Celebrating Youth Hub Barbadoes

Published: Thu 9 Aug 2012 09:17 AM
Media Release
Celebrating Youth Hub Barbadoes
The Canterbury earthquakes displaced swathes of businesses, families and communities across the region, but what has the effect been on the young people in our community? You might be surprised to know there is good news.
Take a walk down Barbadoes Street and you’ll stumble across a group of very ordinary inner-city cottages housing an extraordinary array of services for the city’s young people. Welcome to the Youth Hub Barbadoes - a great example of what can be achieved when people work together; multiple agencies contribute to a single ethos and the corporate sector joins in to demonstrate its commitment to youth.
“Services for young people went from being fragmented before the earthquakes to being displaced after them” said Actionworks Manager, Peter Young. He recalls cases where young people were simply overwhelmed by the earthquakes and their effect on virtually every aspect of their lives. “The hospitality and service industries are a big employer of young people. Many of these businesses simply disappeared after the quakes and youth unemployment rates escalated. Schools shut down temporarily or relocated, family homes were damaged or mum or dad lost their job. Young people’s natural peer and support networks were displaced as friends and family moved to other parts of the city or out of the region entirely. They lost contact with, and access to, the people and services they needed because of their reliance on public transport. That’s a lot for anyone to cope with, let alone a young person that was already feeling under pressure.”
Now, thanks to the efforts of Peter and long-time youth advocate, Dr Sue Bagshaw, Youth Hub Barbadoes enables a collection of agencies to deliver a range of services to young people from a single location and in doing so, has morphed from a service delivery venue into a working model for youth development.
“It’s a simple formula that has enormous benefits for young people, youth workers and the wider community” says Peter.
Peter and Sue started Youth Hub Barbadoes with a blank sheet of paper – “we drew a young person in the centre of the page and then surrounded them with the services they might need” – and ended up creating not only the Youth Hub, but also a strategy for youth service delivery in Christchurch.
One idea has seeded another and now the number and scope of agencies wanting to be involved includes NGO’s, the private/corporate sector, government agencies, education providers, volunteer groups and research organisations. The Vodafone foundation and the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal have also seen the value in the development and have contributed to building upgrades and funded a project manager to assist in the development.
Peter is adamant that the Youth Hub will not only be outcome-focussed in its service delivery ethos to young people, it will also stand up to evaluative scrutiny.
“There’s never really been a collective and cohesive strategy for government and NGOs around youth wellbeing. We have stated a desire to ensure the welfare of young people but there was no model to do this. We need to focus on improving the wellbeing indicators for youth which at present do not look good for New Zealand.
“So often you have all these agencies working around a young person, but how can you really tell if you’re making a difference in the long term? We not only want to make a tangible difference to the lives of the city’s youth, we also want to be able to measure and evaluate those differences. The Collaborative for Research and Training in Youth Health and Development Trust has recently completed initial interviews with managers and staff within the Youth Hub. In the longer term, the goal is to show measurable improvements in the indicators of well-being for youth.
“Youth Hub Barbadoes has shown us there are no limits. A delivery model on this scale doesn’t exist anywhere else in New Zealand, and to my knowledge, it’s a city-wide model for youth development that could be showcased on an international stage” said Mr Young.

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