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January 7th, 2016 by Suzanne Sweeney

This was the title for our annual event in November which focused on how we can best support young people by applying the lessons learned and reflections made within the Windmills paper “Shaping Our Future.”

Over fifty engaged and like-minded individuals attended the event, taking part in a range of activities to explore the quality of their provision for young people, how they could improve this further and the opportunity to hear from others about their best practice, and how this could be applied.

Please follow this link to download your own copy: Shaping Young People

The paper identifies four critical factors for success when supporting young people.

  • Realising personal strengths – inspiring young people to discover create and realise their full potential
  • Supporting the whole person – enabling young people to be helped over time by someone who cares
  • Thinking outside the box – creating fresh opportunities for young people to widen their perspectives and explore different possibilities
  • Building the right foundations – supporting young people to fulfil their aspirations in an authentic and meaningful environment

The event highlighted that a huge amount of effort and creativity is happening to enable young people to think outside the box (The Square) and to support the whole person (The Circle.) There are a lot of initiatives under way.  In contrast there appeared to be too little activity that was personalised and meaningful for the young person to enable them to unpack the learning and experiences they encounter (The Star.) This was further hampered by organisational challenges where systems and processes (and in some cases people) inhibit and obstruct the culture and vision of meaningful support for young people (The Triangle)


The efforts made by many working on provision within the square and circle areas can lead to good work but which could often be perceived as short term and isolated in its impact. Much was discussed about the absence of joined up initiatives and thinking (the glue the binds these initiatives) and funding mechanisms sometimes structured in such a way to further obstruct best practice.


Further reflections from the activities on the day highlighted overwhelmingly the importance of a “significant other”. Somebody who showed the way/encouraged/supported/provided a safety net when failure happened/someone who cared and gave of themselves. As providers, how do we ensure that provision for young people enables the development of quality positive relationships?


The Windmills vision for “Shaping Our Future,” is to creatively collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations to help “shape” a future generation of young people to realise their potential and make their unique difference in life. If you would like to be part of this then get in touch with Suzanne on 01704 874903 to talk further.




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