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Network(ing)

22 Nov 2012 - 16:00 by ross.grant

Hi, and welcome to the new VYM Blog. Although this is entered as Ross’s blog, VYM is much more than Ross Grant, but more of that later. In particular though, it is also Sarah Gilston, VYM’s much valued Communication Support Worker, without whom you would receive very limited communication from VYM, and there's the Board of Trustees that governs and supports VYM staff.

Those of you familiar with older VYM Bulletins will remember Ross’s Ramble and it is quite possible that this blog will adopt a similar style and content, but (in theory) on a more frequent basis. I suppose that will depend on you, if you find what we say on here interesting and worth engaging with. I should say that there has been some suggestion that I have been procrastinating when it comes to completing a blog but that’s simply not true. Ok, it may well be that we are the last network to post a blog, and yes I’m at the end of the first paragraph of this blog and I’ve not really said anything yet. Mmmm ... maybe they have a point!

So, what shall I blog about. In the interests of partnership working, I notice that Nicola Shanahan on her children and families blog has just blogged about, er, partnerships. Since it mentions VYM I suppose I could just concur with her blog and finish there. But, hey, this is my first (and maybe last) blog, so lets’ make it count.

You might not be surprised to learn that I am a keen advocate of the merits of networks - when they work well. As noted above, VYM is much more than just the staff, with a network that numbers upwards of 200 youth organisations across Manchester, most of which are voluntary organisations, but not all (mmm ... that sounds like the subject of another blog!).

For the most part over the last 10 years of our existence, network activity has revolved around our regular network meetings, which address issues raised by members or that we feel members will benefit from deeper and wider discussion or just having more information about. For instance, our next network meeting on 6th December will address the soon to be released Youth Fund specification, and will be addressed by Councillor Rosa Battle, Lead MCC Member for Youth and Mike Livingstone, MCC Director of Children’s Services.

Increasingly though we are looking to utilize the enormous expertise, experience and knowledge that resides in our network in different ways, sometimes across the whole network and other times in smaller more specialised groups. The key thing is being responsive to the needs and capacity of the network to engage, so we are also exploring ways of networking more effectively online where physical meetings are either unnecessary or difficult to arrange. The diversity of expressions of networking can be seen in:

• This is Us – which celebrated Youth Work Week early in November, and organised in partnership with Willow Park Housing Trust, this event brought together young people from a wide range of network members, together demonstrating the impact of youth work in our city, as well as the vast talent of our young people;

• The Participation Practice Advisory Group consisting of youth workers from 10 organisations across the city that supports the development of VYM’s participation project built around a young people’s magazine;

• Trans Education Action (TEA) -zine – a partnership whereby VYM has been able to support a member group to produce a valuable resource for (and by) transgender young people, as a pathfinder for the participation project;

• Policy & Practice Workshops – VYM’s network includes the valuable expertise of our Universities’ Youth & Community departments. These workshops have been organised in partnership with MMU and will address different aspects of ‘voice’ in 3 termly sessions, starting on 12th December.

• Youth Fund VCYS Reference Group – formed at short notice for a short period of time to offer insights and advice to council officers developing the next MCC Youth Fund specification, and to ensure that the process learns from past experience – something we have plenty of.

If there’s anything in this blog that you would like to know more about, we can be contacted at voluntaryyouthmanchester@gmail.com.  Also visit: cypfebulletin.wordpress.com for the latest CYPF bulletin.

I think that’s probably long enough for a first punt at this blogging lark. There’s (net)working to be done.

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