiday club, at basketball and in summer sports sessions.
"I first got involved with M13 in 2012 when I was invited by a friend to attend one of the basketball coaching sessions. I felt that it was a very fun, relaxing and welcoming environment to be in, with youth workers and a basketball coach and I enjoyed the opportunity to play locally with other young people and to chat with Diego and Gabe. I was one of the older young people there and I realised that the younger ones listened to what I had to say about basketball and other things and that they looked up to me.
M13 workers gave me the opportunity to attend a Level 1 basktball coaching course, which I really enjoyed and then asked if I wanted to continue to do a Level 2 basketball coaching course, which would give me the qualification to be the lead coach on basketball sessions; of course I said yes. That same summer, M13 ran a basketball youth camp in which me and 4 other young people ran the sessions for younger local children. It was really enjoyable to coach the children and see them improve and I found it easy to talk to them.
Because of my basketball Level 2 and the volunteering experience coaching for M13, I was offered a job at Ballzone, coaching multi-sports in primary schools across Manchester. I am now employed by M13 as the lead coach at Basketball, as well as a volunteer support youth worker when needed."
Mario Ralph 2014
Danny began volunteering with M13, in his own local community of Brunswick, in May 2011. In September 2012 he began a JNC qualifying Youth and Community Work degree studying at Huddersfield University, undertaking two of his three practice placements with M13. Danny is rightly proud to tell people that in June 2015, he graduated with first class honours! Well done Danny! Since then, he has been working part-time with M13. In 2015 he wrote:
"Between September 2014 and January 2015, I completed my third year 300‐hour placement with M13 – I was also granted a student bursary from M13 to cover living costs, for which I was very appreciative. During my time on placement, it was a challenging and stimulating work environment for me, more fundamentally, a very supportive environment that enabled me to grow, learn and develop – thanks to colleagues who supported me throughout my practice and also the valuable developmental supervision that has facilitated my criticality.
M13 has permitted me to gain a robust understanding of youth work and bring a professional framework to my practice derived from a blend of components I have acquired here, including: the relevant skills, values, knowledge and experience. Youth work, I have come to fathom, is an art, and experiential learning is of profound importance – but reflecting on my personal journey with M13 over the past couple of years, a platform has also been created for me to realize my innate potential and flourish. Over the past three years, I have developed into a professional reflective practitioner that can critically analyze my practice reflexively ‐ this also transcends to all areas of life and enables me to intrinsically learn and holistically improve myself in evolutionary fashion, rather than rely on and repeat my biographical history – no longer a prisoner of the past, but a pioneer of the future.
Learning about youth work theory and the contexts it takes place within has been a key area of development for me, not just for my practice, but also my personal, emotional and psychological well‐being. As a local person, it has enabled me to conceptualize and understand my social surroundings within my community and the wider society, and contextualize myself and reframe my experiences within that, ultimately enlightening, empowering and emancipating me. Although I take some comfort in recognizing our circumstances are often manufactured by structural forces on a macro‐level that shape and structure the opportunities and choices available on a micro-level, we still have the agency of our free-will to defy the logic of our cultural norms and expectations, and to walk new paths into existence.
Hopefully, I’ve made some small progress on my journey in demystifying and dismantling stereotypes purported about people within Ardwick, and made explicit the potential, which often goes wasted – that if nurtured correctly and given the opportunity, can be harnessed and manifested as a small cog of altruism.
M13 played a key role in helping me get to university in 2012 and progress, they took a risk and put their faith in me, and have supported me all the way through for which I am eternally grateful. I thank God for Helen (and Chris); they done more than just invest in the community, they became one of us and have walked alongside us in our struggles for the past 21 years.
Danny Connelly 2015
In 2014 Quanita (on the left) wrote:
I've been involved in M13 as a young person for years, but I started working as a young volunteer in 2012. M13 has played an important part in my development professionally and personally. As part of my volunteering I have helped to organise and run a young girls' group that grew out of the Summer Jam Holiday Club. I have been part of team-building activities and educational trips which have helped the young women to build relationships with one another as they have progressed into their adolescence. The first project I was involved with as a volunteer leader was called Summer Jam, where a group of young women trained and set up a holiday club for girls aged 10-12yrs. In addition to this, I have helped young people to build better relationships, increase their confidence and develop a positive outlook for their life experiences.
