A “Youth Club in a Boot” is one of the successful ways support workers in North Yorkshire have kept in contact with children and young people throughout lockdown.
Throughout the pandemic, Children and Families Support Workers have been devising innovative ways of maintaining contact and relationships with the young people they help.
Some of their support work takes place in youth clubs, where staff provide practical and emotional support to children experiencing challenges and difficult issues in their lives. When lockdown began, staff were faced with the challenge of continuing their work, despite restrictions such as social distancing and the closure of venues and meeting places.
One way they got round this in Scarborough, was by developing a ‘Youth Club in a Boot’, delivering packs to children containing activities and resources such as healthy, inexpensive recipes, tips for keeping fit and active, information leaflets and staff contact details.
Delivering the packs personally, enables support workers to have doorstep conversations to take place, where support workers can see for themselves that they are OK, as well as giving the young person an opportunity to maintain contact with an adult outside their home. In between visits, support workers are able to keep contact virtually through video calling, phone calls or WhatsApp messaging.
The packs have contained different items each week. They have included a plant pot and some compost, to encourage the children to find seeds such as apple pips to plant, as well as exercise challenges and the ingredients for a fruit bird feeder to hang outside. Recently the packs have contained pencil cases with items of stationery added each week, to encourage the children to think about their return to school and to help those with home learning. The packs have also contained cheap, healthy recipes to make at home and contact details for services.
The children using the services attend youth clubs in the Scarborough area. Some young people using the services have additional vulnerabilities and youth clubs can form vital support, especially when normal routine has been significantly changed.
Elizabeth White, a Senior Early Help Consultant with North Yorkshire County Council said: “When lockdown began we contacted the young people who would normally come to our sessions to see if they still wanted to be involved and they all did.
“When we deliver the packs we also get to check in with them. It’s a good way for us to have sight of the children; sometimes you can hide how you’re feeling on a video call or present yourself however you want. But seeing them in person enables our support workers to make an assessment on how they look and act, as well as how they say they feel. If they say they want more support we can make referrals to additional services.
“For some young people our support workers are the only constant contact they have had with an adult outside their home throughout lockdown.
“When some of them returned to school we asked them if they wanted to end the home visits and none of them did. It’s been a really good way of keeping in touch with them. It shows them we’re still thinking about them, still care about them and want the best for them.”
Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “Our Children and Families Support Workers throughout the county have applied a great deal of creativity and innovation to ensure young people have stayed safe and well throughout lockdown. The initiative has enabled them to maintain important contact with our young people and ensure those receiving our support know they have not been forgotten.”