The St Anthony’s Youth Education Service (known locally as “The Bostey”) supports children, young people and their families in Walker.  Further details are available from Helen Woods-Waters at h.woods-waters@anthonycareservices.org.uk.  In our 90th anniversary year, Holy Name members donated over £10,000 to this project.

What Are We Doing?

Following advice from the Government we decided to suspend all face-to-face delivery on the 13th March 2020.  This was not a decision we took lightly but we could not continue to encourage social gatherings and this is exactly what would have happened once the schools closed.  The safety of children, young people and their families as well as our staff and volunteers had to be our priority.

As you can probably imagine we were worried, scared and uncertain about how the Bostey could continue to deliver a service that requires daily contact with children and young people.

On the 16th March myself, Stacey and Steven spent the full day researching and discussing new ways that we could work.  We all knew that we still needed to provide ‘an offer’ so that we could continue to communicate with young people and the local community as well as find a solution to still keep providing positive activities.

This was a huge challenge to us not only because of the time pressure to produce something quickly so we could ensure we could still provide a service to our community but also because the children, young people and their families who we work with on a weekly basis found themselves in situations which could have quickly escalated and created even further problems.  We needed to let the community know that we were still around and available to help and support.

Our plan was to use the resources we already had access to, which was information from Bostey membership’s, the Bostey’s Facebook page, youth worker’s knowledge and relationships within the community and other partner organisations who we work with on a regular basis.

Firstly, we telephoned all of the parents/carers and grandparents who we had contact with (103) whose children were already attending Bostey sessions.  We wanted to find out what support they needed if any, how they were doing and what level of isolation their household was following. We have about 5 families who we work with where grandparents are the main care givers, who could potentially have to shield and totally self-isolate due to their age and health conditions.  We also wanted to gather feedback about the Bostey providing activity packs and home baking kits.

As a result of speaking with families we created a red, amber, green system which we work from weekly.  All families also receive a weekly “hello, how are you doing” message via our message service.

Red means a family receives a call twice a week, amber and green once a week.  Staff monitor all calls and record what is discussed.  Families can move about the system depending on how they are feeling and coping each time a youth worker speaks to them.  Many of the families we work with are receiving telephone support via other organisations especially schools but the families who wouldn’t “normally” require extra support are really grateful for this telephone call.  They often have lots of questions, so youth workers will ring them back with the answer if they aren’t sure at the time of the call.

We also keep people up-to-date with what is happening in the City and sign post them when needed. An example of information we have shared with parents is ensuring they all knew to take part in the online survey from Newcastle City Council to see if they can get support for home learning packs which could include a laptop and internet access.  We have encouraged families to explore whether they are entitled to free school meals.  We speak to local schools and find out information and pass it on.

Social Media

Alongside telephoning our families we wanted to reach out to the local community so we started to connect with people through Facebook offering fun interactive online games and activities and daily challenges (spot the difference, name the movies, how many animals and lots more).

This initiative has gone from strength to strength.  Staff are on online every evening usually between 5-9pm, depending on households as youth workers are working from home on an evening to provide this service.

We have had hundreds of messages and comments from both the young letting us know how much they have enjoyed being part of our FB community and that it has helped them stay connected as well as connecting with new people and trying things they wouldn’t normally do or try.

Below is a snap shot of some of the statistics we have been collecting since the 21st March 2020

  • 884 new friend requests
  • 150 request from under 18 year olds
  • 246 requests from under 25 year olds
  • 488 requests from over 25 year olds
  • 142 is the average number of comments per day on our Facebook Page
  • Easter drawing competition- 56 entries and 12 winners all who received a prize
  • Tik Tok competition- there was 64 entries and the community voted for a winner. We have over 200 The winning family received a prize.
  • Virtual Easter Bunny visit- which was viewed over 100 times and received 200 thank you comments.
  • 5 tutorials from youth workers- showing how to make things. Homemade watering can, stress balls, salt dough, scavenger hunts and Easter cards.
  • 153 pictures uploaded to our Facebook page from families who received bake packs.
  • 358 people have shared posts we have uploaded to our Facebook page.
  • 376 feedback comments regarding bake packs.
  • 65 feedback comments regarding activity packs that families have received.

