Play Gloucestershire’s first European adventure

Written by Katie Spencer-Jefferies; Play Gloucestershire, UK

This has been our first Erasmus+ project so we have nothing to compare it with only our perception of what a European Partnership could be.  I feel that as a group we have missed out on much of the interpersonal and social connections that would have happened had we been able to meet in person, learn about each other and the work that is done within each other’s organisations. However, the members of the group are so professional and kind-hearted that, though disappointing to do meetings and training online instead of in person, there has been a great working relationship and amazing partnership work.

In the UK we have been fortunate that government restrictions have not hindered our face-to-face delivery of the training or the young people’s participation in the placement element. As we work outside, we have been able to deliver both training and offer placements to the group of PAClife volunteers. Learning what the young people’s strengths have been has meant that we have been able to signpost them towards activities that best suit them; the majority have volunteered alongside our Play Sessions, however some have done additional volunteering like supporting us in making promotional videos.

It has been amazing to see the difference in the young people from before the PAClife training to their time on placement. It was even better to hear in their own words at their graduation how being a part of the PAClife training has supported them, boosted their confidence and what they have been doing since that they would never have dreamed of doing before. The graduation was a great milestone event for them to celebrate their achievements together.

We will look at using elements of the PAClife training program in future training that we deliver.

PAClife: Sum-up and sustainability

Written by Isabella Madsen, MELLEMFOLKELIGT SAMVIRKE

Sustainability trough strong partnerships

How do we create sustainable activities that lasts after the project ends? This is one of the essential questions in the PAClife project. Now the project is coming to a close, and how the activities live on depends (among other things) on how we started.

The main goal in Denmark were to create a sustainable and meaningful activity that could possibility last after end project. Therefore, we chose to partner up with a school in one of the local areas (Esbjerg) where we work. The idea was to qualify both a teacher and a group of older school kids in the PAClife methods. The methods should be tools for facilitating games for younger kids at the school. In that way the school got a team of young people that would volunteer for creating a better experience for the youngest children. We made sure that the teachers were trained in the methods as well to keep the young people active after the formal project end.

To create a cohesive process, we made a partnership with an NGO called GAME. The purpose was first to train the young people in voluntary work in their school yard and later inspire them to do voluntary work in their community. GAME makes voluntary work for kids through sport. Hopefully PAClife is a steppingstone for some of the young people to engage in more voluntary work after they finish primary school.

Social sustainability in youth engaging projects is crucial for the young people’s motivation to participate in other projects further on. Therefore, we have responsibility as youth-organizations to ensure that we have a strong framework especially after our projects are done.

PAClife journey: Our project in Denmark

Written by Isabella Madsen, MELLEMFOLKELIGT SAMVIRKE

Youth engagement in primary school

In a Danish school yard, eighteen young people are standing ready. There is a break between classes, and they are preparing an activity for the younger kids. Every day they facilitate games as football, hide and seek and more. A volunteer project they have kept running since they participated in the PAClife training sessions in March.

During the training course the young people were taught how to facilitate activities for kids in safe environments with PAClife exercises and ongoing reflection. Through the sessions we discussed collaboration, teamwork, inclusion, leadership and diversity. They improved their existing skills or developed new competences to facilitate activities for the younger kids. After the trainings the group should make a voluntary placement in the school yard.
It wasn’t just easy – many of the young people found it difficult to manage the kids. But the exercise also revealed how much preparation it takes to facilitate games for others. It becomes a part of their journey and learnings.

In Denmark the voluntary placement was centered around the peer-to-peer method. Many of the young people remembered the play patrol from their childhood and wanted to recreate the experience. In their experience the play patrol became role models for the younger kids in the school. Hopefully it will inspire the smaller kids to one day become a part of the play patrol themselves – and thereby give back to the next generation.  

PAClife. What’s happened so far?

By The University of Gloucestershire

PAClife aims to improve the resilience of disadvantaged young people, including asylum seekers and refugees, via the medium of play and physical and cultural activities.

Who has been involved in the development of PAClife?
The project, which started in 2020, utilises the collective skills of partners involved in play and youth work from five European countries.

In a UK context, Play Gloucestershire has provided valuable knowledge and skills around play work. The University of Gloucestershire has been responsible for the overall direction and management of the project.

How did we bring those skills together, to develop a programme of play, physical and cultural activities, suitable for use in a range of cross-European settings that work with young people?
We knew that the partner agencies involved in play and youth work would be able to provide real-world examples of activities to use with the target group. The university team applied a methodology proven to build resilience in young people to bring together a coherent and relevant set of activities.

