The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt by people of all ages.
Throughout the last year Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity for children and young people’s mental health, has been investigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Their fourth survey, carried out during January 2021, showed that many young people have found this lockdown harder to cope with than previous ones. Anxiety, panic attacks, loneliness and isolation, and concerns about school are all described in their findings.
These last twelve months, Devon’s frontline youth workers have worked tirelessly to support young people during the pandemic. There have been around 85 youth workers, and 27 volunteers, working on behalf of SPACE, who we commission to run youth services in Devon. Their support has made the difference between a young person facing an uncertain future or becoming a productive and valued member of society.
While youth centres are temporarily closed, the creation of an invite-only youth club, via the Discord app, has proven most successful. Open every evening, there’s been almost 2,000 attendances, and it’s being shared with 15 voluntary sector youth clubs across Devon. But online youth sessions are no substitute for the real thing, and young people have missed having somewhere to go, something to do and a trusted adult to talk to.
With no guidebook on how to deliver youth services during lockdown, it was up to youth workers to develop new skills – youth workers such as Alex Gurpinar, who leads a team in Newton Abbot. Her leadership qualities have been recognised nationally, winning her an award at the Inspiring Hope Awards 2021.
“She has not only embraced but pioneered many of the changes we’ve put in place so we can continue to support and develop young people,” added Dan Barton, the Partnerships and Projects Lead
“She has continually demonstrated her determination to keep young people connected, safe, valued and happy.”