Youth Services: staying connected in lockdown

The pandemic has caused a sharp departure from our usual activities, with most of our support in the first part of the summer taking place online and by phone. Phone calls, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Instagram and WhatsApp have become part of our daily toolkit for engaging with young people, all with mixed results.

Nothing can replace regular face-to-face contact, but we’ve weathered the last few months and have started to deliver smaller, structured, face-to-face sessions again.

From July we began a Music and Mentoring programme funded by RBKC, which sees our young people work alongside our music technician while receiving vital mental health and wellbeing support from our Youth Workers trained in mentoring and coaching. The programme is designed to support young people who may be particularly affected by COVID-19 and the lockdown and are therefore at greater risk of involvement in criminal activity or anti-social behaviour. This programme will run until the end of September, helping us to smooth the transition back to ‘normal’ services in the autumn.

Mental wellbeing

From October we’ll be running an in-house version of our successful Man Cave mental wellbeing programme. Funded by RBKC’s Safer Neighbourhood’s Board, the programme will mix food, football and mentoring to engage some of the hardest-to-reach young men in our community. It will be run in partnership with another group from Westway, helping us to breakdown postcode barriers while supporting the outlook and wellbeing of young men aged 16-25.

Autumn timetable

We will re-open our Youth Club in September, but it won’t be business as usual. Activities will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays and will be limited to structured sessions conducive to social distancing, such as those in our music studio, rather than more fluid activities such as team games and table tennis. Our fitness suite will remain closed for the time being, and young people will need to book in their sessions at Youth Club so we can control numbers.

To ensure we’re still reaching as many young people as possible and staying in contact with those who may not take to the more formal structure, we’ll continue supporting them remotely and will hold one-to-one sessions with those needing more support.

An individual approach

Rebecca* has been attending our youth sessions for a long-time, showing a particular interest and skill in creative arts. She took part in our Dazed photography project last year and has been getting involved in our Amplify creative arts programme.

She has an incredible eye for photography and has been receiving help from our team to build her portfolio. While Rebecca’s skill is innate, she lacked experience and needed support to ‘break in’ to the industry.

We matched Rebecca with a mentor who is experienced in helping people to harness their potential. These sessions focus on building Rebecca’s motivation and focus, giving her the professional skills to pursue her passion as a career, rather than just a hobby.

Over the summer Rebecca started working with one of our volunteers with an extensive background in photography and modelling, which has helped build Rebecca’s confidence and portfolio and helped to expand her view of where, with the right discipline, her passion can take her.

*name changed to protect privacy

24th August 2020