Sometimes, when I’ve been really busy I plan to have a day where I do absolutely nothing and I look forward it and think about all the things I’m not going to do. When the day arrives I thoroughly enjoy it for about an hour and then I’m like… ‘okay so what are we doing today?’
So needless to say, I’m having a great time over here in isolation!
I’m sure like many of you the “bored” games are out (my nephew still managed to cheat at monopoly over face time so that was impressive) the entirety of Netflix has been binged, I’ve learnt what it means to lime wax furniture, my house has never been so clean and I’m eating chocolate in the morning like it’s Christmas day.
Everyone’s mission to avoid boredom is underway and as youth workers we can use this factor to support our work with young people and ensure that they are provided with some continuity through maintaining their relationships with you and the support you provide them.
The fact is, for the majority of your young people just continuing the opportunity to meet once a week will be enough because it will mean you are still there. The truth we all know as youth workers however is that lack of capacity is one of the only things that prevents us from offering even more support than we already do. With this in mind, we have put together some resources that we hope will support you with your engagement with young people and some resources for you to give them outside of that engagement.
When interacting with young people over video calling platforms like ‘Zoom’, think about those easy to access games that could be done on the whiteboard feature over screen share. Noughts and crosses, hangman, dots; easy games that can be done with small groups to have something to do with young people while laying the foundation for what really matters; the space for conversation.
Like you would during a game of table tennis or while doing some crafts, use these as a tool to engage young people in conversations. Check in, how are they feeling, what would they like to do in future… Like any youth work session use these activities as your tools to identify your next steps in supporting and engaging your young people.
A key theme of youth work is the engagement of young people in topical issues affecting them. This opportunity to participate in non-formal learning shouldn’t stop now.
There are groups who are using live streams over Facebook or Instagram to answer questions they have gathered from young people about a chosen topic or theme that week. Although this doesn’t allow for that back and forth conversation that comes from face to face provision what it does mean is that young people are still accessing information and that they can ask questions that they may not feel confident or comfortable to ask over a group video call. You can engage through the comments and can also use this as a basis for future online sessions with young people as there may be things covered they want to chat about in more detail.
The relationships we have with young people are fundamental. It is important during this time to maintain those relationships and it is important to think about how we do this when we may not always have the capacity to video call and not all of your young people may be able to access sessions through this platform.
One way to deal with this would be to provide a conversation starter using Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. Similar to an icebreaker at the beginning of a session, why not ask something light hearted and fun remembering to respond and react to their answers. A tool that gives young people something to do for 15 minutes, allows room for potentially the first conversation they’ve had that day or possibly gives them the opening to talk about something they really want to talk about.
This is a time where a lot of people are taking the opportunity to explore their creativity. The challenge is having accessible materials inside to fully express this. Kill two birds with one stone through a fun activity to create juggling balls. This can be done simply with balloons (or socks if need be) and rice (or something similar). An activity that could be done with groups via video call or online platforms, or a task you give young people to do independently. And hey, maybe set them the challenge of learning a new skill.
The most important thing is to have fun with different tools and don’t be afraid to fail – bring young people on the journey with you and include them where possible in designing activities that they want to do. You can share learning, knowledge and ideas with other professionals through the Facebook forum: Change Makers – Oxfordshire Youth Provision and can contact us for advice and support: firstname.lastname@example.org