Working with young people remotely
Reflections from a year of online delivery: what works?
Best practice examples:
- Project ACE Sports began online delivery of a new sports session in January as part of our Getting Active programme. When they saw that some young people were struggling with engaging online, coaches spent time individually encouraging them to attend the group session, providing a reassuring and friendly face that the young people would recognise. The sessions are a mixture of football skills, fitness, nutrition (such as smoothie making together), and quizzes about sports and nutrition. They are now receiving more enquiries from outside the group, and have been attracting more young people throughout the programme. Although this is a challenging time to set up a brand new session, Allana has a refreshingly positive attitude, focusing on the benefits of remote delivery, such as providing an opportunity for coaches to think creatively about how to design engaging and fulfilling sessions.
- Wac Arts have created a youth-led interactive computer game called ‘Bare Peas’, with funding from Camden Can Innovation Fund back in 2019. The young people were involved in the design process; they wanted it to be a fully inclusive, accessible and fun game, offering something special for themselves and their peers to engage in. The game was scheduled to be taken ‘on tour’ in March 2020 but plans have been on hold due to coronavirus. In the meantime, the game has been adapted so that it can be controlled remotely, and young people can play with their peers on zoom. Development Manager, Genevieve said: “We’ve found that it still brings a lot of joy to the young people online!”
- AlexZ created an amazing Keeping it Wild Documentary about the importance of nature, wellbeing during lockdown. It was great to
see how even at a social distance they were able to adapt and make connections with one another.
- AUTUS created a 3D virtual world to teach people about conservation and how to make hedgehog houses, birdboxes, wildlife crossings and composters to support nature and wildlife. Their dedicated FLICKR Keeping it Wild page includes instructions on how you can make your own objects to save London’s Wildlife!
- Our Youth Board led some brilliant projects focusing on mental health during the pandemic. Check them out here and here.
Other opportunities and resources
Kazzum: Kazzum have lots of resources to engage different groups of young people in online sessions.
2-3 Degrees: One of our members has also created this useful resource for youth workers: ‘How to attract and engage young people online’
Youth Work Support: The new resource hub set up by UK Youth, NYA and The Mix provides a range of useful resources for youth work. This includes a list of resources for ways to stay connected and work with young people remotely.
The Mix: The Mix have a range of online tools and activities to support young people with problems they may be experiencing.
Scouts: Scouts have created the Great Indoors, a bank of engaging activities for young people to do with their families while they are staying at home.
Youth Sport Trust: Youth Sport Trust have some useful resources for young people to learn and stay active at home. We have collated a number of online physical activity resources for young people here. For more advice on how to deliver sport and physical activity online, see this resource from CIMSPA.
- Good Thinking is a website developed by Thrive London, the GLA and the NHS with lots of resources for all Londoners to support their mental health.
- Young Minds’ resources library is full of useful toolkits, publications, reports and policy information about children and young people’s mental health.
- Youth Access have also collated tips and resources for mental health and wellbeing.
Camera’s on or off?
- Consider asking each participant privately before the session about their set up and camera on/off preferences
- Brief volunteers, staff and employer partners about reasons why a young person might not have their cameras on – home environment, self-esteem, concentration, data and using a phone can all be reasons that make it difficult to have the camera on during activities
Guidance and safeguarding
We encourage all youth workers to carefully consider what new ways of working could mean for young people’s safety or wellbeing and to assess the risks of working with young people remotely.
- Ensure you have an online communications risk assessment and staff are trained in best practice and how to raise a safeguarding concern or disclosure
- Have a system for keeping volunteers, staff and young people ‘in sight’ when online
- If using social media or exchanging contact details, set guidelines/code of conduct/expectations and monitor as much as possible
- Ensure young people, volunteers or staff know how to ask for help if they need it e.g. a designated person to talk to if bullying occurs in a group chat between young people.
Inspirational Youth are working with schools and the community to deliver mindfulness and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sessions. They have moved sessions online, and are live-streaming to those children still in school and at home. This has been supported by community donations of laptops and tablets. Sessions incorporate martial art movements, mindfulness exercises and meditation. Inspirational Youth have a robust safeguarding strategy for online delivery:
- The Designated Safeguarding Lead attends all online group sessions.
- During sessions all attendance is recorded by the Safeguarding Lead, along with any safeguarding issues that may arise when online.
- All sessions are password protected and participants must sign into the session using their own name if they are not allowed access.
Our Membership Development Officers have written a blog with five practical ways you can adapt your provision to working digitally. You may also find these resources useful: