Career Mode is an exciting education and employment initiative from Herts Sports Partnership (HSP) aimed at preventing and reducing youth offending through gamification of participation and community activation in sport.
Put simply; we recruit disadvantaged young people, link them up with one of our Agents, set some goals both short and long term, support them to get more active, open doors for their community activation, reward them for their progress and work towards education and/or employment.
A fresh approach has been taken, focusing on what young people want and are currently engaging with. Getting any young person interested in volunteering isn’t an easy sell, so we have provided a concept they will be attracted to and believe in from the off. The ‘V’ word is never mentioned because we present them with ‘Community Activation’; 5 roles that represent young people’s strengths and ambitions. Whilst other people (the community) benefit, essentially this is a chance for participants to develop their experience and skills as they look to set themselves apart from their peers.
Our target audience is young people (14-21) within or on the cusp of the Youth Justice System and vulnerable to crime. There is no ‘referral’ per se; instead we work with key partners who ‘nominate’ young people whom they believe could truly benefit from Career Mode. So, our first conversations with participants are because we think they are special and with the right support and opportunities, could achieve some amazing things.
Key nomination partners:
- Herts Constabulary
- YC Herts
- Youth Strategy Partnerships
- Herts County Council
The concept of the project is built around gaming. The very name Career Mode is a nod to computer games and the option of long-term play, overcoming challenges to unlock levels and achievements. There’s many reasons young people love computer games so much and the most popular have gamification at the heart.
This is the “what’s in it for me?” part. Everything is about earning points, that go onto our leader-board.
- Participation = 5 points
Any sport, physical activity or dance earns points on our leader board.
- Community Activation = 10 points
Any work or experience that benefits others as well as contributes to their self-development earns more points on the leader board.
- Rewards = 15 points
Points can unlock all kinds of rewards such as training, qualification, experiences and kit. They choose what would benefit them most. Much of our funding has been set aside to support young people with rewards.
Crucial to sustained engagement is the role of our Agents. We have robustly recruited positive professional role models predominantly from BAME backgrounds. This was stressed as somewhat missing for many young people the police are working with. Essentially our Agents are able to relate with young people, build rapport easily, whilst pushing them to be positive and engage in the project. Agents sign off points from young people and are in digital communication weekly.
Our leader-board is posted every Friday on the Instagram page. This platform has been designed to meet young people on their level. The language represents their language. We are passionate about young people being equitable partners in the project. This has facilitated interaction and engagement with young people around Hertfordshire.
Everything you see of Career Mode has been designed by young people. We asked students at the University of Hertfordshire to design brand concepts. These were taken to a local college where sports students gave us feedback and ultimately chose the final brand.
The small number of young people who have entered the project since the pilot start in February 2020 are still engaging with positive activities and our Agents. As a minimum aim, we look to support participants to develop lifestyle habits of physical activity and sport. Any reward (training and qualification) is monumental as all have been nominated due being at some form of disadvantage.
The challenge ahead is scaling up and taking Career Mode to the next level. We are receiving consistent nominations since opening up to more partner nominations. More Agents are to be recruited to meet demand. The hope is to have an App that brings all aspects of the project to one smooth-functioning platform, whilst opening up for more young people to access.
The social media is also building up a following from local young people and long-term HSP aim to utilise this to provide them with key information and local opportunities. Rather than pay to advertise in places young people are unlikely to engage with, we aim to meet them where they are interacting.
A webinar for key partners was recently held and the feedback was very positive:
‘I think the idea of the Gamification is a really good way of looking at things. I am really impressed with this, this is something they need to implement in School. Changing the approach and the way you speak and work with young people is brilliant. Unless you go with the times it won't work. It’s impossible to get my child to listen when he’s on the Xbox or my daughter on TikTok, so again using these platforms is genius. Good work lads. I will make sure I send out this presentation to Community safety when you send it.’
Domestic Abuse Assistant, Stevenage Borough Council
‘I love the change in the language you are using with the young people. Often when signposting, it does sound very negative and this definitely isn’t. Love the gaming idea and the look of the app so hopefully that goes ahead. I think they would definitely be engaged.’
SENDCo, Chessbrook ESC
‘Thank you all. A lot of information to take back to my team- really useful and really like the programme design!’
IAG WRL Team Leader – St Albans & Dacorum, YC Hertfordshire
‘Thanks for answering question, really helpful. Working within Preparing for Adulthood at HCC, this is something great to hear about.’
SEN Project Manager, Hertfordshire County Council
If you have any questions about Career Mode, feel free to get in touch.
Josh Spavins | email@example.com | 07592 943831