Situated in the centre of Stanmore, Winchester; the Carroll Centre is an established community organisation that has been providing needs-led provision to children, young people and families for the past twenty years. By exploring the aims and objectives of this agency, along with the services provided and how they are shaped by accompanying policies, I will begin to examine my work within the agency, comparing their purposes to my own values as a youth worker and how these correlate to the aims of the centre.
Stanmore is recognised as a priority community by Winchester City Council, as an ‘estate which is among the third most deprived areas in the country’ (Masker, 2013). Young people in this area do not engage effectively with education or training, failing to achieve their potential, which means they are at a higher risk of participating in anti-social behaviour and experiencing unemployment as they become adults. The Carroll Centre is the heart of the community, fostering integration and community cohesion, promoting an inclusive and diverse environment that encourages community pride (Carroll Centre, 2013). By offering a variety of services and activities, the centre aims to empower children, young people and families to participate in community led activities that address their needs and interests.
Provisions are offered through utilising a range of approaches. Open-access facilities and community events that are inclusive of all ages encourage participation and cohesion among local residents, increase social capital and work to build a strong sense of community and trust through face-to-face encounters (Beem, 1999). Whereas sessions developed around specific audiences allow for targeted and bespoke activities to be delivered to its service users. This includes three age-specific youth sessions operated by the centre, which provide sport, art and music projects centred on relevant issue-based themes and conversation, in an atmosphere that is both stimulating and safe. Cotterell (1996) asserts that offering young people the space to interact with peers in a non-judgemental and accepting environment enables them to explore social horizons, develop their personal identities and embrace independence.
Collaborative sessions, in partnership with local authorities and other organisations, are also delivered within the centre. Youth Matters (Department of Education, 2005) highlights the variable quality of information that is available to young people, so by fostering a multi-agency approach the centre ensures service users are exposed to a broad range of relevant information and guidance, opening up further opportunities and allowing them to make better informed choices.
Endorsing these approaches and tying them together are the accompanying policies and procedures that shape all work delivered in association with the centre, ensuring appropriate standards are maintained throughout. Within the centre’s comprehensive guidelines there are a...