The second joint staff training visit was hosted by Dacorum Council for Voluntary Service (Community Action Dacorum) from 30th September to 6th October 2018 in Hemel Hempstead, UK. Two participants represented each of the project partners. The aim of this training visit was to promote how the host delivers youth work in general and with a particular emphasis on social enterprise activity and cross-sector partnerships with other stakeholders.

The first day of the training started with meeting the friendly staff and volunteers of our host. The participants were introduced to the agenda, had a tour of Hemel Hempstead, visited Hemel Hempstead School and learned about Connect Dacorum Dragon’s Apprentice.

Next day the group traveled to visit the University of Hertfordshire and met Dr. Jana Filosof who presented their entrepreneurship programme. In the afternoon the group learned about the Prince’s Trust and their work with youth, and also about the Repair Shed ethos and background.

The third day started with visits to the Repair Shed St. Lukes and Repair Shed at Hemel Food Garden. In the afternoon the group visited Boxmoor Trust and the Swan Youth Project. Dinner was held at the Restaurant at West Herst College where “meals are prepared by the chefs of the future“.

During the fourth day participants visited Youth Connexions – an advice service for young people housed at the XC centre with a skate park, climbing wall, indoor caving system, and also a health centre, recording studio, and internet cafe. The afternoon was reserved for a visit to Radio Dacorum, community web radio station, and participation in a radio show.

On the final day of the training, participants visited the Rectory Lane Cemetery Restoration Project at Berkhamsted.

After the visits, participants reflected on examples of good practice they saw and discussed which to choose for the collection of the most interesting good practice case studies in each country visited.

„Youth Connections“ Save Lives

The first example of good practice chosen by the participants was Youth Connections (YC), an advice service for young people at Hemel Hempstead.
This entreprise has been running for over 30 years and it is set up as a social “old style” youth space for young people in the area. It is open Monday – Sunday from 9am, and young people can drop in even without appointments. YC works with 13-17 year olds but also with 18-24 year olds (extended to youth with disability, LGBT and Trans groups, young mums). They also go into schools and target kids as young as 11 offering education on drugs and alcohol abuse and sex education.
YC is a safe space for young people in the area. It is a home away from home for kids from difficult backgrounds, providing supporting environment and empowering young people through self development. It also offers education around “sensitive” topics such as smoking, drinking and sexual health. Youth workers at YC are rescuing lives working with kids who have been made homeless due to LGBT+ status.

Dragon’s Apprentice Challenge Programme

This project involves cross-sector collaboration between a high school, several successful companies, and local charities. The challenge recruits teams of school students (the Apprentices), assigns them a business mentor (a Dragon), and then pairs them with a local charity. The teams are given £100 and their task or challenge is to turn it into £1,000 or more for the chosen charity. The Dragons provide advice and support to help their team achieve the funding target and business goal. Apprentices are planning and implementing various activities: quizzes, dances, concerts, cake sales, market stalls, silent auctions, personal coaching, pop-up shops, etc.
The Dragon’s Apprentice Challenge offers students the opportunity to set up and run a business, gain organisational and job-related skills, and learn about the charity they are helping. This programme helps raise money for charities through developing entrepreneurial mind-set among youth. The practice has positive impact on local community and it can be replicated in other countries.