By now, most of you reading this will have probably cancelled youth group meetings, youth clubs and detached sessions, today I have suspending normal operations and trying to organise responses to this crisis. And it has crossed my mind, that as someone who is used to a youth work office, the regular face to face contact of young people, the delivery, then removing this, and there energy that this brings is likely to feel like a loss, a grief. Face to face is what we do, mostly isnt it.. but not now… not for a few weeks – so – what can you do now – assuming that you’re now working from home – should this be possible. Heres 25 suggestions:
- Make a list. No seriously. Make a list of all the things that you are going to do, things you have been putting off because its been too busy.
- Take a moment. Breathe. Now look at that list, and think – the most important thing right now is to look after myself. Yes, youth worker reading this, who gives countless hours of physical and emotional time, this is time to stop. You are human like everyone else.
- Maintain some contact with young people via other methods, though ask their permission first – also ask how regular they would like to be contacted – might be a time to be creative and set up a youth club WhatsApp group or something…
- Think about the other equivalent people in your role in the local community, youth workers, community workers, clergy even, and suggest keeping in touch and support each other, and check in now and then.
- Maybe even suggest that you could have local response meetings via online video software
- Have lengthy chats with other youth workers on the phone, share ideas, reflect and build community and networks – time to help each other out a bit…
- Read a book. No. Read many – and a tip – read books on youthwork that you usually put off or might be for a role you dont do, like supervision or management – read ahead of the direction you might be going in. Now may be the time to read – maybe even set up a virtual reading group as youth workers
- See all that admin that you were putting off? well..- not going to tell you how to suck eggs – but now is the time to reflect on your practices – and you have the time to do so in depth.. think about:
- The plans, planning, aims and objectives
- The values, principles and purposes of what you do
- How you record and monitor the work – do the session reviews need updating? (now might be the time)
- Is this the time to consider the training needs of staff and volunteers? and do something about this, by writing up some guidance or training
- What about evaluation? are you doing this ? is this a time to think about this process more?
- Think about how you support others – what needs reflecting on in terms of volunteers, supervision, recruitment and their involvement?
- Basically, now might well be the time to look at what you do, and some of processes of the planning, reflecting and evaluation can be thought through and developed.
- Is now the time to update the website? – yeah possibly..
- Funding reports? yeah I know… – but a funding strategy might be worth developing now – develop streams of funding, and get things set up
- Maybe its time to think about the overall approach of what you do – have you started to see the signs of boredom in young people – have you started running out of ideas- are you drained? – then maybe there’s an approach shift required – and this might be the time to give it some thought
- It could be a good time to have one to one conversation with young people – if you call them, then you might be able to ask them some really interesting questions, feedback on the youth activity agreed, but also about how they are, what they perceive the needs are locally – it might be an opportunity to recover some listening/research into the project – that you might have lost
- Read a book – yeah – honestly, saying it again as its worth saying twice. – Suggestions of mine below.. do add your own…
- Write a guest post for this blog? – youve been putting that off? – but go on share your story, case study, question – it might help others
- Whether planned or accidental, if you can, stop a bit, and do what you can to make the most of the time, it could be an opportunity, and yes I might not be saying this in three weeks time..
- Im sure there’s an admin task you hadn’t got around to that’s lurking around at no 23 of a 25 point list, insert it here______________
- its tidying all the junk you have kept?. isnt it. you dont need it. I dont honestly need copies of Youthwork magazine 1999….though they were useful a few years ago
- Although no one quite knows when normality will return – but making some of the good use of this time may at least prepare you for it.
- And you. Again. Look after you, busy, stressed, youth and community worker – yes, keep doing what you can, and maybe even get involved locally with supporting neighbours and friends… but… you are important – focus on you. Maybe take some time and seek out someone to have a deep chat with – more than practice supervision – but to share and get stuff off your chest, maybe this is a time to focus on the personal you, the you and your self awareness, and who you are – this crisis might be the making of you. (no trust me on this)
You probably have a billion and one other things too… its weird that when some of the urgent stuff about delivery leaves the task list, its hard to focus or remember about the rest.. and that’s partly why I’ve written these above – they might be useful for you as a gentle prod. Most of the time we dont do these important things because were too busy – but when were not busy they can still be forgotten…
Official guidance from NCVO on the coronavirus is here:
Oh and – book suggestions here please – to encourage others… my recent favourites include:
Poverty safari – Darren McGarvey
Utopia for Realists – Rutger Bregman
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Out of Control- Natalie Collins
The man you’re made to be – Martin Saunders
Notes on a nervous planet – Matt Haig
Critical issues in youth work Management – John Ord
please put yours below: