One of our partners in Kent, Salus, has been supporting children, young people and families for over 20 years. As part of that, it delivers youth work in four different areas of Kent as a provider for the County Council – and works with our CAPs in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Snodland.
But the way Salus provides its services has changed dramatically since the Covid-19 outbreak.
Its youth clubs have now been replaced with virtual groups, with up to 20 online Zoom sessions each day for 8-19 year olds, covering everything from yoga and bicycle maintenance to baking, crafts and slime making.
The sessions are free and easy to book - and anyone can take part, subject to safeguarding procedures. More than 1,000 young people have now joined in and Salus also offers schools the option of booking out whole sessions for a class or year group, as a way of maintaining peer groups while isolating.
Salus successfully promoted the virtual sessions on social media, through schools and via Tunbridge Wells Social, a new community hub that has recently been set up to offer information, entertainment, tips on healthy living and advice on where people can get support if they are feeling anxious or lonely during the pandemic. Roxanne recorded a short video for the website which you can see here: https://twsocial.co.uk/videos/roxanne-from-salus
Salus also offers private sessions for members of individual youth clubs to meet up and chat, and youth workers also contact the most vulnerable young people for telephone, Zoom or text chats so they can talk about any issues that might be on their minds and share their struggles.
“We are very much led by what the young people want to do, says Roxanne Frost, who is Youth Services Manager for Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge & Malling. “And we hope that as well as being fun and inspiring, we’re getting across some important information about mental wellbeing and keeping safe during the pandemic. We’re now looking at the idea of online debates, and alcohol education could be part of that.”
“The virtual youth sessions have been amazingly popular,” adds Roxanne. “As well as those who regularly come along to our youth clubs, we’ve had lots of new young people sign up, which means we are now reaching new audiences. Of course, virtual sessions can’t replace the one-to-one work we do in our youth clubs, which we’ll re-open just as soon as we can. But they certainly have a place going forward, especially as we cover a lot of rural areas which can make it difficult for young people to physically attend. We’ve learnt a lot – many of us had never used Zoom before! But we’ll certainly be offering more online sessions in future.”