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Annual Report

Provision through the pandemic

Open access

Following the first UK National Lockdown, Youth First transitioned to delivering an open-access offer under the National Youth Agency's guidance. This included regular 1-2-1 sessions and small 'bubble' based face-to-face sessions for young people judged to be at most risk/need at ten sites.

Under the 'bubble' system, up to 15 young people could attend a session at any given time and sessions were allocated to specific bubbles. Young people aged 11 years and older wore masks on-site and signage indicated entry and exit points for young people. 

Youth First was proud to offer this vital line of support during such a critical time for young people and we're especially thankful for the hard work of the operational team and all of the front-line staff in making this happen. 

Youth First also partnered with other organisations, which allowed us to further meet the needs of young people by giving access to laptops (reducing the digital divide) and providing a food offer both at sites and home.

Virtual provision

Youth First introduced a virtual programme during the pandemic to engage young people during lockdowns when face-to-face was restricted. These included Zoom "online youth clubs" run by professional youth and play workers in the borough. Skills-based projects were also run every week via Zoom - such as:

  • Called to Create - weekly creative and craft activities
  • Youth Fight Against Racism - an education and activism project
  • Cook-Along - healthy recipes to cook together live on Zoom
  • Design a Brand - teaching young people about branding, design and marketing.

Youth First social media and website promoted positive activities such as 'The Lockdown Diaries', 'Buss a Move' and the 'Fitness Challenge'. The Lockdown Diaries received multiple entries from young people sharing their experience whilst quarantining. Another form of youth engagement was weekly LIVE Instagram programmes including Friday evening DJ sets, live cooking and 'Chill 'n' Chat' (a live chat show hosted by Youth Workers). These included opportunities for young people to get involved through competitions and a live chat function.

Below are some of our highlights:

  • Food that was free for young people, when they attended face-to-face sessions
  • Care packages that were delivered to 100 young people
  • What's the Risk delivered virtually and in sites such as Deptford Adventure Playground
  • The Friday Night Quiz which streamed live on Instagram with real-time collaboration at sites
  • Virtual youth club sessions based on local sites and hosted on Zoom
  • Weekly food parcels that were free for young people and delivered directly to their family home, including over the Christmas period
  • Localised key-working, including referrals from Family Information Services
  • Live Instagram content including cook alongs, Chill' n' Chats
  • Use of the website for activities and signposting to support and provision
  • Young people self-referring through the 'Talk to a Youth Worker' button on our website
  • End of Year showcase for the Woodpecker Carnival project
  • Detached work in Lewisham town centre, Sydenham and Woodpecker estate from our street-based team
  • Competitions such as 'Decorate an egg' providing holiday activities
  • Surveys and activities through social media including 'Make your own 2021 vision board'
  • Condom distribution for young people via key working
  • Nine laptops provided to families (to support the reduction of digital poverty)
  • Sites open during the Easter holiday provision thanks to additional income
  • Increased food delivery on-site and to homes during the Easter half term. 

Riverside Seniors Project

Over the course of 9 months (Oct 2019 to July 2020) the Senior’s project at Riverside Youth Club provided weekly focused sessions for young people aged 13+ to build stronger peer and adult relationships. This included access to mental and sexual health counselling from Compass, and support and positive activities chosen with and tailored to their needs. 

Sessions included cooking and sharing a meal, workshop discussions, structured activities alongside drop-in sports and wellbeing activities. We’re thankful to an anonymous private donor that funded this project.

Unfortunately the project was interrupted due to COVID-19, nonetheless the project exceeded it’s target of reaching 75 young people aged 13-18. In total, 64 hours of provision were delivered through 28 sessions. Of the 101 young people that attended, 64% where BAME, 56% were female and 64% were male, and 75% of attendees were from the Evelyn ward.