Our Youth Services team is supporting young people to live their best life, one day at a time.
Through our Flexible Learning Options (FLO) program, we are helping people who are highly disengaged from education on their journey back into learning, training or employment pathways.
The program involves case managers building strong, meaningful relationships with young people and over time, assisting them to set goals and achieve agreed outcomes.
FLO coordinator Fiona Winter says it can be a long road, as many participants have not attended school for several years, while others have struggled to even leave their house.
Many have also been let down by the adults in their life, meaning building confidence in their youth worker can take considerable time.
“Many of the clients we work with possess protective factors, such as mistrust, which given their background of grief, loss and trauma is completely understandable,” Fiona says.
“By using consistency and persistence, we show them we are reliable people in their life that won’t give up on them.
“We respectively challenge them as we wish to challenge the common belief they often have around not being capable.
“We work from a strengths perspective to empower them to reach their full potential.”
UnitingSA started running FLO in the southern suburbs this year following the closure of a provider, Re-Engage Youth Services.
We were awarded the privilege to work with this cohort because of our proven ability to deliver positive outcomes for young people in the northern suburbs, where we have been running FLO for several years.
Fiona says a lot of time, resources and effort went into initially helping the young people in the south through the transition process.
We are now working with almost 100 young people in the region, and a further 30 in the north.
“Because we have developed these strong relationships, we are getting impressive outcomes,” Fiona says.
“Clients who haven’t left the house in years, engaged in education for a long period of time, or were in a space of feeling helpless, are now developing clear goals for their future and are working towards them.”
As well as one-on-one case management, we run a variety of engagement programs for FLO participants to help build social connections and develop skills.
These include but are not limited to wellbeing programs, art classes, golf lessons and a woodworking group (pictured right).
“These programs help to assist their socialisation skills, behaviour management and emotional intelligence,” Fiona explains.
“It helps them get out of the house for the first time in years, and supports them in dealing with a myriad of mental health issues.
“The programs also provide a gateway to accredited learning.”
Another key element of FLO is helping participants build a network of support – known as their community of care.
“That’s so vitally important because generally the demographic we assist have few positive connections regarding family, friends and key professionals,” Fiona says.
“One of our main roles is to remedy this to help them to feel more connected to their community.
“It is a fundamental human need to be social and feel like you belong.”
Fiona says above all, “we are in a privileged position to work with these young people”.
“Although at times outcomes can be slow and setbacks can present, it’s important to remember that we are providing them with opportunities that they would not otherwise have.
“Persistence, consistency, relationships and a strengths approach is key and it is wonderful to see the outcomes that we are achieving.”
Find out more about Flexible Learning Options by calling 8281 4137.