Changes to cigarette packaging
Will plain cigarette packaging really
make a difference?
We've all seen the horrible pictures of some blackened lungs and corroded livers flaunted on most cigarette packets; advertising death threat slogans- 'smoking kills'. But has this made any difference?
The government has called for an independent review of cigarette packaging in England to take action to discourage young smokers.
What are young peoples attitudes to smoking? Perhaps smoking has become 'cool' for some young people, something to show rebellion against their parents and something to portray their individual right to 'do whatever they want'. This is a natural response for many young people, exploring their right to develop as individuals and learn about the big wide world out there. I personally do not believe that having plain packaging will prevent this.
Plain packaging will make the cigarettes look less appealing to young people. In the image conscious society we are growing up in, this seems a logical and worthwhile action. However, I question firstly: how many young people go into a shop and buy cigarettes straight from a shopkeeper? Firstly, it is illegal for under 18's to buy them. And secondly, young people are still buying them even with the rising costs soaring. And I personally believe young people are more likely to be put off by the cost of something than the look of the packaging.
Young people will find a way to explore this rebellious streak in any capacity- whether that be through smoking, alcohol or sex. Young people need education to support the idea that 'smoking kills' but in a less forceful way. For a young and agile person, death is miles away from their minds. Young people cannot relate to 'death' and throwing shock tactics down their throats, has not worked. Young people need real life accounts, more links with the elderly community who are actually real life victims of smoking related illnesses portraying their stories. This will reach out to young people more effectively because as humans we like to hear about other human experiences; we all thrive off each other and rely on each other to learn, grow and develop.
Young people also need distraction; they need a focus to channel all their youthful energies into. This can come in a wide variety of forms, but I believe the key is extra curricular activities and work experience. How can young people be expected to gain work experience for their chosen profession if there is very little help available? Recent cuts have meant lots of young people don't have access to a decent careers advice/many work experience co-ordinators no longer exist. Many young people don't know how, or who to go to about work experience and this needs to change. The government cannot just expect young people to stop smoking and engage in positive activities, without giving them the support and chance to do so.
This is why I believe that plain packaging is not the answer.
My Taunton Whistler
It has become common knowledge that many young people, both men and women, suffer with self confidence about their body image. There is a lot of awareness about the effects of this: Self harm, weight issues, depression and many, many more.
We're constantly fed images of perfection, or rather society's ideals of ‘perfection'. Stereotypically we think of women being the victims of this social pressure, however it is becoming more and more of a male problem. With a rise in male icons, there is an increasing amount of pressure on young men with regards to what they should look like and wear.
I recently experienced an event that really made me think about my own image.
After a considerably messy art lesson, despite wearing an apron, I had managed to get white acrylic paint all down myself. Jumper and jeans covered. In the session I had also been using charcoal, and for anyone who has ever handled it will know the black smudge goes everywhere; and it did.
Every evening after college I meet my mum in Taunton town center. Realizing the time, late as usual, I rushed out the college gates.
Whilst on my journey to town I realized what a scruff I looked like. With the added ‘dragged through a hedge backwards' hair that the wind had kindly styled for me. I truly looked like a scarecrow.
As I continued walking a group of about 5 girls began to walk behind me and I was convinced whole heartedly that their laughter was aimed at me and the way I looked. I refrained from turning around, just in case.
I was almost at my destination when I heard it. The most beautiful whistling I'd ever had the privilege to hear. I turned around and looked to see who was making such an uplifting sound. After briefly looking, I couldn't see who it was so sat down.
As I sat on the bench the whistler walked passed me. He was a grey old man, shuffling on at a steady pace with a dog by his side. Still whistling.
There was something about this man that just seemed over joyed, full of autumnal spirit.
It was then I realized how much of an idiot I had been. Here I was so concerned with what I looked like and my image, and there was a man who was full of happiness unable to see his.
I'm not encouraging everyone to go out wearing their art lesson on their clothes; but I am encouraging everyone to maybe think, ‘is image everything?'
Here is the website for: The Guide Dog UK charity for the blind and the partially sighted.
