From Britain with Love
A successful English approach in working with young homeless people
It seems so logical: taking young people’s talents as point of departure. But it doesn’t happen often enough in practice. In England they developed Open Talent, a very successful approach. Movisie imports this approach to the Netherlands using the name 100% Talent. The inspiration manual '100% Talent' uses Dutch examples of talent focused work with young people.
Charlotte Schippers, secretary of the collective Campus Diep in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands, spent three months in England to experience how they work with young people at the Foyer Federation, a shelter for young homeless people aged between 16 and 25. They focus solely on the strengths of a young person, instead of on his or her problems. 'We are familiar with strengths based work in the Netherlands', Schippers relates, 'but in the English Foyers they really live this vision. Very impressive!'
Not just survive but flourish
During the 100% Talent Event on 16 April 2015 the initiators of the English Foyer Federation were invited to the Netherlands. This allowed the participants to become acquainted with good examples and tools with which to apply a talent focused approach in their own organisations. The Foyer approach is 100% Talent: a way to seduce people to give their best. The aim is to let young people revive instead of just surviving. It challenges them to widen their horizons, increase their ambitions and go in search of their dreams and talents. The professional is there to help discover their talents, to coach them and to promote their actions.
The Campus Diep Talent trips are one example in the inspiration manual. Schippers: 'A group of young people each got a budget of 500 Euro and a travel agent to support them whenever needed. The young people could use it to realise what they wanted for their future: one of the young people used it to buy a good camera, another wanted to help his peers and spent it to participate in a Foyer Federation conference in England.'
Eye opener for coaches
It wasn’t easy for the young people to come up with ideas for spending their budget, but most of them came up with positive choices. It was an eye opener for the coaches too. 'That was actually the best part', Schippers relates. 'The coaches were really amazed by the young people’s maturity. They spend so much time in day-to-day reality considering their problems, that they almost fail to see their strengths.'
Another example is Beeworkz, a certified learning enterprise that allows young people to achieve Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) certificates at the end of their courses. Kelly Boskma and Marijke Boomsma, initiators of Beeworkz: 'We offer courses in the retail and catering industry, funded by municipalities, social benefits or personal budgets. The best part of talent focused work is that young people themselves find out what they are good at or what they really enjoy doing. They discover their talents! It gives them self confidence and makes them feel better about themselves.'
Practice what you preach
Entrepreneurs and local businesses are sometimes afraid to employ someone branded as problematic, the Beeworkz initiators say. 'That is why we took a lot of time to consider our mission and vision. When you believe in this approach and really are positive about it, others feel it too. We use this mission and vision in coaching our young people: practice what you preach.'