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Broadening aspirations through ASDAN Short Courses

Portishead Youth Centre has delivered innovative youth work in its local community for nearly six decades. An independent operation since 2012, the centre has evolved into a vibrant hub offering a range of activities and support for children and their parents, as well as the wider community. Kim Jones, a dedicated member of the team, shared her insights into the profound impact that ASDAN Short Courses have on their young people.

“We are a youth and community centre that delivers alternative education provision and mentoring during the day. The evenings are when we run our youth club sessions. Local businesses hire rooms from us, and that income helps to fund our work with young people. A large part of this is supporting them with access to ASDAN courses, while making use of the facilities and the skills and experience of our staff here.”

“We use lots of different ASDAN Short Courses, depending on the interests of the learners or areas where they might have gaps in knowledge. Some of the most common ones we use include Expressive Arts, Sports and Fitness, FoodWise, or Living Independently. The Short Courses are a wonderful tool for us to help integrate young people into the community and engage with different local services for them.”

“The fact that the courses are very flexible, hands on and activity-based works so well for us. They can be differentiated depending on the needs of the learners we are working with. Because they are made up of lots of activities broken down into small chunks, it's very achievable for them and not overwhelming. Going out and doing things in the community is important, as is not having lots of writing to do. It's crucial that they’re not sat in front of a piece of paper and a pen, because that just wouldn't work for some of our young people.”

“The Animal Care Short Course is another popular choice.
One of our colleagues has got lots of experience working with animals and is expertly placed to support our learners with the challenges, such as teaching them how to care for different types of pets. We’ve got connections with the local animal rescue centre, so we’ve been able to arrange visits from them, helping to cement those connections with the wider local community.”

Kim explains how community engagement has led to successful outcomes.

“For the Gardening Short Course, we worked with an organisation that oversees all the flower beds and planters around Portishead. Through this work, we entered a competition for gardens run by young people in the South West and came first place! Engaging with the course gave our learners that opportunity to be part of a national judging scheme and have their efforts formally recognised, which was such a massive achievement for them.”

Empowering learners 

“Some of our young people have experienced adverse childhood experiences, with significant gaps in their social and emotional learning. Completing their ASDAN challenges allows them to have certain experiences for the first time. It could be something simple like going to the shops independently with a budget, or visiting a farm – things that a lot of us would take for granted, but they've never really had the opportunity or been supported to do. It helps to fill those gaps and develop the skills they need to engage positively in social situations with members of the public.”  

“Some of our learners come to us while sitting their GCSEs and often struggle with attainment and are expecting to leave education with few qualifications. The ASDAN courses offer them a way to achieve something. They can gain a certificate and put it on their CV, demonstrating they are able to be committed and work hard. It also instils a sense of pride in them, as for many aspects of their lives they're not going to be achieving in the same way as their peers. Having something that they can be proud of is so significant to them.”

“Any young person that completes an ASDAN course with us is something that we're incredibly proud of. With a lot of these individuals, it’s against the odds as they don't fit into their mainstream school box and struggle to thrive in normal classroom settings. Providing opportunities for them to learn in a way that they can easily access and feel comfortable with is so great.”

Bringing young people together

“We've seen a big shift in the way that friends engage with each other. Nowadays, they don't need to leave their bedrooms to keep in touch. A lot of our young people are keen to learn, so we use ASDAN courses to bring them together through shared interests. The youth club used to be a place to socialise, and they would end up learning through the different activities. Now, they come to the youth club to learn and as a result, end up socialising. It gives them a reason to come out of the house and away from their phones.”

“The massive range of Short Courses available from ASDAN means that there's always something for everyone. That's why we use it as a basis for our learners, because it’s so flexible and explores areas of learning and curriculum that they wouldn't necessarily access at school. We're broadening their aspirations in terms of careers and showing them what else is available out there, and that's a really nice position to be in as youth workers.”

Take a look at the Short Courses we have to offer and get in touch to find out how ASDAN can help your learners.