Quanita Ellison, 2014
Ayisha (on the right) wrote;
I initially started volunteering with M13 in the summer of 2012, although I'd been involved with M13 as a young person before that. I was involved in a girls' group called Summer Jam, where a group of us girls got trained and led a hoiday club for younger local girls, with M13's help. After Summer Jam, I became a placement student and was involved in the creation of a weekly girls' group, which is still running. We've done various activities together, including arts and crafts, as well as working with the girls on topics such as confidence, bullying and creating positive friendships. By doing these sessions I have had the privilege of helping these young women grow and develop as well as them helping me to develop my skills of working with young people and improve.
The work that M13 do with young poeple is great and you can see that just by speaking to the young people, as well as that they are helping people like me to gain experience that is going to benefit me in the future. To conclude, M13 is a great charity and I hope it continues doing the great work that they do for many years to come.
Ayisha Ellison, 2014
Nihula has been involved in M13 since 2009, aged 14, through a weekly drop-in, the 2010 Fashion Fusion Project, Summer Jam Young Leaders Group 2012, Young Women’s Drop-in, 2012-14, Politics Project 2014-15 and then Young Leaders Group 2015. She is now 21 and volunteered with us at the Summer Holiday Club and at a new Younger Girls’ Group.
In 2013, when Nihula was 18, in her penultimate year at college, doing A-levels, her mum died unexpectedly, as a result of a complicated child birth, leaving her and her family to simultaneously grieve and care for a new born baby. Nihula took on the major caring responsibility for her younger siblings and her new born sister, for whom she became a surrogate mum, whilst also managing to complete college successfully, gaining a place at university to study social work in September 2014. Throughout that time, Nihula turned to M13 to offer her what support we could in that situation; mainly just listening and letting her know we were there when she needed us and offering practical help when we could provide anything useful.
When asked to describe the impact of M13’s help, Nihula said ‘It seems dramatic to say this, but I think you’ve saved my life’. She told us we were the only place she got the help she needed. When asked what we had done that had been helpful, she thought for a bit and then said she’d need to text me, as she’d start crying if she told me.
This is a journey that Nihula has had to walk herself, with support from her family, and yet her family were also grieving and she needed to know there was someone else, beyond her family, from whom she could get support when she needed it. Perhaps it was simply knowing that there were people there whom she could turn to at any time, that enabled her to walk so much of that difficult journey on her own.
So here’s what Nihula's text said:
It seems dramatic to say M13 have helped me find myself through a difficult time in my life. They saved my life in a way. I was extremely depressed and at a time when no one bothered to care, the workers cared. They genuinely cared about me. I never felt like they were my youth workers, they have always felt like family, since workers will all go out of their way to help me. They helped me evaluate my life in a way I might not have been able to do and make positive changes. They gave me financial aid when my mother passed. I was able to get a job and help raise a child with their emotional help. It was a life I didn’t choose but they made sure I knew I had people to talk to. Without their help I don’t know where I would have ended up. I would have gone down a horrible self-destructive path. They helped me understand I was capable of being a substitute mother as well as a young girl trying to get work and further my life. I had no confidence in myself and did not think I could do it, but with their help I was able to believe in myself enough to get through it and come out a better person. When I met my youth workers I was a young girl and they have helped me stay on the right path and become a confident woman.
Nihula Sameer 2014
I first got involved with M13 in 2009, when I was 14, when my friend invited me to Brunswick Drop‐In. It was a good place to socialise and learn in a fun and engaging way: we did an interesting photography project about identity, and I kept attending because I enjoyed meeting new people, building new friendships and I enjoyed the support from the workers. I then took part in the Fashion Fusion project where we designed and made dresses and then showed them off in a catwalk show.
I’ve done two residentials with M13, been part of M13 Young Women’s group and recently the Politics Group and the Young Leaders' Training. In 2012, I took part in the ‘Summer Jam’ project, where we received youth work training and then ran a summer club for younger local girls, aged 10‐11yrs. This is when I found my passion for working with young people.
I am currently doing a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Youth Work: I will be a qualified youth and community support worker. I chose to do my placement with M13 and the support they’ve given me for my placement has been brilliant. I have learnt a lot, working in the Girls' Group, doing some detached work and running a girls' group and sexual health project with Nics, with the Coverdale Girls Group.
M13 has been a major part of my life and being involved with the project over the years has been extremely beneficial to me: having someone to talk to has helped with my confidence and my friendships. It really helped me to know that M13 workers were always around on detached and whenever I met them we’d always have long chats together, which really helped me. I love that I now get the opportunity to support young girls, empowering them and seeing the difference it makes in the young people.
Shannon Callaghan 2015
Since writing this, Shannon has heard she has passed her Youth Work Diploma. Great news, Shannon!