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Jersey Chamber of Commerce

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Category: States of Jersey

Multilingual Youth Project Success

Apr 06, 2023

• Multilingual Youth Project pilot launched in 2022, following amendment to 2020-2023 Government Plan by Deputy Inna Gardiner

• Project provides weekly meetings, events, and engagement for young people in the Polish, Portuguese and Romanian communities

• Research to dates finds significant barriers facing multilingual children and young people

A specialist youth project aimed at engaging and supporting children and young people in Jersey has welcomed over 250 people since its first session in September. 

The Multilingual Youth Project (MYP) is part of Jersey Youth Service and is being supported by two full-time and five sessional staff who speak a range of languages, including Portuguese, Polish and Romanian. 

Like many other youth service projects and clubs, the MYP offers children and young people an opportunity to make new friends, learn about themselves and their world, and develop new skills. 

Attendees speak a range of languages, including Portuguese, Polish and Romanian.

Alongside the weekly meetings, MYP staff have worked with young people, schools, charities and faith groups, and health organisations to identify some of the challenges faced by multi-lingual young people. 

Interviews, workshops, and focus groups with 164 representatives of these groups found that:

• Multilingual young people are more likely to grow up in cramped housing which affects their privacy and can provide an unstable environment 

• Multilingual young people are often required to provide translation for their families, including in educational, medical, and legal settings

• Initial evidence suggests that multilingual children and young people are less likely to access health services (including Brook and the YES project) and are less likely to take part in extra-curricular activities.

Those surveyed also identified the benefits of being a multilingual young person in Jersey. These include having access to multiple cultures, having a sense of community, being able to make friends, and having a unique way of thinking.

In response to this research, the MYP has already launched additional support. This includes holding dedicated sessions at the YES project to encourage more young people to access mental health and wellbeing support. The MYP also held a summer activity week which took place in July of 2022 for 18 young people.

This year, the MYP will introduce a senior youth club, for young people in Years 9 to 13; develop support for multilingual young people who are Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET); and continue working with community groups to understand the challenges facing multilingual young people and their families. The service will also recruit more multi-lingual workers to broaden the support available at weekly sessions. 

The pilot was funded through the Government Plan 2020-2023 to increase engagement from children and young people who speak multiple languages. Due to the success of the pilot project, future financial resources have been agreed to allow this area of work to become embedded in practice.

Senior Youth Worker, David Brás, said: “Six months after our first weekly youth club session, the Multilingual Youth Project has continued to see good engagement from children and young people: 267 people have attended since September. 

“These numbers also show that this service is meeting a need: of the 60 children and young people who attend regularly, 42 of them have never attended a Jersey Youth Service project before. This means they were missing out on all the benefits and opportunities youth work can offer.

“Alongside this, the work we are doing with young people and their communities is highlighting the other ways we can provide more support, both within JYS, and beyond.”

Assistant Minister for Children and Education, Connétable Richard Vibert, said: “I’m thrilled that the pilot has been such a success.

“The Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Inna Gardiner, originally proposed a multi-lingual youth service provision back in 2019 because she saw children and young people who speak multiple languages faced extra barriers. 

“The research the team has done so far has identified some of these barriers, by speaking to young people themselves, as well as the communities around them. I’d like to thank the Multilingual Youth Project Team: they have led this project with passion and commitment that is having a real impact on children and young people.”

Government of Jersey News Release

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