How did you do this?
We explored research in this area and consulted with the project partners. We applied the positive youth development (PYD) methodology and the related 5Cs framework which has been shown to be effective in developing resilience through focusing on and building young people’s personal strengths.

What was your next step?
Partners identified activities that were relevant to the project aims and methodology. Our Hungarian partner, the Rogers Foundation for Person-Centred Education, led on coordinating these via discussions with the partners. The final set of activities were agreed upon collectively by the PAClife partnership.

Were there any difficulties encountered?
Yes! Soon after the PAClife project started the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in all countries involved. This meant that rather than travel to meetings in each others’ countries to discuss work, meetings (and later training events)  were conducted online.

Unfortunately, one partner agency had to withdraw from the project. We were quickly able to identify another partner agency from the same country who were able to contribute to PAClife.

What did you do with the activities once you had collated them?
There were two tasks.

  1. We matched the activities to the PYD methodology and its 5Cs framework.
  2. We piloted the activities via a series of online workshops with participants from all five countries to make sure they were relevant and appropriate.

Why did you need to match the activities?
We needed to ensure that the activities were aligned with the PYD 5Cs framework in order to build resilience in young people, otherwise it would just be a collection of activities without any meaningful direction. The 5Cs are:

  1. Competence
  2. Confidence
  3. Connection
  4. Character
  5. Caring

We considered each activity in turn and matched them with each ‘C’. This helps people working with young people to focus on an area to develop with young people and to select activities that are relevant to them.

What happened at the workshops and afterwards?
The piloting workshops took place online in May 2021 to explore what worked well and what worked less well.

We edited and proofread the training programme and associated materials to ensure consistency, before an additional pilot session took place including organisations who were not part of the PAClife consortium.

In a UK context, this involved workers from Play Gloucestershire who had previously not been involved in the project, and a further training session with staff from two local organisations involved in work with young people, Move More and Active Gloucestershire.

We took notes at these sessions, and with those collected by our European colleagues, agreed a final draft of the PAClife programme.

So what happens now?
We have a meeting in Copenhagen in May to officially ‘sign off’ the programme – then all partners are expected to hold dissemination events, inviting appropriate stakeholders who are involved in play work and physical and cultural activities.

Where can I find out more?
From the PAClife website. Relevant contact details can be found there. Especially more about the Training Programme and the newly published Training Guide – PAClife Methods, Activities and Good Practice

You can also attend our information and networking event on June 8th at the Oxstalls Campus, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, UK.

Lifelong learning and life skills – an introduction to PAClife at an Italian social café

Written by Alice Schirosa, CESIE

“Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society. According to recent studies, neets often lack easy access to the cultural experiences they need, which has a strong impact on their personal and professional lives. The development of key competences in a lifelong learning perspective, from early childhood to adulthood is therefore necessary, and can strengthen the awareness of personal identity and cultural heritage and the relationship with the local community”.

Alice Schirosa, CESIE introduces PAClife live to viewers on Facebook (at minute 42)

Video link:

Outdoor Workshop Delivering Positive Youth Development

Written by Paul Hopkins, UoG

As part of the UK initiative, on September 15th 2021, Play Rangers from Play Gloucestershire took part in an open-air workshop by Kelly Conibere and Paul Hopkins from the University of Gloucestershire and Play Gloucestershire Team Leader Katie Spencer-Jefferies, to explore play activities developed by the PAClife consortium.

PYD discussions in a fab outdoor workshop space at Play Gloucestershire

The play activities use a methodology called Positive Youth Development – or PYD; PYD is used to develop a young person’s strengths, concentrating on what they are good at and in doing so helps to  build mental resilience.  

After an introduction to PYD, exploring and discussing PYD’s 5Cs framework in relation to play work (building Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character & Caring), the play rangers then had the chance to take part in play activities and gauge their usefulness in relation to the work that they do and the young people they work with  – and to make suggestions as to how activities might be enhanced and ideas for further use.  

  • The activities explored included: 
    • Expectation Tree – an introductory exercise exploring training expectations  
    • Ball of Steve – an activity that considers how we relate to and co-operate with others  
    • Effective Cooperation –  leadership and working together to provide solutions 
    • Encounter of Cultures – considering conflict resolution skills; examining problems from multiple perspectives; developing an understanding of communication and cultural barriers 
    • Leading in Pairs –  reflecting on leadership skills and attitudes; exploring leading and being led.  
    • Privilege Walk –  exploring what privilege is and how it works in society; looking at social and civic competences 
    • Trust Game; rocking blankets – appreciation of the importance of feeling empowered as a volunteer working with children and youth; an understanding of the importance of having supportive peers 
Charley, feeling relaxed and supported by her team mates during the Trust Game

The emphasis was very much on having fun whilst taking part in the activities – with serious consideration of  each ‘C’ of the 5Cs of PYD each activity is aligned with. Play ranger participants responded enthusiastically to the interactive workshop: 

‘There are some brilliant activities in there, especially as group bonding exercises. I will use them in future training and any ‘ice breaking’ moments when required.’  

