Organic sausages, storytelling and friendships: a residential to remember

A Blog by Senior Youth Worker Hannah Garrard

The end of the summer holidays for twenty MAP young people from north Norfolk, Norwich and Great Yarmouth was spent trying new challenges and building positive relationships with each other at Hautbois House outdoor activity centre, alongside MAP youth workers and activity staff.

The Horizons project supports young people on the edge of care or at risk of NEET to overcome barriers in their lives. The three day summer residential offered young people time and freedom to try new things—climbing, pioneering activities and water sports— meet young people who experience similar barriers, and enjoy themselves in open countryside. They stayed in shepherd’s huts out on the green.

Some of the young people have experience difficulties at school, labelled as “troublemakers” and are often isolated from other young people. The opportunity to engage in a large and positive group dynamic, managed by youth workers, offered those young people the chance to shine as the young adults they are. Youth workers reported that there were only very minor instances of behaviour, which is to be expected with any group of young people.

For one young person, it was his last time with the Cromer group having been with the Cromer Hub project for four years. Youth Worker, Ed King, said: “T was fantastic. Over the last six months he has really matured and this trip was a perfect way for him to finish his time with the Cromer Hub”

A significant proportion of Horizons young people live with anxiety and depression, and the residential was a huge achievement for them, spending time in a large group of peers, most of whom were new faces. Becoming comfortable in small groups facilitated by youth workers has been the key, and youth workers have a good understanding of each young person’s needs and how to support them. MAP Youth Worker, Gill Rockey, noted how one Norwich young person made significant progress in making friends with Cromer young people. “It was so good to see him happy and laughing, he really struggles with his anxiety and was competent on all the activities.”

The residential offered time out for some young people who have significant caring responsibilities at home. It offered space to kick back and enjoy being young. A story teller visited one evening and entertained the group, and the organic sausages donated by one young person’s family went down a treat.

Learning to self-manage during free time in between planned activity time, is an important element of any MAP residential. The Horizons group demonstrated many instances of positive relationship building and entertaining themselves away from screens and without adult input. When asked in the anonymous evaluation at the end of the three days: “which statement sums up your experience best”, ‘FRIENDSHIP’ came out on top by a mile.