Youth Residents & Volunteers: Whitley Bay Lessons

I’ve been remiss at blogging the rest of my time in the UK. I’m back in the States as of Saturday and have had a whirlwind of a week back. So, here are a few final posts on my time in London.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday of last week visiting Depaul UK sites in the North East. This is a recap of my first day in the North East.

First up was their Youth Resource Centre in Whitley Bay.

I loved the setup of this building. The first floor houses a large and comfy reception room. The second floor serves as a hub for Depaul UK staff–the space is open and bright and staff noted that it fosters collaboration and coordination since everyone is all in one space.

But, my favorite part of this building is the drop-in area on the first floor; it is designed to be used by young adults accessing Depaul programming with space for program activities, games, and a cafe/coffeeshop for refreshment. I loved this set-up (and it reminded me of several similarly amazing Philly programs!).

While at the Resource Centre, I spoke to staff about their programming and key areas for learning. One of Depaul’s main programs is called Get Up and Go. This is their national program that aims to support young people affected by homelessness on their path to independent living, training, and employment. The program has 4 main categories:

  • Get Creative
  • Get Together
  • Get Healthy
  • Get the Skills to Success

It allows for a lot of flexibility to engage young people based on their own interests. This programming is entirely volunteer led. 

I also visited Depaul House in Whitley Bay.

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This supported housing project can accommodate 14 young people and was beautifully renovated last year. Each resident has their own room and ensuite bathroom (and small refrigerator) and share communal areas (including a beautiful and HUGE kitchen) with other residents.

I loved my time in Whitley Bay. Again, I think the most striking part of my visit was seeing how volunteers are used and are central to the programming there. Depaul UK, particularly in its North East programs, has been able to incorporate volunteers in a robust way. Depaul also offers a strong mentoring program with community members paired with young adults. I’m really fascinated by the level they’ve been able to effectively use volunteers. I think it can be such an incredibly transformative experience — for the volunteers, for the residents, and for the organization — and love that Depaul has made it such a core part of what they offer.

I would be interested to see if our burgeoning young adult programming at Project HOME could incorporate a similar focus on volunteers, mentoring, and community integration. We already see similar transformative work in our own internship and apprenticeship programming, the work of our Employment Services and Social Enterprise teams, and through many of our ongoing partnerships. I’d love to see if this focus could grow and expand throughout our young adult-specific programming.

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