Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Speaking Up's Youth MPs campaign for a safer Barnsley!

MPs from our South Yorkshire Youth Parliament project have been campaigning for a personal safety card scheme to be launched in Barnsley - and are extremely pleased that the Barnsley Youth Council have awarded them funding to get the scheme launched!

The last South Yorkshire Youth Parliament day focused on 'Feeling Safe in my Community'. Stephanie, Youth MP for Doncaster Social Education Centre, presented her research on the Safer in Doncaster card (or SID card). Stephanie explained how the scheme worked:

"Carry your SID card or keyring with you at all times. If you are out alone, and need help, look for the SID card in the shop windows and match it with your card or keyring. Go inside and ask the staff to help."

The SID card was set up by Choice for all in Doncaster (CHAD), a learning disability forum, after they heard of a similar scheme elsewhere in the country. Inspired by the SID card, our South Yorkshire Youth MPs were keen to set up a similar scheme for Barnsley - and CHAD members agreed to work with them to develop a Barnsley version.

"We need this card in Barnsley because it can help people with disabilities be independent. We think the card will help us to be able to go into town on our own because at the moment we don't go into town on our own."
Ryan, MP for Barnsley College

On the 24th August, four Youth MPs gave a presentation on the SID card to Barnsley Youth Council at the Town Hall. The Youth Council awarded the MPs £1200 to pay for 700 cards, 600 keyrings and 1000 window stickers! The Barnsley Youth Councillors also offered to work with our MPs to promote the scheme and make it a success in Barnsley.

Pictured: South Yorkshire Youth MPs Ryan, Ryan, Stephanie and Jamie at the Town Hall

The 4 MPs who campaigned on the issue are delighted with their achievement and are looking forward to working with the Youth Councillors to make Barnsley a safer place.

If you'd like to know more about the scheme, or about our South Yorkshire Youth Parliament, comment on the blog or get in touch with Project Worker Lucy on

Friday, 14 August 2009

Next Steps celebrate members' achievements!

Phew! It's been a busy time for our Next Steps teams in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk over the last few weeks, with achievement ceremonies across the region! Next Steps supports adults and young people with learning difficulties to develop their confidence, work skills and life skills in order to live the life that they want, and be an active part of their local community.

Our Suffolk team kicked things off with their informal ceremony in Newmarket celebrating the fantastic achievements of their members, many of whom will be coming back in September to work with us some more. Liz and Steph have a few places left on their Bury St Edmunds course, so if you know anybody who would be interested do get in touch with Liz at!

Pictured: Next Steps Fenland members at their achievement ceremony

Not to be outdone, our Fenland team held 3 achievement ceremonies in 3 days, in March, St Ives and Huntingdon! One man told the gathered friends, families and carers how his brother David, a Next Steps member, never used to join in with anything at all, and that he couldn't believe he had organised for his whole group to go to the cinema. There was a real buzz at the events, with entertainment including members performing as Michael Jackson impersonators and hosting their own Strictly Come Dancing! It was great to see the members showcasing their talents and showing how much their confidence has grown during their time at Next Steps. Everybody had a fantastic time, and many of the members vowed to keep up in touch.

Finally, the Cambridge members celebrated the inspirational achievements of 6 members who were moving on to their lives in the community, and 6 other members who will be continuing with their courses and building on their achievements further.

"I'm so proud of myself. I told you I could do it!"
Alison, Next Steps member

If you would like any more information about Next Steps, please get in touch with Senior Project Leader Graham at