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Annual Report

Year in review

Following a successful summer of holiday provision, Youth First entered it’s forth year as an organisation in Aug 2019 with a 10% YOY* increase in unique participants - over 5,500 young people accessed the service across Lewisham in 12 months. 

High participation continued, with 2,855 unique participants in the months Sep 19 - Mar 20. However, Youth First’s successful growth took a turn as the nation began to grapple with COVID-19. The data on unique participants clearly shows the impact on restricting physical use of sites to the required invite-only bubbles. The graph above shows unique participants and regular participants (dated from March to show the impact of coronavirus).


The effects of the pandemic (including a series of lockdowns) led Youth First to quickly transition it’s offer to providing a number of online experiences including ‘virtual’ youth club sessions, Zoom workshops and social media content.  Youth First ran 363 'Virtual’ youth club sessions over Zoom and provided targeted 1-to-1 support for 143** young people, over a course of 478 phone or text conversations. 

The graph above shows session attendences, month-by-month. Again the effect of the pandemic is clear. Where possible this data includes attendance at online sessions such as Zoom youth clubs and workshops.

It’s with great thanks to the Youth First team that sites were able to open during the pandemic. Youth First was proud to deliver youth services from physical sites by operating under the National Youth Agency's guidance found in the COVID Readiness Framework. This changed over time, but included mechanisms such as “outdoor-only” provision, group work with vulnerable young people and bubble systems (and lots and lots of cleaning). Resources were also provided virtually via the website, and social media including a “Talk to a Youth Worker” request, support resources and activity ideas for young people while at home.

Youth First was also occupied by another significant issue - an inevitable restructure coined ‘Youth First 2.0’. While selected as the preferred partner for Lewisham Council’s youth services tender in January 2020 - the emergence of COVID-19 resulted in delays to the agreement of a contract set to start 1 April 2021. The future contract brings a significant budget reduction and changes the scope of Youth First’s work in the borough. Agreeing and preparing for this contract became the main organisational priority for Youth First.


*10% Year on year increase (12 months to Sept 19 vs 12 months to sept 18)
**This included young people that were referred to us by Lewisham Council through the Family Information Service