MYP for South Somerset
Meeting SCC Councillors
Jeff, Zara, Gail and I spent yesterday afternoon with ten county councillors, telling them about the work of Somerset Youth and Community Service, covering everything from community support to grant programmes to the work of the UK Youth Parliament.
The councillors were all very interested and enthusiastic about youth provision in their areas and most had ideas about who to point in our direction or other things that they could do to improve the lot of young people in their divisions. We gave away lots of leaflets, forms and contact cards and are very hopeful about working (or continuing to work) with the councillors and their communities in the future.
NEW Benchmark Scheme
Diploma in Youth Work Practice
The Youth Work Unit at Learning South West is currently running a Level 3 course in youth work and I am on the staff team as an assessor. We had our first assessors meeting last week and I have met two out of my three students already. It's a year or so since I did any assessing and getting back into it again has been a challenge - my eyes cross trying to cross reference evidence to criteria!
Seriously though, its been lovely meeting my students and talking youth work and youth development - I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the assessors role - particularly when the students are so enthusiastic. As usual though, I expect to learn as much from the students as they might learn with me. I'm off to meet my third student shortly and fully expect him to be as interesting as the others. Will keep you posted about how it goes.Kirstie Brown Senior Youth & Community Worker
Youth Councils Training Day
On 27th October we held a youth councils training day at Morley House in Yeovil. Youth Councils for Frome, Ilchester, Martock, South Petherton, and Yeovil came along and took part in workshops on equality and diversity, research and representation and presentation skills. They also did some action planning and eating pizza! Unfortunately, the severe weather warning meant that we didn't get to go bowling as people were concerned about getting back safely. This has turned into a good thing, because we all agreed that we would meet up again in January to update each other on the progress of plans and go bowling then instead.
There is also the possibility of having a countywide youth councils residential weekend in March, which will hopefully include the five who attended the training day and representatives from the ten new youth councils that Somerset Youth and Community Service has recently commissioned.
The training day was great and the young people were stars - it was good to hear about all the things they are doing in their communities - not only for young people but for the benefit of all ages. There's a current push from Prince Charles to encourage more young people to volunteer - these youth councils are brilliant examples of young people volunteering in action. Fingers crossed for the bowling in January and the residential weekend in March!Zara Scott-Davies Senior Youth & Community Worker
UK Youth Parliament Residential
Last weekend (4th – 6th October) we took the UK Youth Parliament Advisory Group away on a training residential at Osmington Bay in Devon. 17 Young people from the group came with Kate, myself and Craig (our male worker, who came along although he was full of cold – brave Craig) and had a brilliant time.
We started with an evening on getting to know the site and team building activities - the alien space ship docking stations were great. The group excelled themselves with their considerate behaviour over night and we faced a full-on Saturday (with full stomachs thanks to Osmington's lovely breakfasts!).
First off, Anna from Sounds Positive did a media workshop, equipping the young people to deal with all things publicity. This was followed by a campaigning workshop from Kate which helped the group to better plan their manifesto campaigns. We then retired (!) to the giant swing for an hour and half of terrifying ourselves at great heights. Saturday evening was full of the public speaking skills workshop. The ‘World’s Worst Presentations’ really were the worst and the ‘Just a minute’ exercise (familiar to all who listen to Radio 4) was loud, funny and a great way of finding out how good you are at winging it. The group even chose to finish the workshop (which over ran) rather than have free time – that’s what I call commitment!
Again the group were wonderfully behaved overnight and, again, Sunday was full of work. We started the day with a bang – or rather a leap – doing the ‘Trapeze’ - a climb up a thirty foot pole and a jump into the fresh air from the ridiculously tall, wobbling, pole (all with safety ropes, I hasten to add). We then retreated to the relative safety of a research skills workshop, complete with the wearing of paper hats. After this, we looked at roles within the group and voted for a chair, vice-chair etc. We finished the weekend off with completion of Endeavour Credits and evaluations (which were all very positive).
Everyone was very tired on the way home and there was a general feeling that a good time was had by all. The weather was lovely, the daddy long-legs invasive and food plentiful. However, the best thing about the whole weekend was the good humour, hard work and complete commitment by the group to get the most out of the weekend and so do the best they can for their constituents - all young people across Somerset.
