Danielle Blake, youth co-ordinator of The Rise Trust in Chippenham, has been a member of the Wiltshire and Swindon Youth Work Network hosted by Wiltshire Community Foundation since its launch.

“I have found the Network a massive help and I really hope it continues because youth workers really need it. I have found it really useful for a lot of reasons – it’s great for networking and it’s also a helpful place to get information about other local services.

“In youth work you can sometimes feel quite isolated so to come together and have that mentoring between organisations and take part in conversations is really helpful. We feel like we have a voice that is taking us somewhere and I know that is really important to all of us.

“I have made lots more connections with other providers that I didn’t have before, like Wiltshire Council’s Youth Voice lead, and I have been able to share good practice and get good practice back, which has been invaluable.

“We also get regular emails that are fabulous because they have details of funding streams that might be useful to not only me but others within The Rise Trust. It led to us applying for and receiving a Wessex Water grant that we might not have heard about otherwise. That was really, really good because it helped us expand our detached youth work and support more young people.

“The Network was also a big help when we expanded into Cricklade and Purton because we now have links with Swindon and I’m a bit more aware of the services there. It made things so much easier and otherwise I would have been starting from scratch a little bit.

“I was approached by a housing association to expand our work into their area and although I knew we couldn’t do it, because of the Network I was able to signpost them to another provider nearby.

“We really want the Network to continue because we youth workers do really need to connect and know that someone is listening to how we feel – and taking that somewhere for us. It’s really worthwhile and I enjoy attending.”

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