Young people across the county are reminded that Warwickshire County Council groups, clubs and projects are still taking place during the latest lockdown.
The council’s youth service is continuing to offer services and support for young people and helping them to stay safe during the pandemic.
The team of qualified youth workers use their knowledge, skills and experience to build strong relationships with young people to help them learn and grow and discover new opportunities. They work in local communities and spend a lot of time working with youngsters to understand how they feel and what motivates them.
While everyone stays at home to stay safe there are still lots of ways youth workers are supporting young people. The service provides one-to-one support online and offers GRITT, a virtual youth group for young people who are experiencing mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and isolation.
The Bike Project, helping young people to repair and maintain their own bike as well as ride safely, has moved online since the first lockdown. To enable the project to continue through lockdown, bikes are delivered safely to participants so they can continue to be supported through online courses until the group can meet in person again.
Warwickshire’s Youth Council is also part of the youth service. Each year, young people across Warwickshire vote for self-nominated young people to represent them on issues important to them. Monthly youth councillor meetings are still taking place along with typical activities such as campaigning and liaising with bodies of power on behalf of their peers.
Since the pandemic began, the youth service has seen an increase in demand and therefore youth workers have gone above and beyond to support young people during this difficult time on a range of issues. For many young people, the last year has been extremely challenging. Periods of isolation from friends and more time at home has had a negative impact on mental health and placed strain on difficult family relationships.
Other issues are also present, such as, dealing with the negative effects of social media, a lack of formal education and increased risk of exploitation, making this a time where they are more in need of something to do and someone to listen than ever.
Youth workers have always had a presence in local communities and this has remained the case through each lockdown. Throughout the pandemic, youth workers have also acted as community ambassadors for doing the right thing for Warwickshire as they help to communicate key messages around COVID-19 to young people around social distancing, controlling the virus, protecting others and being asymptomatic.
Hollie Hutchings, Targeted Youth Support Team Manager at Warwickshire County Council said:
“During the pandemic, a lot of the young people that we have worked with have really struggled with their mental health because they haven’t been seeing their friends or they have a difficult home life. It has been even more important that we support young people throughout COVID-19 so that we can help them and also share information with them so that they can stay safe and protect others in the community around them.
“On the whole young people have been really pleased to see us and seemed to appreciate a youth worker asking how they are coping. Often we have been the only professionals that young people are having contact with, especially when they’re not at school.”
Cllr Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Warwickshire County council added:
“Throughout the latest lockdown, our youth workers are continuing to work tirelessly to do the right thing for young people and the wider community.
“They put young people at the heart of everything they do and they give them a voice and a place in their community and society as a whole by helping them to find confidence and life skills that they need to achieve their best.”
Residents might see youth workers engaging with young people out in streets and parks offering one-to-one support. Young people will know if they are approached by a Warwickshire County Council Youth Worker but anyone who is unsure can contact Targeted Youth Support by calling Children’s Social Care on 01926 428142 or emailing [email protected].
For more information on Warwickshire’s youth service, visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/youthservice
Young people and members of the community can also keep up-to-date with the support services available via Warwickshire’s youth service Instagram page @wcctargetedyouthsupport