“As others shut their doors, we are seeking ways not to. This is not an easy task, working across Devon”
In this uncertain time, we at Young Devon are finding and trialling new ways to support young people. From phone calls, to video chats; we are having to readapt to a new way of working and offering support.
Sometimes, these new ways end up being incredibly successful! Other times, we may need to go back to the drawing board.
Every few weeks, our Participation team will be writing their thoughts and reflections on their new ways of working, and any advice they have to those who are supporting young people…
Keeping Connection in Uncertain Times…
We are 3 members of the Participation team at Young Devon; Nathan, Andy and Steve.
We each have over a decade of youth and community work experience, and wanted to share our journey supporting young people in these uncertain times.
Here are some of our initial reflections…
An old youth work adage is that ‘we work with who shows up’. Well… last Wednesday night at 6pm, 12 members of the Young Devon Youth Council ‘showed up’ to our Zoom meeting. Some were in isolation, some were just relaxing and one or two had been feeling unwell.
All I can say is that I’m really proud Young Devon ‘showed up’ to support them.
We had an excellent session and young people were massively keen to engage. We all had a chance to check in with each other, support each other and generally have a bit of a much needed ‘laugh’ in these uncertain times.
Did we do much Youth Council ‘stuff’? Not so sure?
Did we support young people and make things a little easier? Definitely!
I run a Wellbeing Cafe on a Thursday, and sadly at the moment I’m not able to do that face to face! In light of current events, I decide that reaching out and offering an individual phone call to each member of the group might be just what’s needed. I am nervous, as this not normally how we work.
What will happen, what will we talk about, will they even answer the phone?
The first call is a bit jaunty for the first 10 seconds and then the penny drops. The young person on the other end of the line sounds genuinely really pleased to hear from me. The calls continue for the next hour or so, and my positivity grows as I speak to each young person. By the time I have spoken to them all, my mind is whirring with thoughts around how to keep these vital connections going.
Much of my work over the last months has been building up to bringing a group of young people interested in creating change in healthcare together, also known as the “Children Family Health Devon” leaders group. A new group from all over the county.
We all know that bringing young people together in a new way has its challenges.
When the group already know each other, this is made a little easier; so I was concerned about how a group of young people that didn’t know each other would work. Especially over video call.
As youth workers, we know that the first experience of a group is important…
Last week, we brought 8 young people together over Zoom for a first conversation, and I think it worked! In addition to their shared interest, we know that right now it is more important than ever to reach out beyond your four walls.
“Having the session on Zoom meant I could have some human contact while in isolation. It allowed me to stay involved with something I feel passionately about without putting my health at risk, while also being a massive staple in protecting my own mental health” - Feedback from a young person
These are tricky and uncharted waters, but they do offer some great opportunities for being brave and testing different ways of working and innovation in practice. One thing is certain though – the connections we have around us are vital to us staying healthy and well. To steal a quote from Robert Walldinger, ‘The good life begins with good relationships’.
Stay tuned for more updates, as we continue this journey to support and work with young people in new and innovative ways.