Facebook Closed Groups

Young people’s groups via messenger and video messengers

Youth workers have created messenger groups, which represent some of the groups that we had running at the Bostey before social distancing and closures were introduced.  Girls and Boys groups, the Inbetweeners (ages 8-11 years) the Streets (11-14 years) we have also created a couple of ‘friendships groups’ which developed naturally through the young people talking to each other in the other groups.  Young people can access these groups anytime but youth workers are active in them between 5-9pm Monday-Sunday.  We know that some of our younger children do not have access to messenger and some parents/carers have reservations about allowing their child/ren to use this platform.  So we have passed on lots of “how to stay safe online” advice to parents so that they feel they have more information and more confident when making choices whether they let their child/ren use online platforms. We also have new ideas for sessions which I will explain more about later on.

Youth workers play games in the groups, they check on how everyone is doing, they encourage young people to share stories, they upload advice and information on many issue based topics. e.g. how to stay safe online, self-care advice.  They ask if the girls need sanitary products or other toiletries.  Youth workers ask for feedback and what the young people would like to do or see in their groups. The groups are really good for just chatting and keeping friendships going.

Starting the week commencing the 27th April youth workers have been and will continue to set young people weekly challenges to try and motivate them to take part in something, complete something and bring something to their group.

Baking Packs

Youth workers and 4 volunteers have delivered over 500 home baking kits to the local community over the last 6 weeks.  A post is posted on our FB page usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday and all the community have to do is comment “bake” on the post and private message us their address and they will receive a bake pack that week.

Each week the bake packs offer something different to cook.  In them you receive all the ingredients and the method to follow.  To-date the packs have included, bread buns, fairy cakes, chocolate chip biscuits, cheese scones, muffins and pizza’s. We have also provided equipment if families have needed it to be able to take part. We run regular Facebook polls to engage feedback from people and to vote for their favourites.

We have purchased an app which helps us co-ordinate the postcodes for deliveries. This has been amazing as its helps with the logistics when trying organise the deliveries of a 100 bake packs a week.

Donations

The CEO from the Children’s Foundation got in touch with us after a Walkers workers zoom meeting and offered to support us.  They have introduced us to the manager at Waitrose in Jesmond and they have donated over 200 hundred Easter eggs, 100 cereal boxes, 100 bars of chocolate and have committed to supporting us as and when they can with a variety of products from their store.  Children’s Foundation have also helped with delivering activity packs and provided us with a 100 paper bags for bake packs.

We will continue to work with Sean and Sue to secure more donations from department stores as they have the contacts through their own work.

Greggs outlet Welbeck Rd seen all the work we were doing on Facebook and got in contact with and wanted to help, they donate twice a week, usually sweet treats. Tuesday’s delivery is for Walker and Thursday is a delivery for Byker.

Again through our work in the community Morrison’s Byker got in touch with us and asked how they could help.  They are donating weekly, items include toiletries and non-perishable foods.

A local person donated 4 children’s bikes to us and asked them to be passed on to a family would be benefit from them.  Through a contact we have at the Newcastle and Gateshead CYPS. A young family from Walker who has several children with various special and educational needs received the bikes and was absolutely delighted and couldn’t believe how kind somebody had been.

We are also receiving weekly referrals from ‘social prescribing’ workers from surgeries in Walker and through the Newcastle City Council City Life Line request service.

Activity Packs

All of our Bostey members (103) received an activity pack on the 2nd week of lock down.    This pack included items such as paper, pens, pencils, glue, scissors etc.  Self-care cards and various arts and craft activities along with materials.   Bostey members will now receive an activity pack once every 3 weeks.  This gives youth workers time to create packs and source the relevant materials for age related activities.

Daily walk packs

Each week we make about 50 packs and put them at the Bostey’s front door.  People can just pick them up when they are out on the daily walk.

Items in the packs have ranged from colouring in packs for VE day celebrations, Easter drawing completion, everything you need to grow you own sunflowers, everything you need to make a friendship bracelets and lots more. We also include food treats with the packs that have been donated.

Networking

We continue to be a valued member of the Walker Workers group which has now moved online and has weekly zoom meetings. We support and offer advice and share our knowledge of the latest trends within the community and share how ideas on how we can support each other and families during these times. The meeting has a weekly agenda and included items such as food and the distribution of it, children and young people (including an update from a local school representative) vulnerable families and an update for all partners. representative

The local neighbourhood youth projects had also moved online to weekly zoom meetings.  We have discussed the different challenges neighbourhood youth projects are facing during these times and how projects have adapted their services to respond to their communities.

We have also caught up (via zoom) with representative from LGA fund and Sir James Knott.  We have talked to us about their position of being a grant giver during these times and about their concerns for future funding.

