CASE STUDY: Access All Areas – Giving young black boys a boost during a difficult year

Our Access All Areas pilot programme, generously funded by the Walcot Foundation, has just completed its second of three years. It has proven to be a crucial lifeline for black boys from poor families at The Elmgreen and Norwood schools. 

Despite the limitations placed on visits, trips and careers inspiration by Covid-19 restrictions, we have delivered more one to one coaching than planned, a series of inspirational workshops and a summer immersion in music industry careers.

“I’m sure the boys are seeing the effectiveness of the programme – they really do enjoy coming to your sessions”

Imani Harrison, Elmgreen School

One to one coaching

One to one coaching is key to our approach. Research has shown that building trust and offering consistent support and appropriate challenge can build resilience, motivation and sense of self. It has been particularly important during this difficult year and so we offered more coaching sessions than we had originally planned – 25 compared to 21 – and were able to maintain coaching sessions consistently throughout the year. During Lockdown coaching sessions took place on the phone via parents. 

The coaching is really appreciated by the school, pupils and their parents. It has helped and supported young people, as they themselves reflect:

“It has opened up my mind so I have an idea on what I’m doing in the future and it built my confidence.”

“It helped me find my passion and Ray and David are two friends that have impacted the story of me”

“It’s made me a better person mentally and give me ideas of what I want to do in the future and made me think about doing my own business”

AAA participants – year 10

Parents appreciate the input:

“It has helped him settle his mind and be more responsible.” 

“I am glad he is on the programme. It is helping him understand what it means to become a responsible Black man.”

“He likes the workshops and group activities. He also gets a chance to express himself.”

“He appears to be much more confident about himself, he talks more.”

“He likes the programme. He is reading more.” 

Parents of boys on AAA

Group workshops

We were able to offer workshops in the autumn term without restrictions, but due to the barriers that were presented by Covid we were could only run 6 workshops this year.

This year we worked with the boys on 

  • Man Box –  exploring masculinity
  • Growth Mindset
  • Story of Me
  • Future career and apprenticeships with an external guest
  • Music production and running your own business with an external guest

Careers Visits

We took our year 10 group on visits to:

  • Brixton Recording Studio – a professional sound recording studio in the heart of Brixton Market
  • Impact Brixton – a professional co-working space co-founded by Brixton born digital entrepreneur Gerald Vanderpuye
  • Raw Materials Music and Media – a creative learning space with recording studios, computer suite, DJ and music, video production and a live room for performance
  • AYM Media – a music promotion and events company who connect new British jazz talent with British brands.

The workshop at AYM Media group gave the boys a practical real-world task to come up with an idea that could attract more of an audience given the six channels that the company already uses. AYM Media founder AJ Haseley was impressed with their ideas and would love to provide a further experience for the boys at some stage in the future. 

The Story of Me

All year We Rise has been working with the boys to develop their Story of Me – who they are and where they want to go in the world

We have been working with the group at Norwood for two years and all nine have developed a very clear idea of who they are and all but one has a plan for their post 16 life. The Elmgreen pupils, although only in year 7, have quite a clear idea about where their passions and interests lie.

We have seen real improvements in the Norwood boys conduct over the last two years. Whenever we have had workshops the boys have been respectful, contributed well and above all have shown such maturity. This is so marked given when we first started to work with them two years ago. 

Feedback from Tutors showed improvements in confidence, positivity and resilience.

“He is more resilient, more positive about himself”

“More positive, more confident in class discussion”

“Really positive with me, thankful and happy”

“Though he is still quiet, he seems a little more confident this school year compared to last year”

“He has impressed me with his attitude and consistency towards learning.”

Comments from teachers

At Elmgreen we have only worked with a new cohort of year 7s for one year, but all 7 students who have been on the programme all year have developed in confidence and sense of self. 

Supporting resilience

This year has been challenging for many of the students in the cohort for different reasons. Despite the siginificant challenges they have faced our Coaches have noted improved resilience in 6 out of 9 students at Norwood.

Had injury this year. Come through that challenge. Been quite resilient. Meeting that full on. – not feeling sorry for himself. Managed well.

Despite death of mother attendance at school has been really good, school has been supporting place, now having to live with Dad, coping with change

Has joined the cadets, which has helped him in terms of his identity. Not a follower of the crowd.

Has changed his diet, much more aware about the importance of a good diet. Has quite a strong sense of self, will not follow the crowd. Able to maintain self control.

After the lockdown found it quite difficult having to move around two homes. Has since started to settle and in now much more flexible in terms of his future

Reports from We Rise Coaches

Looking ahead

We are excited to work with the boys this year and to support them as they each develop their identity as young men and forge their individual pathway to a successful future.

We are looking forward to providing an increased range of experiences, being able to hear them each present their Story of Me and to helping them formulate realistic career aspirations which can be turned into specific plans for their future. 

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