GeniUS! Youth Challenge Update

Having focused on meeting the current and future needs of our more mature residents in many of our GeniUS! challenges to date, the latest challenge saw the Innovate York team seek better ways to work with young people in York.

GeniUS! Youth saw us working in partnership with the York Integrated Youth Support Services in City of York Council and the York Youth Sector Partnership.  In many ways this challenge felt like a passing of the baton for the Innovate York team. Over the past 18 months and especially through challenges 5, 6 and 7 we have honed the three P’s of the GeniUS! process – Post, Participate, and Pilot.  We now have a process in place for each challenge where there is 4-6 weeks of discussions and posting of comments on the GeniUS! platform. This is followed by one of our Synergy Surgery events made up of facilitated group work participation where attendees pitch their ideas to a Dragon’s Den panel of experts at the end of the day. The third step in the process is to put together a solid business plan with the winning Dragon’s Den groups to put them in an advanced position to receive City of York Council Delivery and Innovation Funding (DIF). Ultimately this then leads to viable pilots being run in the city that benefit the citizens of York.  

Having heard of the success of previous Synergy Surgery events, the Integreted Youth Support Services team in the Council got in touch with us to see if they could host their challenge (which was already running on their York Youth platform) on our GeniUS! site and to run a Synergy Surgery style event in partnership with them. It was pleasing to see that the GeniUS! process has gained positive attention and that Council Services are now approaching us to make use of the open innovation process we have developed in York over the last two years.

The Integrated Youth Support Services team were seeking answers to the question ‘What could it look like if we worked together to use all our existing resources differently to create services that meet the needs of young people in York?  The ‘Positive for Youth’ government agenda recently encouraged a re-consideration of provision for young people, focussing strongly on the importance of cross-sector partnerships.  The GeniUS! approach and Synergy Surgery event is one of the Council’s ways to enable this.

So on February 6th over 60 people gathered at Clements Hall in York for Synergy Surgery: New Solutions for Working with Young People. There was a refreshing mix of attendees ranging from young actors from a theatre company based in York, police officers, council workers, and representatives from various charities such as York CVS, York Mind and the York Carers Centre.  It was a challenge to include many young people as it was during school term time, although the ones who were able to attend played a significant part in the day’s activities. And it was good to see that all the participants were focussed on the need to ensure the young people of York benefit from the outcomes of the day.

Hannah from the Youth Services team kicked off the day by gave us a stark reminder of our challenge here in York, by outlining some key stats such as how 9% of young people in York live in poverty.

Fired up by this and the inspirational presentation from Marcus Romer of Pilot Theatre which followed, all attendees were enthused to look for solutions.  Attendees broke into 6 groups to explore and address the main challenge areas as defined through discussions on the GeniUS! and York Youth platforms. Some of the topics up for discussion were: what kind of safe inclusive places exist that could support and engage young people?; how do we share training, resources and support better for all services working with young people?; and how can we better use communications tools and techniques to build better two-way relationships with young people and youth services?

While working on these challenges throughout the workshops all attendees were asked to keep in mind the York Youth Sector Partnership vision, which is to ensure a range of opportunities that engage, inspire and support young people enabling them to develop new skills, make new connections and take their place as active members of the community.

Following a day of animated group work, 6 groups pitched to what was probably the most memorable Dragon’s Den Panel on record. Alongside Innovate York’s Ian Graham, Owen Turner from United by Design and Simon Page, Head of Youth Services in CYC, were two local school children from Manor School. Honestly, they were the straightest talking, toughest, most ‘frightening’ judges we have had to date - they asked some challenging and insightful questions and really put the teams through their paces!

The 6 Groups who pitched to the panel came up with various innovative ideas to engage with young people including a Synergy Surgery run by young people for young people and a time-bank resource swapping idea for young people involving the whole community. The winning group which included young people from Pilot Theatre came up with an idea to create an award that would recognise excellence in arts and creativity for York’s Youth. The Integrated Youth Services team will now work alongside the winning group to develop this idea.

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