“At the end of the day, young people need to know that we won’t shut our doors to them. These are strange times and it seems that young people need our services more now than ever before”

In this uncertain time, Young Devon are still here.

Every day, our staff are finding and trialling modern ways to support young people during this crisis. We are having to adapt to a new way of connecting, guiding and helping young people.

Of course, with any new way of working comes challenges and difficulties.

In this article, Debs from our Advocacy team and Andy from our Participation team reflect on their successes and struggles over the past month, and some challenges they have encountered in their new ways of working.

Successes and Struggles…

Q: How do you reflect on this past month?


This month, for me, has been about learning, about frustrations, about moments of joy too; there have been tears and there has been deep laughter. I feel as though I have transitioned from a position of surety and structure and a confidence in what I do, to one of uncertainty, questioning and vulnerability.

It struck me this week that there is actually something really powerful about being vulnerable, about giving something a try, about sitting in the discomfort of new practices. That there is something very powerful about sharing these experiences with colleagues too – after all, we are all in this together, right?

“I have come to know that the vulnerability can used to create advantage. If we trust in the not knowing and look for solutions to the hurdles we face, learning and development takes place…”

Q: What challenges have you encountered?


I am still able to gather and share information and to keep up to date with how our young people are coping.

However, it’s difficult to communicate using mobiles or laptops with the young people who are referred to the Young Devon Advocacy service, as most have multiple and complex special needs. The young person may have Autism or a physical disability, they might be blind or have learning disabilities. Mental health issues are also common with young people referred to us. Others may have children and be involved with the child protection service or experiencing domestic abuse, possibly, happening in the home.

We do what we can in the circumstances.


I held my first online Wellbeing Cafe this week, via Zoom. I didn’t know much about the technology before last week, but I know I am a good facilitator and someone that can build and maintain good relationships. Instead of being anxious about the former; not knowing my way round a piece of software, I focused on ensuring that the young people I was working with knew that someone had them in mind, that someone would listen to their concerns, that someone would be on the end of the line, should they need that. It worked, and it will be better next week when we meet (online) again.

At the end of the day, young people need to know that we won’t shut our doors to them. These are strange times and it seems that young people need our services more now than ever before.

Q: How are you overcoming anxiety during the pandemic?


I think that lockdown has caused everyone to experience more feelings of worry and anxiety; our day to day life has changed significantly over the past weeks. We are creatures of routine or habit, and this is a normal response to the situation we find ourselves in.

I live on my own and miss the daily social interactions of ordinary life.

I feel restless at times, and go out for a bike ride or walk in nature to help reduce restlessness or feelings of worry.

Mindfulness is something I have practised for a while and I combine walking with mindfulness to remain positive. I have a list of ideas and things to do, and I take each day as it comes; this helps me to cope with the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in.

I try to let go of the things I cannot control, as this just causes frustration and angst.

I distract myself by being creative, drawing painting or writing.


The surf and the outdoors is a great help for me. It’s what keeps me going, and why I have chosen to work and live in North Devon. It’s also why I moved to the West Country 20 years ago.

Young Devon is still open and supporting young people everyday.

If you or a young person you know is struggling during this difficult time, please contact us. If you need support, or advice; we are only an email, phone call or text away.

Please see our Coronavirus Service Update for up-to-date details on how to contact us.