This week marks a year since the UK started to feel the full impact of the pandemic.
One year on and we, like many other people across the world, are living in a very different world. However, we haven’t let Covid stand in the way of our mission: to support and inspire children and young people to improve their life opportunities for a better future.
There is no doubt that this has been a tough year, however we wanted to take this opportunity to think of the positives, from finding new ways to support young people to finding new ways to support each other.
First and foremost, a very special thank you to our amazing team who have all gone above and beyond to continue supporting children and young people who have needed us more than ever before. From those who were furloughed or worked reduced hours, to those who worked throughout; every single person played a part in making a difference.
When the pandemic hit we had to find new ways to deliver. Much of our work moved online and we began supporting young people via video calls, messages, and calls. We digitalised a lot of our processes, and we are now more aware of the tools available to us.
“It’s made our work more efficient, and it makes it easy to arrange meetings with people who work in different offices.”
Moving our work online opened up a lot more avenues for us to work with more people in different ways. Families Together have been able to run more NVR courses for people across the county rather than creating groups based on location. Step Forward has run a Virtual Monday Night Group every week which has meant that those who are unable to travel are able to easily join in the activities.
“I have learnt that virtual meetings can be just as effective. They save time, money and are better for the environment. Moving forward its likely they will still be used on some occasions.”
As restrictions eased and changed, we were able to go for walks with young people and utilise our outdoor learning work to support young people across our projects. This means that more and more young people are becoming aware of the positive benefits of spending time outdoors.
“Since the pandemic we have been going on more walks with young people. They give the opportunity for young people to 'open up' in a less intense environment. I have noticed a pattern over the last year that young people are sharing their traumas during walks. These types of conversations are less likely to occur in settings such as residentials, trips and home visits.”
Impact, which works with Looked After Children, moved to our Forest School Site at Itchen Valley Country Park. This was such a huge success that we will continue to deliver sessions there in the future.
Over the last year we have been overwhelmed by the support our supporters have shown us. From the grants we have received for our new Outdoor learning Centre to the Individual donations we have received from supporters through our We Care Appeal. In total you raised over £11,000 to support Care Leavers who were struggling as a result of the pandemic by supplying food parcels, educational resources, and support. To everyone that has joined our online events or bought a raffle ticket, to our fundraisers who have signed up to our skydive or asked people to donate to us in lieu of birthday presents, your support has been phenomenal.
Thank you so much for your support over this last year. We appreciate it more than you know.
Working as a Team
With staff working all over Hampshire, we needed to find a way to keep in contact for work, but also socially. We set up weekly management meetings, something we didn’t do before, and made a WhatsApp group that includes the whole team so that we could share photos and stories from across our projects. This has become a group where people share ideas and ask for support, as well as a great place to share the updates that make their way to our social media pages.
“Being able to see and share the difference that our amazing team are making to the lives of children and young people has a been an absolute pleasure. Even in the hardest times we have had a daily reminder of why we are here and the difference we make. It’s a great way to stay connected as a team, celebrate successes and support each other”
As an organisation staff wellbeing has always been a priority, however this became even more important over the last year. Our staff conference this year focused on mental wellbeing with each member of staff receiving a wellbeing pack complete with chocolates and treats. We have been making time to catch up with each other for ‘tea breaks’ and making calls to check in and make sure that we are here for each other.
The last year has also bought about a lot of positives for us personally. Its slowed us down, allowed time for reflection and goal setting, and made us realise there are some great things to do and see right on our doorsteps. It has showed us what’s important, and never again will we take a hug or a handshake for granted.
And of course… how could we forget the huge positive of being able to spend more time with these guys 😊