At Gendered Intelligence, we are proud of our youth work service. We have been working with transgender and gender-questioning young people for over a decade; around 500 young people attend our youth groups every year. We provide a supportive environment where young people can meet others in a similar situation.
All our youth work takes place in the context of well-established youth work practice in the UK. We are endorsed by UK Youth, London Youth, and the Youth and Community Department at Ruskin College, Oxford, a leading provider of youth work qualifications. We are also supported by — and have worked in partnership with — many other senior youth work practitioners and organisations around the UK.
There are existing guidelines and frameworks which shape the work of thousands of youth groups across the country, including residential youth trips for mixed age ranges. We follow, and are no exception to, this National Youth Work framework.
We believe that the health, welfare and safety of children and vulnerable adults are paramount and that all people without exception have a human right to be protected from abuse of any kind regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, gender identity, lifestyle or family make-up, or beliefs.
Effective safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults begins with staff and volunteers being well informed and aware of safeguarding issues. We induct all our staff and volunteers on our safeguarding policies and procedures, as well as run regular updates to these procedures. After every session involving children and young adults we hold a debrief space for the team to discuss any issues, or potential issues that they experienced during the session. This then escalates through our Lead youth work team up to our Designated Safeguarding Lead as appropriate.
It is made clear and easy to all Gendered Intelligence staff and volunteers that they are required to report any concerns of potential abuse or risk to self or others immediately, through the procedures outlined in our Safeguarding Policy.
About our Youth & Community Work Practice
We have always run split age youth groups as part of our services and we regularly review these age bands to ensure they are the most appropriate for attendees.
Our youth groups are split by age as follows:
- 8-11-year-olds group (with 7-year-olds allowed to stay if their parent/carer stays at the parent group in the same building) in London
- 11-15 year olds group in London
- 16–20-year-olds group in London
- 13–20-year-olds group in Leeds
13–25 year olds group TPOCalypse for trans, gender variant and questioning young people of colour
Groups that sit alongside our youth service, but which are framed more as part of our community work and are regulated/run with more structure, staffing and boundaries on social interaction are:
11–25-year-olds group for our Community Saturday, with increased staffing, parents and carers group running alongside and siblings in the same age range welcome to join in.
- 18-30 year olds peer led group
- Special and additional projects often age split as appropriate to the topic and/ or format
Wider age ranges
On occasion we carry out activities with wider age ranges, including our Youth Board, Swimming, Pride trips, and Imagining our Futures sessions.
On these occasions, the space is staffed with more youth workers and trained volunteers than usual and have strict policies and rules around how the attendees share the space.
This includes: no 1:1 areas, facilitated discussions, and toilets separated by over- and under-18. Our workers are briefed in detail about supporting all ages to share and be in the space, and all young people are supervised at all times by at least two workers.
Online Youth Work Sessions
With the coronavirus crisis meaning our youth work sessions are now online, we felt the immediate need to put strict safeguards into place around our online work. When we host these groups, our young person attendees are not given the option to message each other 1:1 (only publicly to the entire group, or to the Youth Worker hosts).
There is no way in our online spaces for young people to privately message each other; therefore there is no possibility for sharing details. Entry into these groups is vetted through our usual Youth Work procedures. Our workers are briefed in detail about supporting all ages to share and be in the space and all young people are always supervised by at least two workers.
All young people under the age of 16 have parental/carer consent to attend our sessions. We communicate regularly with parents and carers over all matters concerning their young people who attend our services.
Residentials and Swimming Group
Our camping residentials every summer have 18 youth workers to 36 young people, which is a ratio of 1:2. We run two camping trips, one for young people aged 11 – 17 years and the other for 16 to 25-year-olds. The young people are divided into the following age categories for sleeping, youngers camp: 11-13; 14-15; 16-17 and for the olders camp: 16-17 and 18+. As you might expect, we have a ban on any kind of sexual behaviour and the consumption of alcohol on our residentials. For any other one-off residential trips we run, the same age split sleeping arrangements are made as above.
Our swimming group and residentials have strict rules and regulations that the workers and young people understand. Changing rooms and sleeping areas are split into various age ranges to keep young people separated according to existing national laws. These age ranges are as follows: under 16s, 16-17s & 18+ spaces.
We always require that young people under the age of 18 have consent from a parent/legal guardian in order to take part in our swimming group or overnight projects. Before we go away or go swimming, we invite young people’s parents/carers to a meeting so they can listen to our project plans in full, ask questions and meet the team of workers as well as the other young people. For our swimming, parents and carers are invited to drop their young people off and talk to workers at that point.
Our safeguarding qualifications
We have a robust safeguarding policy in place which applies to everyone who works with young people, including volunteers.
Our Designated Safeguarding Lead Teams
Our Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) is Finn Greig, the Director of our Youth and Communities Services. At Board level, Dr. Catherine McNamara holds safeguarding responsibilities and is also a qualified and experienced DSL. Finn Greig has a First-Class Hons Level 6 Youth and Community Work BA, 15+ years’ youth and community work experience and Level 3 Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) status.
Dr Catherine McNamara has carried out the following training:
- Child Protection Training, Designated Safeguarding Lead update training, NSPCC, 2017, 2019
- Organisational development coaching, Institute of Group Analysis, 2016
- The Prevent Agenda, MASHEIN, 2016
- WRAP (Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent), Harrow Council, 2016
- Child Protection Training UK, Safeguarding Children level 3 (Designated Safeguarding Lead), 2015
One of the Co-Leads of our youth service, Jake Kelly, is our key Safeguarding Officer. He also works as an LGBT specialist support youth and community worker at Portsmouth City Council (PCC) as part of the Early Help and Prevention team and runs the PCC’s LGBT Youth Group.
In addition to this, he has 10 years’ youth work experience, a level 3 Youth and Community Work qualification, a Masters in Applied Theatre and 6 years experience working in various school settings, including Head of Inclusion at a large secondary school in Hampshire.
In 2021, 4 additional members of the youth and community team received DSL training.
In terms of external review or contributions on specific issues, our work is informed by safeguarding and child protection expert Ann Marie Christian. Ann Marie helps schools, organisations, charities, churches and childcare settings to implement their statutory duty and responsibility in keeping children safe. She set up Child 1st Consultancy Limited in 2010 after working for a local authority in frontline child protection since 1996. She works in partnership with colleagues in various settings and supports them in offering bespoke intense support via training and consultancy.