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Each month we will be bringing you updates on Foyers which have undertaken to transform their service by embedding Open Talent and adopting a new way of working and we hope you’ll follow them on their journey.

This month we’re focusing on Doncaster Foyer

The background

Earlier this year, the Foyer Federation invited all of our members to regional Open Talent Inspire Days, with the aim to explore a new approach to working with young people that emphasises talent-spotting and talent-building. An application process followed, for Foyers to secure the Open Talent Service Development Package (OTSDP). Six Foyers were selected from Round 1, each on the strength of a solid application and the commitment to transform their service to open talent in all young people and to develop advantaged thinking culture and working practices. You can follow their Open Talent journey in our E-bulletin.

Doncaster Foyer Journey to Open Talent … The Story so Far…

by Karen Venables

It’s amazing what you can discover when you open your eyes …

Doncaster Foyer’s journey to “Open Talent” started in May 2012. Wasting no time getting to grips with the concepts of advantaged thinking, we decided to launch immediately into a Foyer Talent Show.
Project Worker, Katie Leivers and a group of residents began the long process of script writing and countless rehearsals. After about six weeks we found ourselves in the local Salvation Army Church witnessing some exceptional and quite tear jerking talents. These included beautiful vocals, amazing beat boxing skills, outstanding drumming, a wonderful violin piece and some great guitar playing and rapping. Delivered in the style of Britain’s Got Talent, the judging talents of three residents were also evident when they choose the winner.

This talent show certainly kicked off the conversation of “talent” which trickled through the resident community and has set the foundations firmly in place for the Open Talent Service Delivery Package.

Former professional basketball player Carl Miller came along to Doncaster Foyer in July to deliver his inspiring Ignite Day. Carl is no stranger to Doncaster Foyer having delivered two Basket Ball Programmes in previous years. However, it was great for the new resident community to experience first hand Carl’s unique way of using sport to build our self-belief and self-esteem. Staff and residents alike had an amazing day and were left extremely motivated to start discovering talent… If not somewhat exhausted and sweaty by the final game!!!

Our Talent Bond process has been totally designed by residents. Impressed by their ability to just get things done, staff have witnessed the Talent Bond Steering Group agree the application and decision making process and the applications have been submitted thick and fast. Five successful awards have been made so far which have enabled the Working Assets project to get underway.

Residents decided for their Working Assets project that they not only wanted places within the Foyer that inspired and nurtured talent but they wanted to share their talents with other residents. The Foyer has always benefited from the traditional training and learning environment but the residents decided that these spaces were outdated and not conducive to discovering, exploring or growing their talents.

We have been surprised by the musical and artistic talents that our young people naturally possess and in response to this, the Working Assets Steering Group has started work on their music space. Transforming the current fitness suite to also accommodate a music room, they are currently at the stage of purchasing a range of musical equipment so they can continue with their band practice and open mic events. A creative art room and wellbeing space is also being developed by the residents and work has now started on the interior design of the walls using residents’ own art work.

We have a number of Resident Peer Talent Coaches who are already using their talents and interests to benefit the wider resident community. We have a Basket Ball Talent Coach who has used his Talent Bond to purchase his strip… and he is now in the middle of delivering a course of 6 Basket Ball Sessions to other residents. Another talented resident has drawn on his experience of coaching young people during the Homeless World Cup trials and is now motivating other residents to attend the football sessions that he is organising.

We have also taken a fresh approach to communicating and sharing our talent stories with residents, other Foyers and the local community. We have an exciting Facebook page where resident achievements and progress through the Open Talent Development Package are well documented. Using this form of social media has enabled us to connect with our residents and has gone some way in preparing us for MyNav. A couple of Resident MyNav Champions are in place and are building their profiles in preparation for encouraging more residents to get on board.

Our journey so far has been packed with energy, new ideas and a real investment in young people’s talents. We are now looking forward to the Working Assets project coming to fruition in the coming months with a host of Resident Talent Coaches and talent nurturing spaces, receiving exciting applications for the Talent Bonds and sharing our experiences. Most importantly, we are looking forward to discovering more young people’s special and unique talents along the way.

Original content by the Foyer Federation
December 12, 2012


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