‘…it was great. I came away with plenty of ideas and confidence.’ 

Following the workshop, the play rangers will go into their working settings to cascade the training course  and activities to the young people they work with, with the intention that the young people  will also use the activities and participate in placements in a number of community settings including sports, dance, drama and play settings, while also helping to signpost young people to further opportunities.  

For further information on the PAClife initiative please contact: 

Colin Baker –  

Kelly Conibere –  

Paul Hopkins –  

Pip Levett – 

Katie Spencer-Jefferies – 

PAClife Training of Trainers: getting ready for the piloting of the course!

Written by Alice Schirosa, CESIE

Photo by Canva Studio from Pexels

One of the Paclife project’s main goals is to build resilience among disadvantaged and migrant young people and to support them through the development and piloting of a physical and cultural activity programme designed to help them acquire essential life skills in order to cope with and adapt to new situations and improve their life, and those of their family, friends and community.

The three-day training of trainers in the field of education designed by the PAClife partnership ended last week, bringing together various participants with relevant background from all partner countries.

The training took place on 19th May and on 7th and 14th June and was entirely held online due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Nevertheless, it has represented a paramount opportunity to introduce the trainers to the partnership and introduce them to the PAClife methodology.

In order to make young people more aware of their potentialities and help them to grow as active and responsible citizens, PAClife delivered the Physical and Cultural Activity Training Programme which has been based on the development of the 5 competences (5 Cs) identified within the framework of the Positive Youth Development (PYD), namely “competence, confidence, connection, character, & caring”.

Far from being a limit to participants’ full engagement, the online delivery of the training course not only provided them with all the essential information and advice on how to implement the activities with this specific target group, taking into account the best ways to enhance the active participation of disadvantaged youth, but also enabled them to have a first-hand experience of the flexibility of the training activities suggested, putting themselves in the shoes of their target group and, therefore, gaining a better understanding of the programme and its future positive effects on youth.

Now participants are getting ready to seize the opportunity to pilot locally the PAClife methodology with disadvantaged youth and to later involve and support themin undertaking volunteering opportunities with other children in their local community, thus helping young people develop social, cultural and emotional attachments with their environments and, therefore, promoting their positive adaptation and social cohesion. The course provided youth workers with a training tool to empower young people and help them acquire and develop life skills which will build their resilience, and improve their inclusion in society and their employability. 

Keep following us to discover the next stages of this project or contact to receive more information about the opportunity to get involved in our training activities!

Working on potential and self-esteem to support active and responsible citizenship

Written by Alice Schirosa, CESIE

2020 has been a unique year for everybody, especially for young people.  Thousands of girls and boys have had to adapt to the great changes that have affected their lives and which have represented a source of considerable stress. However, 2021 is just around the corner, along with many opportunities and the desire to start over, beginning from themselves.

In this context, the partnership of the Paclife project aims to respond to a number of important questions that concern young people, especially the most disadvantaged ones. The most important of them is probably the following: what are the resources that a young person has and which of these can promote their positive development?

In order to meet the need to make young people more aware of their potentialities and to increase their self-esteem so as to become active and responsible citizens, Paclife has prepared a Program of Physical and Cultural Activities based on the development of the five basic skills (5 Cs) identified within the framework of the Positive Youth Development (PYD), namely “competence, confidence, connection, character, & caring“. The development of such skills forms the basis of the training programme which will be tested in 2021 with youth workers and which will take place in the United Kingdom.

The course aims to provide youth workers with a training….

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Resilience and adaptation: how can we help young people acquire these skills?

Written by Alice Schirosa, CESIE

The growing path youth have to walk through has never been easy for anybody: the world around them changes quickly and their inner world is changing fast, too! Furthermore, some of them are also facing some cultural and social issues and this claims for an action to strengthen their resilience to help them growing as active, responsible and happy citizens.

On February 3rd and 4th, during the kick off meeting of PAClife project (co-funded by Erasmus+ programme), project partners have first met in Cheltenham (UK) to define the guidelines and the main objective the project aims to achieve in the next two years: building resilience among low-skilled and low-qualified migrant and disadvantaged young people so as to help them adapting to new and possibly hard situations. Hence, the development of some life skills has been regarded as fundamental to gain independence and face with positivity the challenges young people face every day in their personal growth path.

To read more you can view the original article here: