A DCT member joined two mentors from Young Devon and three Empowering Enterprise participants, for a group activity at Clip N’ Climb, Exeter.
The participants did not know each other before the activity but were friendly and welcoming with each other as well as myself (DCT member), agreeing to have their photos taken and speak with me. They’re names in this write up are replaced with initials.
From looking at the young people’s Personal Development Plans (PDPs), the activity was a great opportunity to work toward some of their goals.
For N, one of his goals is to ‘gain independence and meet new people’.
He told me that Sophie, his mentor, had supported him to “get out of the house more” and that since being on EE he had moved to Exeter to live independently, saying he preferred living there and was able to be more social. N told me working with a mentor had really helped to build his confidence and this was evident at the climbing wall where N was positive and engaged with the activity, as well as in the group conversation at lunch afterwards. He stayed on with L, another young person, after his mentor left the restaurant to carry on chatting and get home on his own, illustrating how useful the experience was to continue building his confidence meeting new people and making his own plans afterwards.
One of L’s PDP goals is to ‘’look into hobbies and group activities’.
When I spoke with him, L told me that before joining EE he had been taking on too much in life and getting jobs but being unable to cope with so many pressures and ending up having to stop work. Since working with Young Devon mentors, L has been volunteering and has joined the Young Devon Youth Council, contributing his voice to help shape the future of the organisation. L told me that he wanted to “give something back to Young Devon because they have helped me so much”. These activities, L told me, are helping him to get some structure back into his life without too much pressure.
L's engagement with the group activity was impressive, he climbed solo to the top of a very high climbing obstacle, overcoming nerves and fears to get to the top. It was great to see the other participants at the bottom cheering him on and applauding when he made it back down. Afterwards, L told me he had really enjoyed meeting new people and that he had questioned whether to attend due to a fear of heights. He said climbing was “something I’d never choose to do on my own because I’m scared of heights but I’ve had an amazing time! I’m really happy I came today”.
L's commitment to pushing his comfort zone and being open minded to new experiences are valuable transferrable life skills in any area, including work, and it was positive to see how supportive the mentoring relationship was for him in moving forward with life.
I observed this group activity as a clear illustration of how the EE project can provide a safe structure for young people living with different circumstances and life challenges, to push themselves, have fun and gain social, communication and problem-solving skills.