Developing and implementing new and safe ways of working to support young people, young adults and their parents/carers during this emergency remains our priority. We are concerned about the emotional wellbeing of the many vulnerable young people and young adults we work with and anticipate an increase in their level of anxiety, confusion and loneliness. Schools are closed and they are confined to their homes. We have had to suspend our sessions at a time when for many the youth project is their second home.

Social media and telephone are being used to maintain regular contact with the 100 plus young people and young adults who regularly attend our sessions every week. Using Instagram we have set up three virtual drop-in sessions from 2pm to 5pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and are introducing two weekly virtual inclusion+ sessions for young adults with additional needs on Wednesdays. We aim to ensure that every young person and young adult has the opportunity to stay in touch, maintain positive and supportive relationships with staff and volunteers giving us the opportunity to respond to any worries and feelings expressed. We are particularly concerned about the wellbeing and mental health of young people we know to be emotionally fragile. This will be our priority.

We have set up a contact phone number – Stay #HomeNotAlone 0793 034 1212 - for concerned young people/adults and their carers/parents which is being monitored by staff during the daytime. It is well publicised via social media, our web site and posters. It is good to talk.

Family support and Counselling of young people and their parents/carers continues using telephone and social media. Our various parent/carer support groups are now done via Zoom although in very exceptional circumstances where face to face contact is considered essential guidelines for safe working have been put in place.

Our online presence has been enhanced to include live group activities, challenges, competitions, tasks and quiz games such as ASAP Live every Monday at 2pm. Some of these have been be tailored to enable the completion of ASDAN folders. Our aim is to provide a platform for safe interaction between young people and ourselves, to overcome boredom and loneliness, to stimulate creativity and promote an active brain and body. We are encouraging young people to pioneer new ways of conducting youth work in a digital arena. This includes work on co-design and youth loneliness, devising web-based activities, creating video diaries and poetry, and writing and publishing our regular newsletter – Inclusion Works.

We have of course followed government instructions to close the Young People’s Centre. This means that all group sessions have ceased until restrictions are lifted. We also feel that it would be inappropriate to have youth workers available on Kings Heath Village Square. We encourage all young people to stay home and acknowledge and applaud young people who have been adhering to this curfew, despite their challenging circumstances.

 

We recognise our responsibility to safeguard the wellbeing of our excellent team of staff and volunteers who have risen to the challenge through innovation and flexibility to ensure that support of vulnerable young people and their families continues. We have developed guidelines for safe working practices and encourage working from home where possible.

We anticipate that these proposals will change as we experience and explore this new way of working and have to adapt to the inevitable reduction in resources during this challenging period of fundraising.