Due to Covid-19 we have obviously had to suspend our face to face work in the community, and although young people were initially disappointed this did highlight how important these sessions are to them. We have work to adapt flexibly to offer ongoing support and opportunities to engage remotely and via online platforms, on social media we are utilising Facebook and Instagram, the latter being more effective and engaging for young people. These Youth Club pages are aimed to engage young people who usually attend our sessions and to maintain ongoing positive relationships and additional support; however, we also hope that we can utilise our online and remote service to engage a wider audience of young people in our communities who may benefit from our posts, activities and support.
Our content is generated daily and is suitable for young people to do within their own homes, supporting the government guidelines. We post our own ideas/versions of creations making the experience a lot more personal and relatable and ask for the young people to post their results or ideas back to us. Our programme includes focuses on challenge, keeping active, opportunities to learn, be creative and have fun. The weekly programme is as follows:
Magic Monday – DIY fun science experiments.
Tik Tok Tuesday – A variety of challenges, from dances, sports related, hand movements and more.
Wild-Card Wednesday – This is not as themed as the others but can cover a lot of areas such as: painting, creative writing, small basic DIY projects, and even topics such as internet safety.
Think Thursday- A quiz which the theme will change weekly. We are looking at ways to host this more live, so young people can feel more connected.
Food Friday- Short lessons on basic healthy cooking and little fun food challenges.
Our Facebook pages are slowly getting more popular with our Highbridge Youth Club page current stats looking like:
Page views – 25, Post reach – 290 ,Page Likes – 8, Post engagement – 130.
And our Instagram – ymca_youthclubs:
78 followers, Reach on grid posts– 303, Reach on stories (past 14 days) – 21
In addition to this service for young people we have a closed groups for our YMCA Highbridge Stay and Play sessions with activities and support and advice for parents and young children.
The content displayed is adapted for a younger audience and for activities which all the family can get involved in. Similarly to our other pages we have a posting schedule, we create beneficial activities for children’s learning and development, this is supported by a fact with each post allowing parents to gain extra knowledge and find comfort in knowing they are supporting their child’s development through our activities. We again post our own ideas/versions keeping it personal and maintaining existing relationships whilst offering familiarity and encouraging families to stay connected. It’s a great method to keep all of the community engaged and help support development socially, emotionally and physically.
• We have had communication from one of our young people who reported suffering online bullying. With staff keeping in contact regularly we have felt reassured the young person is ok and we are continuing to stay in touch and offer support. We have since posted about the impact of online bullying.
•We have had comments from families particularly on our Highbridge Facebook page supporting our posts, often commenting ‘Well done’ to staff or ‘I’m going to try this with my grandson’, as well as young people generating ideas of their own for staff and friends to try.
•Comments from a number of young people have also been that the miss staff, friends and sessions and a lot of questions in regards to when we will be reopening. This demonstrates the positive impact of the service and our work, but has also led us to develop a Zoom Youth Club offer.
We originally contacted parents through their information they provided on permission/contact slips, explaining about our online and remote offer, what we are aiming to provide and how they and their young people can stay connected.
Virtually – We have now held Zoom Youth Clubs for a number of our groups, developing this way of working and revising our practice and updated our safeguarding policy to reflect this. These sessions have been welcomed by the young people who have got involved, enjoying games and challenges and seeing staff and friends. We will now be rolling this out for all of Youth Groups as part of a regular weekly schedule of groups. The Highbridge & Burnham-on-Sea group is happening each Wednesday at 7pm.
Our main aim for the Zoom meetings is to encourage all young people to stay connected and be social and know they have a point of contact they can still talk to if they ever need advice or guidance outside of the home environment.
Feedback from the sessions have been very positive. One young person said ‘I have felt very isolated from my friends, since being in lockdown. Being able to connect with them on the Zoom meetings have cheered me up. Thank you’
I have been in contact with the local library who have been sharing content and supporting our pages and as a result encouraging young people who would benefit to visit/interact with our virtual sessions. In addition to this I have also been in contact with members of staff from Zing Somerset who support public health through the county council. They have provided engaging sites for young people promoting a healthy life style that can be achieved throughout lock down. I have had permission to use information they have provided through our own sites to further support the young people and families who are engaging across our social media sites.
We have been keeping in contact with Avon and Somerset Police as they are keen to work with youth organisations to encourage and educate young people as opposed to reprimand should there be challenges around them not following social distancing guidance. This is a situation they are continuing to monitor and we and other organisations are ready to work in partnership, should there be a need in the communities where we have built positive relationships with young people.
Overall all pages are in use and actively being engaged with a variety of young people and families. Staff are generating content regular content through the week daily as well as being available to offer support. Comments and conversations suggest that these online sessions are beneficial to our young people. This is something we would look at to maintain going forward, as a compliment to face-to-face work and potentially as part of a staggered approach to returning to community provision as lockdown measures are relaxed.