The project foresees:
A Train-the-trainer international event. The aim of this training is to support and improve the competencies of social workers and trainers to apply the suitable approach to young mothers by focusing on their needs. Techniques will focus on getting access to these targets, motivational strategies and cooperation with peers and families of young mothers, as they are contributors to their success or withdrawals.
Training for professionals
Training events in all partner countries in order to train other social workers, teachers and trainers to the developed intervention methods and improve their skills dealing with the target group. Each partner will train 20 trainers or social workers nationally to multiply the effect outside their own organisations.
The expectations of the participants were as various as their clients. Although they all work with young mothers, young mothers differ in backgrounds, conditions and opportunities.
The mixture of the trainers was important for the training event in order to ensure that the dissemination of project activities was as broad as possible.
To ensure that the tools and methods used in the project are of maximum benefit to the young mothers, FIB explored a number of methods that can be used in individual meetings, as well as in a group setting. During the course trainers became a team and engaged thoroughly in the activities, an example as to how the young mothers could work.
In Austria Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences was particularly welcomed. Trainers talked about the theory and conducted the tests. They were able to learn that this kind of worksheet can support the self-confidence of the young mothers.
The other method that inspired the trainer’s was the Learning Plan. This tool can be used from the first meeting until the end and helps us to recognise all the steps required at various steps in the learning process. The development of the method has the flexibility the counsellor and the young mother need for a successful process.
The participants gave a very positive feedback about the methods and tools!
Since Bimec is a training organization and not an expert in social work, they invited organizations that operate social services in the country to the local training events about the BYMBE methodology. 20 trainers and social workers attended the training events.
Bimec conducted 2 trainings with local social workers and trainers, one in Sofia and 1 in Stara Zagora. The training events were delivered by Nadejda Savova and Zvezditsa Kovatcheva. In each event 10 people participated, a total of 20 people from 8 organizations were trained. Most of the participants were from smaller towns in Bulgaria (only 3 were from Sofia): Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Vidin, Dupnitsa, Rousse.
The participants were impressed with the project content and tools. Most of the participants (except 1) found the presented materials very interesting and useful for their work and organization. There were many questions about BYMBE Orientation Pack and BYMBE Empowerment Pack, which suggests that they should be included in future training events on the BYMBE methodology.
Most of the participants filled in the feedback forms for the trainings (18 out of 20) and evaluated very highly all the aspects of the training events. More than 90% evaluated the organization of the event, the content and the way it was presented and the BYMBE methodology as very good, which was the maximum grade.
Exchange House Ireland (TRIBLI) has over 35 years’ experience providing Traveller specific, professional, front-line family support, crisis intervention, education, training, and services for children and young people in Ireland. Exchange House Ireland are lucky enough to have access to social workers, educators and youth workers from their various departments. 20 members of the team were invited to participate in the training event on the BYMBE methodology, which took place in their boardroom in Dublin. The main bulk of the participants were from the Social Work Department numbering 10 with the rest comprising of trainers /educators. The training was delivered by Lorraine O’Connor, who took part to the Train-the-trainer international event in Spain.
The Trainers stated that they were impressed with the training materials of the Set of Intervention Methods to Involve young NEET mothers. The Howard Gardner’s test for Multiple Intelligences impressed the participants as they felt that this is something they could use in their work. One Social worker expressed concerns that it was little overcomplicated, but other models to be used were presented as well, such as the VARK this can be used with younger students. The participants were happy with the fact that this aspect was considered in the Set of Intervention Methods. The SymfoS training was very well received as most of the participants had never used this tool. The fact that it was a very self-directed exercise that allowed the participants to take ownership, and enabled space for contemplation to map their own personal journey was very well received. All participants said they would use this in their work.
CESIE has organised 3 local training events addressed to professionals working with young mothers: 2 training events were addressed to a wide range of professionals at city level – educators, counsellors, social workers, youth workers, teachers, stakeholders’ staff working with young mothers; one training event was addressed to social workers at regional level and had the support of the Municipality of Cefalù.
