“One thing that has struck our team has been how seamlessly young people have stepped in to support each other… peer support is incredibly powerful and incredibly necessary at the moment”
Six weeks of lockdown passes quickly… or does it? We are all learning new ways of working, and now we can start to measure, with more clarity, if what we are doing is actually working.
“It’s so important for young people to talk to and support each other through times like this as well as in everyday ‘normal’ life…” - Taylor, 19
Dropping off of Zoom groups, not replying to emails; young people are beginning to feel the strain a little more. This week, the Young Devon Participation team have found that it’s more vital than ever to utilise the online world to communicate with young people; engaging using WhatsApp, keeping conversations flowing. The power of peer support has become particularly apparent.
Read the reflections of our Participation team below…
The Power of Peer Support…
My biggest memory of this week is the conversations with young people who under really difficult circumstances of their own asked: “How can we reach other young people? How can we help them feel better?” We are all pulling together across the organisation to match that commitment.
One thing that has struck our team has been how seamlessly young people have stepped in to support each other.
Our Youth Council wanted to reach out beyond Young Devon and decided to run an art competition. We were astounded by the quality and quantity of the entries.
Our friends at BBC Radio Devon wanted to hear young people’s stories… all we had to do was ask and they came in thick and fast!
Young people are still coming to our sessions, week in week out, so I suppose we are doing something right; but what?
Today, I caught up with a young person I have been working with in North Devon. She has been attending our (online) Wellbeing Cafe and the Young Leaders for Children and Families Health Devon group. There are some really strong messages in her story – messages around connections and relationships, messages around the power of peer support, and messages of self development and improvement. For this young person at least, I think we’ve got it just about right…
“I’m excited to go to the Young Devon Wellbeing Cafe… to see the new friends that I’ve made, knowing that they’re not judgemental but supportive of what I think or do or feel…” - Savannah
In a few short weeks, the Young Leaders for Children and Families Health Devon group I lead are becoming a great team; working together and supporting each other. They respond to each others needs quickly and effortlessly; offering chats to each other, tips to get each other out of difficult times and sharing what they are doing to keep themselves going in this altered reality. Every ping of my phone gives me a reason to smile, as I see another WhatsApp message of support sent from a young people in the group to another. It makes me very proud to do what I do right now.
“Joining a new group of people is always a challenging thing to do, but the added obstacle of having to navigate the social and technological issues of having no face to face meetings made it all the more daunting. However, once we got into it and started Zoom calls each week, along with a group chat to keep in touch and updated, it became clear that we were a group that could work well together to support each other through such a challenging and uncertain time… having a group of supportive friends that you see regularly is really helpful. It gives each of us something to look forward to each week and allows us to all check in with each other and provide extra support to those of us who need a bit of a ‘pep talk’ or positivity to get through the lockdown…” - Feedback from a young person
Peer support is incredibly powerful and incredibly necessary at the moment. For us all, but particularly for young people. The togetherness it fosters really keeps people going. It also seem infectious (in a good way). The quieter members of the group are saying a little bit more, offering their opinions, the discussion gets bigger and more diverse, everyone in the group is sharing the little things in life that they value without fear of judgement. Real true relationships are being formed. This will make the work we do together all the more powerful. We may even be grateful that we had to start in this way and at this time.
Taylor sums it up best when he says…
“Everyone goes through their own things in life but this situation has really shown us that there are fundamental challenges that we all face. Being open and understanding about those challenges with each other can help make everyone’s life a little bit easier and a little bit happier” - Taylor, 19
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. 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.