Mary Riley, Youth Coordinator at YMCA Hampton Youth Project reflects on delivering youth work in the rather different Summer of 2020 leading into the current Autumn lockdown.
Coming out of the first lockdown period
Over the summer period we provided detached work in the local park, unfortunately, the weather was not always kind to us but we persevered with the sessions and were able to engage with small groups of young people to conduct art and crafts and badminton sessions.
Although the country was still in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, this did not stop us from reopening our doors in September to the young people of Hampton. The activities had to change, with young people not being allowed to play football and basketball indoors. Our sessions remained the same by providing much-needed respite and the opportunity to socialise with friends. You read can read more about the impact of Covid 19 on young people in our recent report.
Unfortunately, the impact of the Coronavirus had an impact on service delivery and the numbers of young people we are allowed to work with (maximum 15 including staff). The team had to be creative to ensure as many members have an opportunity to attend the club. So, we divided each session into two parts. However, this still had a knock-on effect and we did lose some of our members who previously regularly came to play sports.
Initially, it was not easy for staff and young people to adjust to the new normal and settle back into club life. Especially with all the rules and regulations around social distancing, wearing masks, and hand sanitizing; even for the staff. We found ourselves continuously having to remind members to wear their masks and to sanitize hands.
Although we did reopen, it was somewhat difficult for members, particularly a lot of the boys and young men who have been unable to play the sports they love such as football or basketball. For many of our girls and young women who loved to engage in cooking activities. As a staff team, we have worked hard to encourage the participation of young people in the limited activities we were able to offer. It was great to see our members once again and check in with them face to face.
One of the projects chosen by one of our two successful Jack Petchey awardees who were awarded The Jack Petchey Achievement Award during the first lockdown period, the funds have gone towards a creative art project and currently, our young people are busy painting and transforming the upstairs room into an art room, with murals that have been designed by one of the awardees and a senior female member.
Work with girls and young women
Our Girls and Young Women group restarted in the earlier part of October, continuing our Partnership work with Crossways delivering sessions on Body image, Self- esteem building, and being creative in making their own fabric face masks, these sessions have seen a few male members taking up sewing by hand and machine.
Invaluable support from our volunteers
I would like to take this moment to say a very Big Thank You to Tom Thomas one of our volunteers who went above and beyond to teach members virtually how to play guitar throughout the summer months, you have been amazing teaching these four young people of beginner and intermediate levels how to play the guitar two afternoons a week, and that three of whom are still continuing their sessions one afternoon a week now that we are open.
Voices of hope and Brite Box
Throughout the summer ten families following an invitation from Voices of Hope who work in partnership with the Brite Box Project gave ten young people the opportunity to prepare and cook well- balanced and healthy meals with members of their family, we are continuing with the project and giving some of our newer members the opportunity to be part of the project continuing to post their videos on the club’s social media pages.
Black History Month 2020
We celebrated Black History Month by posting daily information of Historical figures past and present; Black Inventors and Achievers, African Kings and Queens, and Caribbean recipe dishes on our social media pages and complemented this with an Information display within the youth club.
With a new lockdown now in place, the next few weeks and months are going to be a challenge for both young people and staff, and as a staff team. We will continue to do our very best to support our young members with their emotional and mental well-being. Also to take care of ourselves and continue to drive home the message of the importance of face masks, sanitizing, and social distancing to our members through our virtual interactions until we can once again open our doors to the young people of Hampton.