During the local training events, CESIE presented the results of the Reports on National Education and Support Services for young mothers (international one and Italian one) and fostered the understanding of factors influencing young mothers’ likelihood of graduating and of the context in which dropping out of education occurs the most. In order to better support social workers’ engagement in dropout prevention efforts, CESIE delivered training activities based on the Set of Intervention Methods to Involve Young NEET Mothers and on the SymfoS methodology included in the BYMBE Orientation Pack.
Participants showed a great interest for the SymfoS methodology and asked for further training in the approach. They stated that they were also interested in the BYMBE resources, which they felt were innovative in their approach. The flexibility of the BYMBE Packs has been appreciated by those professionals with time and resource limitations in public social services.
In Lithuania BYMBE national training events were delivered in several groups; adult educators, social workers, psychologist and counsellors were invited as participants. During the training events the participants shared their experience on working with the young NEET mothers, the possible challenges and difficulties faced as well as positive experiences.
The ways to involve and motivate young mothers to get back to education was discussed. The practical tools which could be used in the work with young mothers were presented. The method “My World Triangle” from the Set of Intervention Methods to Involve Young NEET Mothers was judged an interesting and practical tool enabling the professional to evaluate and discuss various aspects of the person’s life. Motivational interviewing, Role models, Recognising Achievement and Tree of life were also deemed useful tools, which trainers could use in practice. The Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and new version of the test was presented. There was cooperative atmosphere during the training events and positive feedback received.
The sessions were carried out in an amiable and cooperative environment. In general, the opinion about the training was good. The participants emphasised above all the mastery of the exposed methods, the clarity of the exposition and the facility to connect with people. The most valued aspect identified by participants was the SymfoS methodology, as they highlighted the usefulness that this method can have in their day-to-work with this target group. In the SymfoS methodology they found a strategy to break communication barriers and encourage people to explain and express their situation or feelings better.
The participants also suggested including the gender perspective in all methodologies and taking into account how the impact of being a woman with family responsibilities can influence the development of the sessions.
Activities for young mothers
Pilot sessions with a group of young mothers for each involved country that are expected to re-enter education. A successful support package for young mothers developed by the partnership will be implemented in order to involve the young mothers, empower them and keep them motivated in order to avoid drop-outs. The support package will be composed of professional counseling, coaching and provision of supplement services in order to empower the young girls to make their own professional way and reduce their risk on welfare dependency.
Working with young mothers in groups is a big challenge. In Austria Frauen im Brennpunkt (FIB) garnered from the experience, that it takes quite a long time for them to trust each other. As such the trainer had to proceed cautiously.
After the explanation of the SymfoS method the young mothers seemed insecure but when they started working, they opened up. They started thinking about their past and planning their future. The young mothers questioned their situation and found appropriate solutions; especially focusing on the expectations of their environment and their own expectations of being mothers which was very interesting. During the training they were encouraged to build a construction of their life that corresponds with the conditions they live in and with the needs of their children.
After the training the social workers worked with the young mothers individually. They developed personalised plans, which are being implemented. Some have already started with a vocational training.
6 social workers from 3 organizations from 3 different towns of Bulgaria (Vidin – 30 000 inhabitants; Rousse – 150 000 inhabitants and Plovdiv – 340 000 inhabitants) carried out a lot work to reach the target group of young mothers. In total 20 young mothers piloted the BYMBE Orientation Pack and 18 of them piloted the BYMBE Empowerment Pack.
The pilot sessions went really well. The actual work with the young mothers was very productive and successful. It turned out that young women needed attention and support in developing confidence. The very fact that someone was there trying to help them and paying attention to them was rewarding and motivating. This support also gave them strength to stand up to the traditional understanding of their community about the role of the woman and the need to finish school.
The feedback from the social workers is very positive. About half of the young mothers want to be enrolled in school and in September the process or registering them for the 2018/2019 school year was already underway. This proved to be very difficult due to bureaucratic reasons. After some media coverage, including by the national television the problem was solved.
