5 Jun 2008

Project Focus: Dear Diary

05 June 2008

Thanet has a population of 126,000. It has 23 electoral wards including Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs. 17 of these wards have a child poverty index falling within the 20% most deprived in England. It is a local authority with one of the highest rates of looked-after children and young people in the country. We work with young people to identify the areas of change they wish to see as a result of the disadvantage and deprivation they experience.

The Children’s Society Thanet Participation Project works with children and young people aged 5 – 18 through a special scheme called the ‘Diary Awards’. This scheme asks young people to directly contribute to their community by developing and designing their own activity or project.

The awards encourage groups of children to get together and plan an activity and apply to the Diary Awards scheme for a grant of up to £500 to carry out their idea. Each team must think of a project that will have a positive impact on their local community.

A special Diary Awards worker is on hand to advise the groups about how best to plan and achieve their goals. Having put together an idea, the groups must present it to a Finance Panel. In keeping with The Children’s Society’s remit to involve children in every aspect of our work, the panel is made up of young people. These young people decide which groups are successful.

Panel member Chloe says ‘Making decisions is not always easy but it does feel good being in control and responsible. It shows us that we are valued, respected and trusted by The Children's Society and that other children and young people trust us to make decisions. It helps us with life long skills like confidence, negotiation skills and how to balance monies. We meet every three months and we are rewarded for our work; either vouchers or a trip, we decide’.

Successful groups are asked to keep a diary of their project and are given £30 towards the upkeep. The diary is essentially a record of their achievement, containing things like budget sheets, publicity materials, evaluations and team information.

Over the years, we’ve had some great projects from ‘Breaking the Barriers’ – a day trip with a young person buddying with an elderly person to look at the barriers between young and old; to Jambo Africa – a young person’s group set up to promote BME children and young people during Black History Month.

Outcomes have included:

  • Young people developing citizenship skills and becoming more involved in their communities.
  • The young people enhancing their educational, training and employment prospects.
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem.
  • Improved health and well-being.
  • Reduction in anti-social behaviour and crime.