Reflecting on Social Circle 💬

As we say goodbye to our weekly Social Circle project, we look back on the various important sessions we had with our young people and the value of this weekly project spanning several months.

Social Circle was a social space for young people to come together and discuss current events, the online world and building relationships with others. In particular, this club aimed to explore and discuss nurturing healthy relationships and how the digital age has changed and reshaped our worldviews with different topics each week.

It also aimed to be a safe environment for our members to discuss their feelings and emotions and share their views about what’s going on in our world. Our sessions intended to be informative, open and honest and most of all, fun!

Each week, our young people tackled social issues such as gaslighting, bullying, acceptance and what makes a relationship good or toxic. They discussed what makes a good friend, how to spot manipulative language and the best course of action to take when someone is being mistreated.

We are thrilled with the results of this project and we hope it will encourage our young people to take what they have learned into the future to be the change they wish to see in the world.

These final parting words from our young people showcase their hope for the future;

“I would like the world to have no bullies.”

“I hope that in the future, the world will be a more accepting place for everyone.”

“I would hope that the world could become a place where people aren’t afraid to show who they really are.”

Tickets for our other weekly Makerspace clubs are available from Eventbrite.

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.

Dropping in on a Friday Night – The improvement this fun club can have on mental health

One of the biggest social discussions throughout the pandemic is the impact it has had on the mental health of young people. With the uncertainty of changing times and ways of learning and communicating having changed drastically, this has proven to be a confusing and often difficult time for young people.

With the pressures of keeping up with education and activities despite unconventional methods, the importance of being able to relax and de-stress during free time is now more important than ever. The Friday Night Drop In Makerspace group run by Paisley YMCA is a group designed with this in mind. The club is a drop in session for young people aged between 8 -17 to simply relax, engage in leisure activity and have fun without any set goals or ongoing projects.

Youth Programme Coordinator Claire McGinley states that the impact of this time is crucial for young people to relax from the stress of our current times:

“I love this club because it is a space where you come along and you just be you. For young people, there is a lot of pressure and expectations on them and a lot attached to being a young person now, I feel.”

“But young people need time to relax and just chill out, which is why we created that specific space with no agenda, with no particular goals in mind because it depends on the night how the young people feel. Do they to play an RPG, do they want to just talk about something, tell jokes, do some drawing? There’s value in just being and chilling out. We have a pretty packed schedule; we offer a range of clubs and skills and I think it’s important we also offer a space that says ‘just be’.”

The Friday Night Drop In sessions offer a valuable and understated free space for young people to simply have fun, which is every bit as crucial as developing skills and taking place in science quizzes. For more information about the Friday Night Drop In and how to get your tickets, please check the Paisley YMCA Makerspace List.