The team at The Abingdon Damascus Youth Project (ADYP) have been innovating ways of maintaining contact with the young people they support. In this guest blog, written by James, Roxy and Jake, they explore how they are making youth work work in this period of covid-19 crisis.
‘Youth Work has historically responded in times of crisis, as deep within every crisis lies an opportunity for growth’
Over the years, youth work has taken on many forms in a variety of settings, but few have operated exclusively through virtual spaces. The principles of youth work say nothing about being a “social influencer”! But venturing into this “unknown” territory has allowed us to continue to communicate, socialise and engage meaningfully with young people in way we never dreamt of in the past.
As a youth charity, we feel Education, Employment and Training (EET) is core to young people’s empowerment and have been adapting our way of working to meet their needs in these unprecedented times of social distancing and economic hardship due to COVID-19. From the start, when school and college closures were announced, we were gathering information and taking advantage of social media platforms to continue engagement opportunities for young people. Detached youth work is essentially about going into the heart of the community and that is fundamentally what we have continued to do ‑ virtually.
Utilising the online tools popular with young people, and linking learning material to sources of entertainment, extends our potential for impact. We have embraced it as an opportunity to redefine our charity’s capacity and ways of thinking about young people’s role in education and community activism through the following:
- Setting a routine and offering free educational support from volunteers in the community so that our young people don’t fall behind and inevitably out of the EET system
- Online support with job searches, applications and interviews
Wellbeing and Social Support
- Focused online “support chat groups”
- Bespoke parent support and also useful links to resources in this lockdown period
- Mind and Body Gym (You Tube) Channel – developing interactive virtual, one-stop access to fitness regime and activities to challenge critical thinking skills and practice good mental health
- Live interactive sessions – we adapt versions of popular games and invite young people and their families to play
- Developing a collection of issue-based interactive online workshops for young people and parents to access using Zoom.
- Most importantly, providing daily one-to-one support to our most vulnerable young people to ensure their safety
They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating – in the space of just two weeks we have made a good start –two of our young people succeeded in being invited for job interviews after the ‘virtual’ interview practise we gave and more than 40 young people and adults have already joined our Insta Live sessions! Watch this space for more!
Rooted within the communities, the Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project (ADYP) currently works in the rural villages of Drayton, Appleford, Milton, Sutton Courtenay and Steventon as well as South Abingdon. The ADYP Team – Roxy Elford, Jake Fleetwood and James Quartermain