Futures Project goes online!Lockdown has changed the way we interact with each other… the way we live, teach, learn and work. It has also changed how we do youth work; investing time with young people to develop new skills and supporting them to reach their full potential. Futures Project made the most of this challenge and didn’t hesitate in immersing itself on these new online and digital platforms. We put our creativity to the test, upskilled, learned from the experiences of others and have been getting feedback from our learners every step of the way.
Our current participants have been finishing their qualifications at home, doing weekly tasks and challenges for independent learning, participating in online sessions with staff, video calls and getting continuous support from their tutors and mentors. They’ve also been completing daily self care tasks to ensure they are looking after themselves, staying safe and staying sane during these challenging times!
‘There was a lot of variety of activities. The staff were very creative and innovative. It gave me something to do other than sleep and helped me keep in a routine.’ (Futures participant)
But it’s more than just setting activities. So many of our participants live on their own, perhaps with young children or may not have support at home. Lockdown for them may mean they are completely alone. A survey for Action for Children found that 43% of 17-24 year olds who access their services have experienced problems with loneliness; less than half of this group said they felt loved. Researchers have found that loneliness and poor social connections are as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes a day! Futures Online is about connection with the staff and their peers, giving young people something to look forward to, motivating them to get out of bed every day and being able to give them support when they need it.
‘It is a very supportive environment, the staff have helped me with any challenges I’ve faced and I also enjoy catching up with my partner from the group. It’s very friendly and laid back.’ (Futures participant)
The participants have discovered and nurtured new talents for singing, drawing, digital media, baking, cooking, art and craft. Some of them are using their time to gain work experience with essential keyworkers, volunteering with the NHS, using social media to promote positivity and encouragement and devoting time and effort into staying close to friends and family while maintaining social distancing.
One participant praised the programme for being very ‘accessible’ and it was this feedback that spurred us to consider an online programme as a permanent fixture of what Futures can offer. Young people, particularly in rural and coastal areas, often have limited access to mainstream youth provision and alterative training courses. Some young people are house-bound due to circumstances outside of their control or they can find it difficult to take advantage of evening classes or part time courses. As long as they have internet access, a smartphone and a ‘can-do’ attitude, Futures is now available to them. And given the phenomenal interest in our initial marketing for the online programme it’s clear that there is high demand for this kind of support for our young people.
Futures Online is launching on 25th May 2020 and a second cohort will begin in September 2020. Contact the Futures team at [email protected] or visit us on social media at @Futures4Youth to find out what we can offer you.
Futures is a project supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. (SEUPB)