What place does Gaslighting have in toxic relationships? Social Circle debates 💬

As our Tuesday night Social Circle sessions continue, we have introduced specific topics concerning relationships and interaction for our young people to discuss and debate with the help of our youth workers.

This week’s session was a discussion between our youth workers and young people on the definition and examples of gaslighting, and how it can indicate a toxic or abusive relationship.

Our youth workers defined gaslighting as a means to manipulate someone into questioning their own reality. It was a term many of our young people were unfamiliar with but learned through giving examples of relationships in which someone could manipulate or twist another person’s words to make them believe what they want them to believe.

One of the most valuable parts of the session came from a word/phrases game, in which a youth worker would read a phrase aloud and the young people would debate on whether the phrase counted as an example of gaslighting.

When prompted with the phrase “What you’re joking about is upsetting me. I’m not okay with it,” our young people stated: “I would say you’re not gaslighting… the way you were saying it sounds like you’re just trying to have a conversation with someone. Like if you sat someone down and tried to give them your feelings in a way to help yourself and them. If someone was joking about something personal and kept going on about it, you would end up being upset and if you react calmly with that, I don’t think it’s gaslighting.”

In response to the phrase “Take a joke!”, they responded, “Not really, because if you only said it once, that could be just you getting defensive. I think a lot of people do this, when they realise they’re in the wrong they start instead of apologising. I think especially if you’re male, then you might start getting defensive instead of trying to open up and say you’re sorry.”

By contrast, our young people said of the phrase “You’re too sensitive!”,: “I think it is gaslighting … See if you say to someone they’re too sensitive but you mean it in a way of trying to help them out, if someone is dealing with something and getting upset a lot and you say to them they’re too sensitive to try to help them, then I guess in that sense it’s not. But see if you say it over and over again, then I get that it can be then. That would qualify.”

Social Circle highlights the importance of having these conversations with young people, as their contributions are both insightful and informative, leading to them having just as much to teach as they do to learn. It also highlights these terms and dynamics so young people can identify them easily, leading them to recognise what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy.

Tickets for next week’s Social Circle are available from Eventbrite.

The New Dimension to Social Circle

During the pandemic in accordance with government guidelines, many of our clubs were moved to online zoom calls every week as opposed to physically interacting in the space. In spite of this and the challenges it posed, Paisley YMCA were committed to giving their young people a space with our youth workers to enjoy club activity and conversation that many of them look forward to each week through the use of technology.

However, most of our club activity has now moved back to being able to physically meet and interact in the space and it has marked a new phase for one of our most recent club projects.

Social Circle is a Makerspace club launched by Paisley YMCA whilst in lockdown, with it beginning in online zoom sessions similar to the other clubs. Social Circle is devised as a space for young people to come together and discuss important social issues, the online world and building healthy relationships with others. This project was made possible through funding from the Early Action Systems Change Initiative.

With government restrictions now allowing our Makerspace clubs to once again meet in person, this has brought out a new dimension to Social Circle. YMCA Youth Worker Kieran McPhail states:

“As Social Circle came to a close with the online sessions and opened up to in person sessions, we’ve seen much more engaged and conversation driven sessions with lots of ideas, views and even some debate arising throughout.”

Kieran goes on to explain what the young people at Social Circle have been having debates about:

“The in person sessions have had a focus on friendships and how to recognise signs coercive control – or as we have been calling them; good and bad vibes between friends and what those signs are or could mean. There’s a lot of focus being given to the context of what’s being said and done during the sessions.

“The young people are very keen to discuss and dig into the “what, why and how” of the issue of coercive control and healthy relationships!”

Kieran also states the key differences the physical presence has brought to Social Circle compared to its online origins and the value of this club as a space for our young people:

The online sessions were a good platform, don’t get me wrong, a good place to talk and discuss with a heavy focus on just that, talking and discussion. These were very valuable and good sessions. But the in person sessions have a lot of energy and allows for a bit of light with games to break up and ease the heavier topics of discussion.

“I think Social Circle is a place to come and discuss the idea of how a healthy relationship should look and be as well as a space to discuss topics that are affecting the young people, such as the climate crisis, social crisis, anything the young people feel strongly about that they will have to confront as they step into the world as adults or even right now.

“These sessions would be incredibly valuable to keep continuing with, as these topics of discussion do not have enough young voices being heard despite it being young people who will have to pick up the pieces and stand up to and against the issues they want to speak out about and discuss.”

Tickets for Social Circle and all of our other clubs during the week are available from Eventbrite!

A Interactive Day of Fun with SoundPlay Projects! 📟

Our Summer of Fun project comes to an end with another collaboration from SoundPlay Projects as part of Conversations with Installations!

Partnering with Soundplay Projects, last week saw the display of a digital mural at Paisley YMCA for the general public to interact with and experience the science and technology of creating it. This is one of the many projects from Soundplay that integrates art and sound with moving pictures to create an interactive experience.

