What is it and who is it for?
The Safe Hands programme was designed and developed by us to be our primary approach for delivering bespoke early intervention and prevention programmes. While the programme forms the core elements of many of our projects, it is under continuous review to ensure it remains relevant to the needs of participants and funders. It is also informed by new and emerging thinking and practice for children, young people, families and communities.
Safe Hands has at its heart the children, young people, families and communities that we have worked with and will work with in the future. It is in essence a resilience building programme imbued with life skills.
The core elements of the programme focus on:- decision making; choices and the consequences of choices; relationships; self-esteem; aspirations and ambitions, risky behaviours/situations and coping mechanisms.
What we did
We tailor and augment the activities of the programme to ensure the needs of the participants are also factored in as well as any pressing locality issues.
Safe Hands is currently delivered in educational settings i.e. schools and colleges though we are not limited to these arenas, we have also previously delivered it in a community setting. When working in schools we support the school to ensure that those selected for the programme are likely to derive greatest benefit from their participation. The schools provide short biographies for each participant which helps us to understand more fully the needs of participants and ensure we deliver sensitively to their needs.
The programme usually runs for 6 sessions, though we have run longer programmes, each session aims to last for an hour and a half (though where appropriate we amend accordingly), and is usually completed within a twelve week window. Allowing a week gap between each session is to allow the participants opportunities to reflect and put into practice things they have taken away from the programme.
The programme is not about telling participants what they should or should not be doing rather it presents them with options/consequences around a set of issues. What is fascinating to observe is that initial views/responses are often altered following regulation by peers. It is important that participants learn the importance of self-regulation and this programme allows them access to the tools that support this area of their development.
We deploy a range of creative tools and activities to convey the messages, maintain engagement and ensure that the learning is fun. Our techniques include debating issues and using video to encourage discussion. We try to use activities that mean participates are not always sat down in a classroom type setting. We also ensure that the activities are appropriate for each group of participants. For example, we utilise more arts based activities in the primary school setting as we have found that this improves the learning experience.
We provide all participants with a journal to be used as they wish though we encourage they use it to record, in text or pictures, the things that are important to them i.e. their feelings, their worries and concerns, dreams and aspirations. It is also a tool for self-reflection as well as an ad memoir. Prior to the introduction of the journals we loaned participants video recorders to record their daily activities as well as their worries/concerns etc. It was great for them to have a visual record of their time on the programme. Producing the dvd as a keep sake proved extremely challenging but some participants declined because they thought recording their daily activities was too intrusive, which we respected, but did not want people excluded from this aspect of the programme so paper journals we issued instead which are kept private unless participants wish to share entries for 1-2-1 discussion or whole group discussion.
Our approach is relaxed and informal which engenders trust, ensuring that our participants are able to speak freely about how they are feeling in a safe and non-judgemental space.