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PEER SUPPORT

We know that peer support is important within wellbeing and found that the main barriers to this happening were people not knowing how to communicate and listen. The below activities focus on ways to listen and share.

TIN CAN TELEPHONES

Aim: To enable young people to listen and have confidence to ask people to repeat information they don’t understand. To highlight that listening isn’t as simple as we tend to think.

Overview:
This is a fun activity that practically gets young people to focus on listening to others but also helps the young people to explore ways of asking for more information or for information to be repeated. It involves making traditional tin can telephones out of string and tin cans.

Instructions:

  1. Get a piece of string and two empty cans
  2. Punch a hole at the bottom of each can just small enough for string to fit through.
  3. Pass the string through the hole and into the bottom of one can or cup. Make sure the string is long enough to allow a good distance between the cans when stretched out.
  4. Tie a knot in the end of the string that is inside the cup and repeat with the other cup
  5. Place the open end of one can over your ear and have your partner speak into the open end of the other can.
  6. Ask the young people to take turn in giving instructions such as “wave to me”, “Jump up and down”. Allow the instructions to get more complicated and detailed.
  7. Discuss with the group the methods or tactics that worked to listen or ask for clearer instructions

 

A PROBLEM SHARED…

Aim: To introduce the themes of sharing and talking.

Overview:
An important element of improving young people’s wellbeing is ensuring that they are able to support each other, and demonstrating that this kind of support can be very beneficial. The activity introduces a simple peer support model and illustrates its benefits. These activities are designed to break down some of the barriers that discourage people from sharing.

Instructions:

  1. Write down the phrase, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ on flip chart paper
  2. Ask the group what they think the phrase means, and whether they agree with it
  3. Split the group into smaller groups and ask them to discuss whether there are any similar sayings in their own languages that mean the same thing. (Get them to write these down or note their discussions on flip chart paper)
  4. Ask the groups to feed back as a big group
  5. Facilitate a discussion around the barriers to sharing, and ask the young people to think about how to overcome these
  6. Collect all the ideas and create a list of ‘ways to share’ that all the young people in the group can recognise so that they can go on to support each other when necessary

 

ACTIVE LISTENING

Aim: To enable young people to understand the importance and value of listening

Overview:
This exercise is a fun and interactive way to get the group to listen to what each other is saying and understand that in order to listen we have to use more than just our ears

Instructions:

  1. Tell the group that they are going to play a memory game and split them into smaller groups
  2. For this activity, the facilitator lists a set of words that the young people have to remember and write out afterwards
  3. Make sure the words on the list are related to each other in some way (e.g. types of food, clothing, animals etc), but also include a couple of completely unconnected, random words
  4. Ask the young people to focus on their feet whilst you read out the list
  5. Once you have read out the list ask them in their groups to write down as many words as they remember
  6. Ask the groups to feed back
  7. Highlight the words that were missed and also if these were the random words or not (you will notice that people find is easy to remember the words that are related, but not the ones that are random. People will also imagine words on the list that didn’t appear (e.g., assuming that they heard the word, ‘cat’ just because it fits in the category).
  8. Highlight to the group that although people think they are good at listening, often they won’t remember information, or they will imagine something was said when it wasn’t.
  9. Relate this to conversations with friends, and talk about the possible consequences of this.

 

LISTENING WELL

Aim: To support young people in learning about and practising active listening skills with peers

Overview:

Having introduced the idea of listening, this activity will allow your group to learn about specific active listening skills, both those that they already know about (e.g. good body language) and those that they may not have heard of before (e.g. empathy, open questioning) They will also have the chance to practise using some of these, and find out how it feels to have someone listening actively to you.

If you would like to brush up on your own active listening skills before facilitating a workshop around them for young people, you can find out more here at the Samaritans website.

Instructions:

  1. Ask the group to create 2 lists: 1) a list of skills or traits they think a ‘good listener’ has; and  2) a list of skills or traits they think a ‘bad listener’ has
  2. Discuss these ideas and consider why people have included certain skills or traits on the different lists
  3. Create a ‘hot seat’ set up where the facilitator sits in the centre of a half circle. They enter the space as someone who is really anxious and it is the group’s job to make him/her feel he/she is being listened to
  4. Explain to the group that as soon as someone sits in the chair they become a character but as soon as he or she leave the chair the scene stops
  5. Ask a group member to sit in the chair and repeat the above activity using different scenarios for each member
  6. Give the group member a secret scenario. Use a scenario that the group can be interested in. For example, my girlfriend doesn’t treat me right. Then it is the group’s responsibility to listen to the group member talk about what is troubling them and feel comfortable in doing so
  7. Once the group member leaves the chair, ask them and the group to reflect on their experience, what techniques offered by the group made them feel like they could open up? What didn’t?
  8. This activity also works well in pairs

 

LEARNING TO LISTEN

Aim: To give young people a chance to experience and reflect on different types of listening

Overview:
This is an exercise that allows young people to work in pairs and to experience and explore the importance of active listening.

Instructions:

  1. Split the group into pairs, ask each pair to names themselves A and B
  2. Ask As to think of something that irritated them recently (make sure that this is kept light-hearted and is something they are happy to share with B.)
  3. Ask A’s to talk to his/her partner about this subject. Bs have to firstly ignore their partner for 30 seconds, secondly use body language and a few words to show they are listening for 30 seconds, and finally have normal conversation with them for the final 30 seconds. Make sure you give all of these instructions before you begin the exercise
  4. Ask As to begin talking. After each 30 seconds, give Bs the relevant instructions (as above)
  5. Swap and repeat so that As have a chance to be the listener
  6. Finally in a big group, discuss how it felt at each stage, and emphasise the importance of the role of a listener and how this impacts on how you talk to someone and share how you are feeling.

RESOURCES YOU WILL NEED

 

Tin Can Telephone Resources:

A large ball of string
Plenty of empty and clean tin cans (or you can use plastic disposable cups)
 Enough scissors
 A hammer and a nail

A Problem Shared… Resources:

Flip chart paper
A handful of Coloured pens

Empathy

 

Active Listening Resources:

Prepared lists of words
A handful of Pens
Plenty of paper

P1050652

 

Listening Well Resources:

 Enough chairs
A handful of Pens
A selection of Paper

 

how can you tell copy

 

Learning to Listen Resources:

Enough chairs for everyone

Hard to relate