 Training

Staff have completed online training in the following courses; hand hygiene, food safety and COSHH.  We will continue to complete training as and when necessary.

Funding

We have applied for grant support from community foundation which we were successful and received 5k, the Crime Commissioner fund for 5k but were unsuccessful, the Tesco bag pack fund for 2k but were unsuccessful.  We are still waiting to hear from the CAF online fund and the Martin Lewis fund.  However, the time scales have now lapsed so I suspect we have been unsuccessful.

Walker Parish Church has donated 1k to our work.

We have received 4 additional donations from the local community totally £100 via PayPal, with messaging of thanks!  None of our regularly donators have cancelled their standing orders and 2 new people have signed up for regular monthly giving at £10 each.

Food parcels and referrals

We have registered 10 families to receive food hampers through Building Futures East COVID-19 emergency food bank and we continue to support them with food donations when we receive them.  Steven is also supporting St Anthony’s by driving Day Care staff who are delivering hot meals prepared at the centre to service users who are isolated in their homes following the suspension of the Day Service.

Planning and evaluating

Youth workers need time each week to be able to monitor and evaluate our work to ensure we are still meeting the needs of the community.

We are continuously asking the local community and our young people what they think of the current service that we are providing.  Is it still relevant and what else would like us to do?

It is also important that as well as monitoring and evaluation that youth workers have the time they need to plan and innovate responsive activities and projects that both meet the needs of the community and remain in line with changing Government guidance.

Shopping for the food packs, activity packs and other resources and materials takes a lot longer than usual.  This is also another reason why youth workers need time to plan ahead as you cannot just except to go to the shops and everything be available.  A lot of shopping is done on line so we need to think about delivery time etc.

Youth workers are sharing their working time between being centre based and working from home.

 New Ideas

As the current situation is changing all the time so is our thinking, we know we need to be prepared and we need to be planning ahead about how we can continue to provide a meaningful response to the issues our children, young people and local community are facing not just now but in the coming months.

Well-being Boxes

We know already through engagement with our teenagers that their mental health is suffering and they have anxieties about going back to school or not being able to go to sixth form or college.  Although we can find out the answers to these questions we need to provide activities, materials and ideas for young people to be able to learn to recognise and deal with their own worries.  A couple of years ago we did a project at the Bostey using the 5 ways to wellbeing concept and young people produced a booklet about the project and all the activities they had taken part in under all 5 headings.  Youth workers are planning to update this project and send it to our teenagers along with a well-being box full of goodies.

The box will include;

  • Worry jars (jar and paper and pens)
  • Diary
  • Herbal teas
  • Fluffy socks
  • Materials to make homemade stress balls
  • Wash bag
  • Bath bombs
  • A body brush
  • Soaps
  • Moisturizer for hands, face, and body
  • Dental care
  • Eye masks
  • Sleep mask
  • Face cloth
  • Sanitary products
  • Shaving foam
  • Hair gel

When social distances measures are reduced we can use the work that the young people have been doing to address any issues they were facing doing their lock down period. The wellness boxes will encourage good hygiene and self-care which are all helpful to help keep good mental health. Boxes will also include pocket size information leaflet with helpline telephone numbers on.

Zoom Time- future projects

We are currently exploring how we can provide “specialist” zoom session with various artists who we would normally work with at the youth centre and how to offer longer projects as well as one off taster sessions to new and existing children and young people.

We are talking to Skimstone arts to work out a way to re-introduce the arts awards sessions to young people.  As well as re-introducing online amination sessions via zoom and other arts based sessions.

We are talking to the neighbourhood youth projects about if and how we can use the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme for our children and young people as they have created so much stuff and taken part in such a different range of activities it would be a shame if this work wasn’t recognised.

We plan to extend our online cooking sessions to more 14 plus young people and encourage them to take the lead with our junior cooking sessions.

Ideas about how we can still have some sort of “summer holidays project” are being shared amongst staff.

Plans to create a radio/podcast with young people in partnership with Stars and Shadow cinema are already well under way and we hope to start something early June and continue over the summer.

We have applied for an artist in residence which if successful would start September 2020.

On Wednesday the 27th May at 9.30 am we are having a sponsored “Big Bostey Breakfast” Our aim is get 200 families to all have breakfast at the same time, take a selfie and upload to our FaceBook page.

 Opening up the Bostey

We are continuously keeping up to date with current Government guidelines and planning for the re-introduction of young people to our building.

 

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