Where the Charity JUMP fills the gap, is to provide a bridge through mentoring the youngsters. This provides training and volunteering opportunities, skills and experience. It is run by the young people for the young people. JUMP offers the safe haven these youngsters need and a place for them to come where they will not be judged. Not judging is one of the key lessons that Louise has taken away with her from her own personal journey. Louise goes on to explain that it’s about respecting the kids. JUMP doesn’t expect the youngsters to be respectful first, before it is given. It is there already. It comes back to the fact that they do not judge any young person who comes through the doors, no matter the severity of the young person’s life, or if they might just be need a place to hang out and be heard.
JUMP has its policies, boundaries and rules, but they let the young people decide how the project will run, how it will work and in this spirit of co-operation, respect comes back to the volunteers and staff at JUMP quite naturally. <em><strong>Respect and non judgement are the crucial</strong></em> <em><strong>two factors that provides the sanctuary that allows young people to turn their life around. </strong></em>
For Louise the whole point of JUMP and Jump Start (which is another arm of the organisation) is to provide this type of support and guidance. It’s important with young people leaving school at an early age, without qualifications, to find out what it is they are good at, and once that is discovered they can be mentored through a process that will teach them how to start their own charity or social enterprise. Along the way, they will have gained valuable life experiences and skills in the process.
Louise laughs as she tells me she that she is now qualified in Leadership and Management, Community and Voluntary organisation development, various youth roles and she is also a qualified accredited trainer who delivers training on a regular basis. Her qualifications run to a whole page. In addition, in the three and half years of running JUMP she has raised £600,000. Some” waste of space”! She is living proof that change happens.
“<span style=”font-size: x-small;”><em><strong>What’s great about JUMP is that it is my story, but it now belongs to the young people who use it, so although they like to hear my story and they really respect the fact that I set it up and love to hear how it came to be, it is theirs. They call me the nice Head teacher. I can be strict and challenging when needed, but they like me for it.” </strong></em></span>
Because the project is partly the young people’s, there is an attitude of shared ownership, it’s refreshing to hear Louise speak in such generous terms allowing the youngsters a chance to contribute towards JUMP and not be dictated to. There is active involvement whilst they learn new skills and personal qualities. Louise speaks with pride and joy about the youngsters she works with and offers a fast snapshot into some of the daily involvement the young people have.
“They get involved with every aspect of the project including interviewing new staff, and the comments they say can be memorable. It’s so good to see their faces and see how occupied they are. <em><strong>When they take people around, they behave very professionally, and these are the same kids that aren’t in school because they have behavioural issues. </strong></em>People in main stream in education have said you won’t be able to work with them they are too hard to work with.”
Louise is quick to point out that JUMP is not a free for all whereby the young can for what ask for what they want and just get it. Like ‘Go Karting’ was recently asked for and given the “No.” As she points out, when they ask for what they want and give reasons why they want it, it is taken seriously and considered, but isn’t always given. The youngsters are sometimes asked to think of how they can raise the funds for what they want as well.
There are so many parents whom Louise speaks to, that think “have I done something wrong?” They ask, “why is my child going through this?” They feel like they are the only ones. She is able to reassure parents by letting them know, it’s not what a parent has done or hasn’t done, and most importantly that they aren’t alone.
In speaking to parents who are facing difficulties with their children, Louise offers this wise message. She says the key to working with the young people is to communicate with them. Taking time to have the conversation about what is needed for them, what can the parents do to support the children? She also suggests that it’s ok to refer to services like JUMP. Anyone can refer, schools tend to, but <em><strong>parents think that they should be able to cope and don’t always. </strong></em> Some see this as a failure, but <em><strong>Louise suggests that it’s about offering a break for both the parents and the young person by offering that extra support. </strong></em> Louise stresses how important it is to ask for help, even though doing so can seem as if we aren’t capable of dealing with our problems. Louise is keen to let parents know that it’s wise to ask when help is needed. This is part of JUMP’s wider role too, to help the community and the parents. Louise is adamant that everything be done to make sure that the young people are given a fair chance.
With Jump Start, the other arm of her business that aims to offer and deliver packages for youngsters and organisations who want to start a Social Enterprise. She is able to combine her experience with her message and she hopes to go out and inspire young people and adults with what is possible.
She suggests that we put on new spectacles, the kind that look at young people through different eyes. Instead of seeing a young person who has done something wrong, and delivering just punishment only, she says it’s also about providing support to help change what has been missing. She would like all of us who deal with youngsters to think about our small actions and words and how they have such a massive impact on young people. It’s important to understand that the impact makes a difference.
The kind of support that Louise would like is surprising. She says, “of course the finance side of things is important, but what is more so is getting the word out and spreading the word about JUMP.”
The charity’s other key areas where it can be supported is to manage the administration. To help make sure that JUMP is working to its best practice with the policies, procedures providing safety for the young people, staff and volunteers, and that these are adhered to at all times. She says that she is always looking for Trustees to help take the charity forward, and to take it to the next level, and she would even love people putting comments on Facebook. Raising the profile of the Charity is always helpful from small to large efforts.
Looking at the wider implications of helping educate and guide young people into adult hood, we need to understand that a wider perspective is required which involves us all. Perhaps the enlightened perspective would be to instigate diverse “halls of learning” within the safety of the school environment that facilitates and encourages the different learning styles that human beings encompass. Perhaps we need to look at breaking down the barriers between different groups of people, and to reach out more. Wouldn’t this then help the young people of today adjust into the complex world of adult hood more gracefully?
She finishes her story on a poignant note that hopefully will remind us all that not all young people have the support of a family tucked away that they can go back to, and some may have the family, but not be welcomed. She reminds me of this, and that her turn around didn’t happen overnight, it took time she recalls. It took quite a few months for Louise to stop using the drugs and to really really focus on what it was she wanted and how to move her life forward.
“People often say to me you must really regret what you did and what you went through, but I don’t regret what I went through. I regret the people I hurt, but all the experiences I went through have made me the person I am today and it’s made me want to help all the young people that are out there. It’s taught me a lot in life and some of it wasn’t nice at all, but it’s created a charity to help young people, and now it’s helping me to use Jump Start for other groups and organisations. There is a great quote that I came across by Bill Millican she finishes with,
“It’s not the programmes, it’s the people behind the programmes that actually change the lives of young people, and young people thrive to have 1:1 interaction with adults, to help support them and change their lives.”
To get in contact with Louise to help out or if you want to start your own programme then contact her on: