Message from Keith Towler - COVID 19

March 2020


A word from our Board Chair

Keith Towler

Keith Towler, Chair of the Interim Youth Work Board.

On behalf of the Interim Youth Work Board, Welsh Government, and the many people I’ve spoken to in recent days, I wanted to get in touch to applaud you for all you are doing to support our young people during this period of tumultuous change. I am in awe of how quickly and efficiently you have responded both on the ground and through digital means, adapting your services to remain connected and to reach our most vulnerable young people. Your efforts are phenomenal and I want you all to know we are giving careful consideration to how we can best support you to keep doing what you are doing.

What this means initially is that, in recognition of the need to free up resources for frontline work at this time, we have taken the decision to suspend the work of the Youth Work Strategy Participation Groups until the situation with the Coronavirus is clearer, and it is a better time for us to be focusing on policy. However, the Digital Sub Group have kindly volunteered to continue meeting and this will be with a view towards providing expert support to the sector as we collectively explore how digital tools can be maximised. Alongside them, the Youth Work Marketing Group will also continue to meet in order to assist the sector with effective communications activity.

During this difficult time, it is more important than ever for us to remain connected, to share resources and to work together. Over the next few weeks, we intend to share key messages with you and your colleagues about things happening around Wales, any helplines, resources or online tools that become available and any good practice that is emerging. We know there is a risk of information overload at the moment so we’ll be doing our best to make it as streamlined and useful as possible.

To help inform our approach, we’d like to hear from you about what is happening on the ground. We also want to know what questions you may be grappling with so we can work with our partners to help you find answers. So please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have stories or approaches you want to share or questions you are struggling to answer. These should be directed to We will post responses and share your updates via this newsletter initially while we give thought to other ways of sharing information.

I know that locally, regionally, and even nationally, many of you are stepping into different roles as you support the response to Covid-19 and again, I applaud you for these efforts. I also know that many of you are struggling with very real issues about the sustainability of your roles and organisations during these uncertain times. While I can’t promise answers to all your concerns, at least not initially, I want to reassure you that members of the Board are working closely with Welsh Government officials and a range of partners across and beyond Wales and will do our best to keep you up to date as things progress.

Welsh Government is concerned about safeguarding and vulnerable children and young people at this time, including those who are supported by the youth service. A vulnerable children and safeguarding workstream has been set up which is working on a cross government basis to ensure that measures are in place. They are working on an FAQ document which will be issued next week and which will continue to be updated. We will share those FAQs with you as soon as they are available.

During this period of enforced distancing, and in some cases isolation,, youth workers have a vital role to play in keeping our young people safe, well informed and connected. I urge you to work collaboratively at all levels to make best use of available resource in support of all our young people. The Board and I are committed to supporting you in any way we can.

Stay safe everyone and keep in touch. Please share this bulletin as widely as possible and encourage your colleagues to sign up via the link below.

Please check here for latest advice from PHW on COVID19 and the importance of maintaining appropriate social distancing measures in all your work

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