Kirstie Brown Senior Youth & Community Worker
Senior Youth and Community Worker
I wanted to let people know about a Volunteer from Burnham on Sea called Jonathan Smith. Jon supports many groups working with young people in his community such as the Burnham Dreamscheme, The Vine youth club in Bridgwater and the Monday Club in Burnham on Sea.
This year Jonathan was thanked in person by London 2012 chief Lord Coe for helping hundreds of people get involved in sport.
Jonathan, who is 21, received a VIP invitation to the official opening of the Copper Box Arena in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this summer. He was one of 70 volunteers crowned as Community Games Shining Lights who were invited to meet Lord Coe during the weekend's Anniversary Olympic Games celebrations.
Jonathan said: “It was a real honour to meet Lord Coe, and to be representing Burnham at such a big event”. Jon went on to say how he got involved with working with young people because he was tired of all the bad publicity in the press about young people. Jonathan wanted to do something positive in his community that demonstrated how young people can make a difference and contribute to their communities.
Jonathan is certainly a volunteer to be proud off and I wanted to let you all know about his achievements and the great work he continues to do.
Well done Jonathan and thank you.
Gail McCarthySenior Youth & Community Worker
UKYP Annual Sitting 2013
The MYP Annual Sitting, Leeds University
26th July-28th July 2013
Over 250 Members of Youth Parliament met from across Britain to participate in workshops, discuss and debate new policy for the 2014 UKYP Manifesto, develop the national campaign and plan the Make Your Mark ballot which is a great democratic exercise for young people across the country. Make Your Mark gives young people everywhere the chance to vote on the most important issues for them. Thousands of ballot papers are distributed through schools, youth projects and colleges each year. Needless to say, it's a huge challenge for the MYPs and culminates in the live UKYP House of Commons debate in November.
This year, instead of getting a train, the Somerset MYPs; Ellen, Jake, Thrinayani and Cat travelled by coach to the Sitting. The coach had travelled from Cornwall during the early hours, so the Somerset group felt they couldn't really complain! Besides, they were all excited and managed to get to the University campus in time for lunch!
The Speaker of the House of Commons the Rt Hon Jon Bercow MP opened proceedings, and former Children and Young People's Minister Tim Loughton MP attended one of the fringe consultations. Also attending were the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP; Ed Timpson MP, a Minister at the Department for Education who had responsibility for UKYP, and his successor Nick Hurd MP, Minister at the Cabinet Office. Nick is now the Minister responsible for youth policy. Some of the MYPs think that moving UKYP to the Cabinet Office with a focus on democracy could give the group more leverage. At the very least, it's an interesting position for UKYP to be in. The MYPs had the opportunity to ask questions and meet some of the MPs. The delegation also had the opportunity to listen to presentations from young people who are vulnerable and in the care system. UKYP are keen to promote the voice of young people in care and the needs of young people living in poverty. The Somerset MYPs found this moving and powerful.
In addition they attended a presentation from Pam Warhurst, Chair and founder of Incredible Edible, a project which demonstrates the growth and power of collective grass roots community action. The Somerset MYPs were inspired and motivated by Pam's no-nonsense, practical approach to barriers, as well as her passion, humour, tenacity and energy.
The Somerset MYPs engaged fully with every aspect of weekend and really took inspiration from the staff, the speakers and each other. The South West in particular have a positive, constructive and collaborative rapport amongst the young people and workers alike. Our MYPs, Deputies and advisory groups have managed to get the most petitions signed nationally for the Curriculum for Life Campaign so far. Somerset MYPs have also committed to setting a target of collecting 7,000 Make Your Mark votes from young people. Soon they will be distributing ballots and voting boxes around local schools etc; speaking in assemblies; meeting young people in projects and raising awareness of UKYPAG and supporting issues which are important to young people across Somerset. As well as this MYPs are still working on their local campaigns and developing stronger links with local MPs and decision makers.Kate Darlington Senior Practitioner with Inspired to Achieve and Somerset UK Youth Parliament Advisory Group support worker.