The team at Oasis Hub: Oldham are always on the lookout for creative people with a drive to make change, lead and develop new projects. This is what first attracted Hub Leader, Rowan Stevenson. With a background as a singer and performer, Rowan joined us from OddArts in Manchester where she ran Arts workshops for teenagers at risk of isolation and crime involvement.
But it’s Rowan’s unique approach to working with young people that makes what is happening at the Hub so special.
The Youth Achievement Project at Oasis Academy Oldham works with referred students in years 9-11, and those who have left school and not in education or employment (NEET). One-to-one and wellbeing sessions, in partnership with Reform Radio, are a core part of the work aiming to connect with people who don’t know what they want to do post-education or how to even explore their options.
At the centre of everything is the young person. Rowan intentionally separates herself from being seen as a figure of authority “telling them what to do”, and instead stands beside each of them acting as a guide to unlocking their futures. Using active listening she tries to meet each young person, where they are; whatever their interests, hobbies or passions, that could be the key to starting a conversation about what the future holds. Sometimes that even means picking apart why their favourite Netflix programme resonates with them, and what it is about what they’re watching that brings them joy on a deeper level!
“It’s definitely not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. It’s so relational and dependent on where the young person is in life. If they’re not ready, you can’t push them to get there.”
Last year, Rowan worked with around 45 young people, supporting them to build confidence through choirs, volunteering opportunities, transition sessions, application writing, interview practice, conflict sessions, gardening projects, cookery classes, and philosophical conversations over a cup of tea to name some!
Talking to Rowan about the future of the Project, it became apparent that the post-covid world will bring with it a number of factors to contend with, with funding being a key contributor. “The educational fall out of children whose skills aren’t where they should be – more than just soft skills – will mean we’ll need all hands on deck!”
When the Hub works at its best, and with the beauty of the early intervention in place, the young people of Oldham will have 3 years of in-school support, followed by the benefit of the Hub’s strong connections with community partners after leaving year 11.
If you would like to find out more about what Rowan does, and the wider work of the Hub, visit their website at http://www.oasishuboldham.org/.