How Sheffield Futures has adapted to keep youth services running during lockdown

Sheffield Futures has a vital role to play in supporting vulnerable young people in the city, but with services unable to be carried out face-to-face it has had to adapt to continue its work during the pandemic.

Saturday, 1st August 2020, 8:00 am
Sheffield Futures has adapted its services during lockdown, offering 'virtual' youth clubs and activities through its social media platforms

Ordinarily, the charity delivers an extensive programme of activities and targeted support to young people around employment, social inclusion, careers guidance and personal development.

But the coronavirus lockdown meant that the clubs and buildings where the services were carried out had to close, leaving many vulnerable youngsters without a vital social meeting place at a time when they are perhaps needed more than ever.

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As part of its assertive outreach work and detached youth work for older young people, Sheffield Futures has continued to deliver face-to-face throughout the Covid period with the use of PPE and social distancing

Although a devastating blow, Sheffield Futures says it has been able to continue running the majority of its services – albeit through different ways than before - to ensure the young people in the city can access support through what has been a challenging time for all.

CEO Gail Gibbons said: “Our delivery teams have strived to adapt and deliver essential support for young people virtually.

"We have continued to receive referrals and are providing our usual structured one to one support, counselling and missing return interviews to young people over the phone and through video calls, particularly keeping in touch to support the most vulnerable young people and who need one to one specialist support.”

The charity has also created virtual ‘youth clubs' and group work sessions – bringing back that vital lifeline for some youngsters where there is always a trusted adult to talk to, regardless of whether they are shielding at home.

Youth workers at Sheffield Futures have been engaging with young people through fun online activities to help distract them from some of the problems they may be facing

Ms Gibbons continued: “Our assertive outreach work and detached youth work for older young people has continued to deliver face-to-face throughout the Covid period with the use of PPE and social distancing.”

In April, research by the National Youth Agency revealed there are now three million vulnerable young people in England who need support with family relationships, mental health, domestic abuse, or other needs – an extra two million needing help because of the pandemic.

The figures were estimated from emerging data collated in March and April, including from helplines, sector reports and grassroots evidence, and compared with existing official data such as the numbers of vulnerable children and NHS data on mental health.

Door 43, a mental health and support service run by Sheffield Futures, has continued running its wellbeing café as a weekly live stream to help youngsters deal with problems they may be facing during lockdown.

Elsewhere, the charity has offered daily support and guidance across its social media platforms on a range of topics including eating well and managing uncertainty.

It has also created ‘Four Minute Fire’ videos to help with aspects such as CV writing, interview preparation, accessing lockdown jobs.

Ms Gibbons said the charity also recognises that young people “struggle throughout the evening and at weekends when many services are closed”.

Therefore it has now extended its support to offer a telephone helpline when other support is not available.

As lockdown restrictions ease, Sheffield futures is also extending its support through ‘Walk and Talk’ meetings, doorstep home visits and in-office appointments for more structured interventions.

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