Frequently Asked Questions
So what actually is STEP?
STEP is an opportunity for young people aged 10-18 who are having difficulties, or have specific needs, to take part in a group for 2 hours a week (Evening Groups) to work on these issues. The groups involve lots of activities - art, drama, sports, games, cooking etc that help develop life skills such as managing anger, building confidence and dealing with difficult situations. Groups run in sets of 5-6 weeks and then the theme changes around.. so the night the young person attends is likely to change each term.
We also run a Saturday Project for young people with learning disabilities, and holiday activities depending on funding. As with all groups, young people need to be referred and parental consent obtained before they can attend.
How do I get invited to STEP?
A young person must be referred (there is a form to fill in), or we accept a Common Assessment Framework form (CAF), by a professional who knows them well. This could be a teacher or social worker for example. We cannot usually accept self referrals or referrals solely from parent/carers, and we do stress that STEP is voluntary so it must be the young person's choice to attend.
What happens once I am referred?
Two STEP workers assess the form and see if STEP is suitable to meet the needs stated, and then which project would be most appropriate - Evening Groups or the Saturday Project (see 'Groups' page). You, your parent/carer and referrer will get a letter to invite you to an Access Group, which is for all new young people to find out more about how STEP works. You may have to wait a while to start depending on when you are referred, but we will get you into the next available group whenever possible.
Do you provide transport?
Yes, we have a minibus that picks up from the main areas of Swindon and we take young people home afterwards, seeing them into their door.
Due to the high volume of young people we work with, the limited time between schools finishing and groups starting and traffic conditions, it is not always possible to have a pick up point as close to where each young person lives as we'd like, but we try to make these as fair as possible. Currently we are unable to provide transport to/from the wider Swindon area such as Wroughton, Chiseldon, Highworth, Purton, Wootton Bassett etc, but young people from all these areas are welcome to attend.
Is STEP on tonight / this week??
As per your invite sent in the post before each new set of groups, we will always run each week as planned and will let you know if we have to cancel any session. Please ensure we have your up to date contact details so that we can do this.
If you have not received a group invite for a while after the last set of groups has finished, it may have been held up/lost in the post so please feel free to contact us.
On the rare occasions when groups are cancelled due to adverse weather, we will put this on the website so please check at such times for updates.
If you need to contact a STEP worker during pick-up/drop-off and group times, please use the mobile - 07531 513086.
Can siblings or friends be in the same group?
Generally, no. Young people are referred to STEP for many different reasons, which can include needing time for themselves to get away from the frictions of home and/or school. This cannot happen if family members, or other people they usually mix with, are there.
Most people when they first come to STEP do not know anyone, which can be a scary prospect. If there are several people there who already know each other, this can be quite intimidating for others and we want to make young people feel at ease and have the chance to make new friends whilst at STEP.
How long will I be at STEP?
It varies. Some young people with one or two needs could work on these in quite a short space of time and be ready to move on after 6 months, and for others it could take up to two years. The work you do here is evidenced and you get a Youth Challenge / Youth Achievement certificate so you can see the progress you are making. Young people have set targets they need to work during their time at STEP and these are regularly reviewed.
STEP is a short to medium term intervention programme where the aim is to build young people's skills, knowledge and confidence to be able to cope better in other aspects of their lives and to move onto mainstream activities such as a youth club, new hobby, peer mentoring and/or to be part of Swindon Youth Forum (www.swindonyouthforum.org.uk). We will let you know when we feel you are ready to move on so that you can prepare to finish things off and say goodbye.
If you have attended STEP for a while and no longer feel it is for you, please let us know! STEP is voluntary and the service will not be as beneficial to you if you don't want to be there. If you just stop coming, we don't get the chance to get your feed back which could help us change things for the better. You can tell your referrer to speak to us, or your parent/carer, and it may be that you have enough activities on or that a different service would be better for you - we can talk this through.
How can I find out more about STEP and keep updated?
We regularly produce a newsletter to give as much information as we can about what has been happening and what is going on next. An Annual Report is also produced and you can find us on the Charity Commission's website (registered charity number 291350).
Please check this website from time to time as well (swindonstep.org.uk) for updates, photos and news stories.
How do I give my comments / feedback?
In groups, we ask young people on a weekly basis to comment on the sessions they have taken part in and give any feed back they have. Workers keep weekly records of how sessions have gone. We ask for verbal and written feedback from parents/carers so that we can report back to our funders, so welcome any comments you may have. We also hold Open Evenings throughout the year where everyone is invited to see young people's work, for certificates to be presented and we usually have food, a raffle and music!
If you have any comments, suggestions or feedback to give on anything you've read or the service you've received, we would love to hear from you. Please use the Contact Us link above to send us an email or call the office directly.
If you would like to register a complaint, please request a Complaints Form and a copy of the Complaints Procedure giving further guidance.
As an adult, how can I help?
As a registered charity, STEP relies heavily on volunteers to support workers in group sessions delivering face-to-face youth work, and also on our Management Committee to oversee the running of STEP as a whole.
If you are interested in finding out more about either of these roles, please see the 'volunteering' section of this website and/or contact the office for a chat.
Alternatively, why not support us in your own fundraising event or raise money by being sponsored? We can provide t-shirts and set up a sponsorship page for you on JustGiving to save the hassle of collecting the money in.