What we did:
The youth work team in Dumfries and Galloway developed a wide-ranging, creative response to meet the diverse needs of young people through lockdown and the summer. Initially, in line with guidance, we provided support digitally, and also via resources delivered directly to 4500 young people in their homes. Over the course of lockdown and the summer, we have provided virtual support on 14 digital platforms, regularly engaging with 300 young people on line.
Alongside this universal support, the youth work team supported a further 361 young people through their targeted ‘Blether’ programme through the lockdown period. Young people from all 16 secondary schools had already begun participating in this programme to access support with their mental health prior to lockdown. As soon as restrictions were enforced, face-to-face meetings were replaced with one-to-one support either by phone or online as often as young people needed it - which, for some, meant daily.
As lockdown eased, youth workers across the region also began to offer face-to-face detached youth work outdoors in communities. 760 young people accessed information and advice, participated in outdoor learning opportunities through this period. From early June until early August, we also led on the delivery of ‘Youth Work Hubs’ for young people aged 11-18.
Who we involved:
We worked closely with colleagues in education and social work teams to ensure they reached as many of the most vulnerable young people as possible during lockdown and through the summer. Young people were connected to the ‘Youth Work Hubs’ via a multi-agency referral system.
The difference it made:
Over the course of lockdown and the summer, youth workers in Dumfries and Galloway had regular contact, online and in person with 6,216 young people.
- 94% of young people developed their skills as a result of their engagement with youth work – particularly social and emotional skills
- 86% of young people saw an improvement in their engagement in learning
- 88% of young people were supported to overcome barriers to learning
- Where wellbeing was monitored, 100% of young people saw improvements in their mental health.
- Nearly 200 young people worked towards an accredited award through this challenging period
- Many young people feel better prepared to go back to school – or to make the transition to further education
“I can cope with situations better now. The sessions have made me calmer and I have some useful coping strategies – they have been really helpful."
“I am now good at planning my work and identifying what I need to do first. I have caught up on my work. I am not worried about school anymore.”
“When I have been coming to this group I’ve made new friends and learned new skills. I can now speak to people I didn’t know and when I go to college I will be more confident.”
What we will do differently in the future:
We noticed that young people who have participated in digital youth work built confidence to join face-to-face sessions as these got back up and running, as lockdown restrictions eased. Families report that participating in activities together online and through the resources provided by the youth work team has helped to build positive relationships – between parents and young people and between siblings. We learned a lot about how to deliver effective youth work online out of necessity through lockdown and we will continue to develop our approach for the future, as it has proved to be such a valuable lifeline for so many young people and families.
We worked in very close partnership with colleagues in formal education through the lockdown period to ensure that we reached young people in the greatest need of support. These stronger relationships will be crucial to the support we can offer going forward – not just in identifying young people who can benefit from youth work, but in working collaboratively with schools to improve attainment outcomes.