Founder of Soundplay Projects and Musician, Bal Cooke states, “We are really happy with the results – we weren’t quite sure how people would react to something like this out on the high street but the reaction has been so positive, across all age groups too.”

It shows the impact of combining the technology with natural artistic creativity in order to inspire our young people and get them thinking about the impact they could make. Soundplay Projects and Paisley YMCA emphasise the importance of accommodating new audiences and inclusivity, especially young people to encourage them to begin thinking about the way these methods can be used, as Cooke explains;

“I think young people like seeing technology used in unexpected ways like this – combining elements like sensors, sound and digital visuals. It can really fire the imagination and I hope it inspires young people to think about creating their own digital work.”

For more information regarding Soundplay Projects, please check out their website for details.

Partnering With SoundPlay Projects for a Spaced Out experience! 😊

Throughout our Summer of Fun project this year, we have organised many new activities and ways for our young people to spend their summer with Paisley YMCA, such as our Summer Gaming Cafes and our VR training projects in various schools and community centres throughout the Paisley area.

Many of these projects also featured collaborations with other youth organisations, who are just as invested in creating a fun and educational environment for Paisley’s youth as we are. One example of this was through our partnering with SoundPlay Projects to run two separate workshops on the 4th and 5th August. These projects gave our young people the chance to combine their scientific side with their musical creativity to create their own imaginative works.

Founder of Soundplay Projects and Musician, Bal Cooke explains, “These workshops combined low-tech ways of sound making (using ping pong balls, paper cups and elastic bands) with high tech video manipulation of the clips we filmed. It was brilliant to see what the young people came up with, creating sounds and objects that we’d never have thought of. “

These projects utilise the technology provided by youth organisations to encourage young people to develop new skills and ideas that will go on the serve them later in life. As Cooke explains:

“I think these kind of projects can open up creative possibilities in digital technology, beyond the world of games, smartphones, social media, etc. All those platforms are totally valid but are so much part of young people’s lives already.

“We are keen on the idea of playing with technology to create something unique and think that really can inspire others to try new things or even just to look at technology in a different way.”

Collaborative projects between youth groups such as this allow for a greater expansion of creative projects to engage our young people and working together allowed us to really bring this project to life. Cooke states:

“Paisley YMCA bring so many benefits; they have great facilities and staff, as well as brilliant connections with the community. They also share our ethos that projects should be driven by the young people rather than try and impose stuff on them. We hope to work with them again soon!”

Likewise, we are also extremely thankful to Soundplay Projects for this collaboration and we’re very excited to see what we can do next!

For more information regarding Soundplay Projects, please check out their website for details.

Bringing Virtual Reality to Paisley! 🎧

Our adventures with VR continue throughout our Summer of Fun programme!

Throughout the summer, we have been setting up our young people to experience the growing technology of virtual reality headsets. Our youth workers work with our young people to set up and explain how to use the VR headsets, enabling them to understand and experiment with the technology.

In local Paisley schools and community centres, both the worlds of gaming and virtual technology are open for our young people to explore. Youth Worker Kieran McPhail states that the project has struck a cord with Paisley’s young community:

“I think the VR experiences have went well and were well received and enjoyed by the young people who came along. The young people really took to VR really well and a lot of them kept coming back for more!”

He states that the VR offers young people the experience working with the new technology and allows them to get to know it on their own terms;

“I think VR offers young people really a window into something they may not have the chance to experience. Walking along the Grand Canyon in VR, taking in the sight of the Northern Lights in a dimly cabin in Norway or just sitting in a nice cosy room with your friends who are also in VR in their own homes.

“VR has so much to offer especially when it comes to seeing new sights and allowing people to connect and interact without staring at a flat screen. It also allows them to play some video games and -from personal experience- burn a lot of energy and get some exercise while still enjoying some gaming!”

We’re thrilled with the results our VR project has brought and we hope to see its success continue in the future!

Tickets for our Summer of Fun projects are available on Eventbrite.

Our Summer of Fun continues with our Healthy Relationships project! 😊

Our Summer of Fun continues with our healthy relationships project! This is a project we have been building over the past several months with the intention of showcasing the talent and inner workings of our young people as they show us what they believe about nurturing bonds with others.

This project has been about exploring healthy relationships and what makes a relationship fulfilling and equal for our young people. Our weekly club Social Circle explores this in great detail, with our young people having important discussions through both talking about their feelings and expressing themselves through arts and crafts at the Tannahill community centre.

Our young people’s projects and discussions help to nurture a healthy and productive way of letting them express their feelings and build upon their relationships with each other and themselves. It is an invaluable teaching method that will serve them hugely later in life, showing that social development is equally as important as learning subjects and solving problems. We are so excited for the other projects we have coming up and we have been thrilled at the support and enthusiasm our Summer of Fun has received!

Tickets for Social Circle and other Summer of Fun projects are available on Eventbrite.