Project: To continue to support some of Aylesbury Vale’s most disadvantaged young people remotely at a time when they need it most
Fund: Bucks Coronavirus Response Appeal
Youth Concern closed its drop-in centre on 17th March 2020. Before the UK lockdown came into force, an average of 50 young people came to Youth Concern’s centre on Whitehill Lane to play table tennis or pool, record music, or just relax. Trust was built between these young people and Youth Concern’s youth workers and counsellors, and in time, many of them then sought advice on a variety of issues from CV writing and job applications, to help with drug and alcohol use, to sexual health, to accommodation and mental health.
Before the lockdown, many of Youth Concern’s visitors already felt isolated and excluded; many were not at school and had no Pupil Referral Unit; those beyond school age were often out of work or working on zero-hour contracts. The biggest concern was that an imposed break would be unsettling and may cause these young people to relapse.
With their grant of £5,000 from the Bucks Coronavirus Response Appeal, Youth Concern were able to continue to support and reassure some of Aylesbury Vale’s most disadvantaged young people at a time when they needed help most.
“Working from home, we launched a triage system”, explains Hannah Asquith, the Chief Executive of Youth Concern. “Young people call the usual number to be put through to the most appropriate member of staff. We introduced a mobile number for WhatsApp and text message requests for support, and increased our profile on social media.
“Many of our young people are now direct messaging us. We’ve created a suite of videos for our YouTube channel, that give easily digestible 2 minute synopses of our services. We have also launched an online chat service that’s proving very popular. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammad…
“We also continue to run a weekly music session on a Friday afternoon, now virtually”.
Youth Concern have several aims for the near future, too. They are currently developing an online programme of support, working with partner organisations to identify suitable content and appropriate platforms to replicate the ‘drop-in’ nature of their pre-COVID work. This could include live and recorded streams on nutrition, fitness, mental health and assertiveness, among many other important topics. Youth Concern will be running a survey shortly, asking Aylesbury’s young people what they’d like and how they’d prefer to receive support, encouraging them to make suggestions.
You can visit Youth Concern’s YouTube channel here.