Lorraine O’Connor and Cathleen Mcdonagh, one of the Exchange House Ireland (TRIBLI) trained counsellors had agreed to meet a number of young mothers in their afterschool’s office in Oliver’s in Dublin 22. It was important to keep in mind what suited the young mothers as they all had young children and found it hard to get childcare, so pilot sessions were organised at a location that was convenient to them.
The young mothers were very engaged and really interested in what Exchange House Ireland’s trainers were doing; there were seven young mothers in total. Exchange House Ireland carried out SymfoS training from the BYMBE Orientation Pack and they all really enjoyed it, furthermore, they really understood what the method was clearly trying to achieve. There was a lot of humour on the day and trainers feel that is very important as it helps engage the young mothers.
The young mothers have all engaged in education programmes and have clear goals of what they want to achieve.
Another two young mothers have completed some motivational interviewing and trainers have worked with some of the self-confidence building exercises from the BYMBE Empowerment Pack. This helped to keep the young mothers engaged and build on their self-esteem.
CESIE has organised two kinds of pilot sessions: the first one addressed to Italian natives, the second one addressed to migrants. This organisational choice was taken in view of the peer support enhanced by the project: it was crucial to create groups of peers who could share similar backgrounds and experiences (in this sense we referred to the 4th dimension of the Diversity Wheel). The choice allowed CESIE to deliver the pilot sessions while paying greater attention to the linguistic needs of participants.
The self-reflection and peer support approaches foreseen in the BYMBE Packs placed young mothers in a situation where they had to reflect on their educational journey and life choices. The insights they gained empowered them in making better choices in life and improved their approach to learning. Activities were powerful in making young mothers understand the impact of their past choice and of a change in their usual patterns and actively engaged them in achieving the change they want from themselves and their families.
In Italy, young mothers who had completed basic education find difficulties in re-entering professional education due to the limits of the national system, which does not meet their needs at all. Nevertheless, the young mothers who took part in the pilot sessions are more engaged in their lifelong learning, showing interest in courses delivered by CESIE and its partners which could eventually lead to improvement of skills and access to different job opportunities.
In Lithuania the BYMBE Orientation Pack was piloted working with young mothers in group and individually.
The SymfoS method, suggested as part of the BYMBE methodology, gives the opportunity to “talk” by using symbols and to reflect on the current situation and circumstances of the young mother. Furthermore it enables us to understand the importance and the role of the other people in the young mother’s life. The practical tasks using symbols facilitates the conversation and gives the possibility to reveal the individual strengths of the person as well as to concentrate on the support needed in the situation. The work with symbols allows one to express their feelings and getting the feedback. the SymfoS method is easy to use and liked by participants.
The planning of the achievements related to education undertaking by using the SymfoS method allows the person to visualise the actions needed and to concentrate on the objectives.
Two pilot sessions were held in Spain in May and July. During these two sessions with young mothers, several councils from the northern region of Spain, Asturias, were covered. To carry out these pilot sessions, the trainer travelled to each of the localities involved in the trainings and carried out the activities there to facilitate the access to the trainings. At first, it was difficult to engage these young mothers, but after a few minutes they were very receptive and participative.
During the pilot sessions, several methodologies were reviewed and used, mainly: Emotional Intelligence, Multiple Intelligence from Howard Gardner, Motivational Interviews, and Individual Learning Plans from the Set of Intervention Methods to Involve Young NEET Mothers and the BYMBE Packs; furthermore, teamwork was encouraged at all stages. The general feedback was very positive and most participants concluded the training with a clear resolution to change their situation and with a plan of carrying out a specific set of actions, such as getting their driver’s license, getting information about study opportunities and taking out placement tests.
The pilot sessions carried out with these two groups of young mothers yielded very positive and encouraging results, increasing the motivation of the participants and enhancing their empowerment and decision to act.