Kinetic Youth

Youth work at Werrington YOI praised for promoting boys' understanding and awareness.

  • Impact is measured through incident monitoring and professionals' perceptions of progress
  • Of 241 incidents in the institution over six months, just two were in Kinetic sessions


Ofsted's most recent inspection of Werrington young offender institution (YOI) praised its strong youth work provision – delivered by Kinetic Youth – for the positive impact it had on vulnerable young people. Kinetic's work at the Stoke on Trent YOI also won the youth work award at the 2017 CYP Now Awards.

Gess Aird, director at Kinetic, says the organisation, which has been working at Werrington since 2013, has always been confident of its impact but deciding how to measure it took time to get right.

"Impact tends to focus on how many young people are engaged – which wasn't satisfactory for us," she explains. "We wanted to be able to say to the prison: this is the difference we make because of our intervention."

Aird says Kinetic focused on increasing young people's engagement and measuring its impact on changes in the boys' behaviour.

"If a lot of young people were accessing the services [they needed] they wouldn't be in the secure estate in the first place. That's our aim: to allow young people to develop their skills and experiences to increase their engagement," she says.

The nature of the environment housing Werrington's 128 young people is "disempowering and disabling" according to Aird.

"They are told when to eat, get up, do things – they aren't empowered to learn and grow and make changes," she says.

"That causes us massive issues because our service is about enabling young people to learn from every situation not challenge or force them into another," she adds.

Daniel Rochester, senior Kinetic youth work co-ordinator at Werrington, agrees it is not the young people themselves that pose the greatest challenge.

"I would never say it's the young people – it's about getting the right staff in a prison, not just as youth workers but individuals, to make decisions around the young people," he says.

Staff work shifts over a seven-day period, running informal education sessions covering issues such as identity and racism as well as youth clubs, library sessions and bullying reduction courses.

Aird says data is collected through on-site managers who have the responsibility of collating, analysing and presenting the information in a monthly report.

It uses two models to analyse young people's behaviour and engagement. The first, an impact flowchart, maps the progression of the young person looking at their behaviour and identifying ways to increase their positive behaviour.

"We also look at the increase in engagement so identifying how they have improved in this area. For example, they might have been sent out from education seven times last week but only sent out once this week," explains Aird.

A second model collates both qualitative and quantative information from young people, partners and youth workers.

"The qualitative information is the young person saying how they feel, what the partners and youth workers are saying about the young person's behaviour," says Aird."The quantative information might be that a young person was engaged in only one incident of violence this month whereas last month it was six times," she adds.

Aird says it is this combination of information and data that allows Kinetic to evaluate the impact on the boys after they have engaged in youth work sessions.

"It can be one sentence from a young person saying he feels more relaxed and less worried because of the work he did with Kinetic.

"It is clear evidence that Kinetic intervention works with that young person, decreases negative behaviour, increases positive behaviour and he can therefore now engage in education," explains Aird.


Aird says data alone can show the impact of Kinetic's work: in the period from July 2017 to January 2018 there were 241 incidents in the institution as opposed to two reported in Kinetic sessions.

Meanwhile, Rochester says in the five years he has spent working at Werrington YOI, he has never issued a young person with a demerit or witnessed violence in his sessions.

"Last month there were about 117 violent incidents but none in our sessions. I would say there's been only two incidents in the last nine months, which compared to the number in the prison overall shows we must be doing something right."

This article is part of CYP Now's special report on Youth Work Impact. Click here for more

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