Youth Work Bulletin: now available!

COVID 19 Special Edition 2, 9 April 2020 



A word from our Board Chair

Keith Towler

We are now plunged into a public health crisis where the dependency we have on one another is central to our ability to ‘flatten the curve’, ease the pressure on our wonderful NHS and ultimately to save lives. At this time, the response of Youth Work across Wales has demonstrated its creativity, dedication and practicality of approach. As youth centres and projects have closed during lockdown we are seeing youth workers and youth support workers supporting the re-purposed schools, delivering free school meals, devising digital methods to make contact with young people and responding to their concerns, needs and requests for assistance.

Clearly, while we are finding new ways of working, these are strange and difficult times for us all, and the media coverage to date has focused largely on the impact on children, families, older people, and those who are vulnerable. But what about the impact on our young people? The young people that youth work is here to serve. How does it feel for them?

Vulnerability can take many forms and I confess to thinking about those young people who are homeless, those whose well-being relies on social interaction and contact with a trusted adult, those for whom their home is not that safe a place to be, those at risk of exploitation, those who are care experienced, those who suffer anxiety and stress, those in the secure estate, and those who are facing problems paying the rent and making ends meet.

Youth work is, of course, demonstrating its worth once again and stepping up to the challenge of supporting many of these young people during lockdown. However, as I have heard from many of you already, the youth work sector itself is feeling the strain and experiencing difficulty in maintaining levels of service and responding to increased demand. During this time, the Interim Youth Work Board and I are committed to supporting you in any way we can. We are engaging with sector representatives and pulling together their key questions, which we’ll begin attempting to answer in this newsletter – see FAQs section below, which we’ll continue to build on with each bulletin.

One thing I am clear on is that youth work, delivered by youth workers in both the voluntary and maintained sector, should be recognised as an essential key service, and not only during this time of crisis. And, while much effort has gone into strengthening it, its fragility as a sector is in sharp relief to the value it holds for young people.

Last week we held a meeting of the Interim Youth Work Board for Wales during which we agreed to suspend some of the work we were doing to focus our attention on the youth work sector’s response to Covid-19. One of the things we discussed was the need for better national co-ordination and support for local initiatives. An area in which the need for this type of support has become urgent is in relation to digital youth work. I am delighted, therefore, to tell you that the Digital Youth Transformation Network, the Digital Sub Group of the Interim Youth Work Board, have begun focusing their efforts in this area and more information is available in the article below. Please have a read, explore the links provided, and consider how you can contribute to their efforts

Another priority for the Board is direct engagement with, and messaging for, young people. As I mentioned above, much of the communication to date has been targeted at children and families. It is important that we communicate directly with young people during this time, to explain the steps they can take to protect themselves and others, and to respond to their concerns, particularly those who may feel marginalised or vulnerable. I know some work is already underway in the field. Colleagues in the Marketing Group will be working to provide a national Communications Framework in support of this work and more detail will be issued in future bulletins.

Young people themselves have a vital role to play in the response to Covid-19. Working in partnership, the Board intend to put mechanisms in place to ensure we not only hear the voice of young people but also find a way to respond to what they have to say.

To support all of these efforts, and those of the sector more widely, we intend to move to a fortnightly production schedule for the Bulletin, starting from today. Please encourage all members of your teams to sign up to receive the newsletter, and share as much as possible via your social media channels to ensure the bulletin reaches as many youth work volunteers, practitioners and managers as possible.

Of course, if this Youth Work Bulletin is going to prove its worth we are going to need contributions from you - examples of good practice, things you would like to share, or questions you would like answered. Please send all contributions to:

One last thought from me…it has been an absolute pleasure to see how youth work has not lost its sense of fun, and that it continues to recognise the importance of play even in times like these. From videos of youth workers playing ‘keepy uppy’ with toilet rolls (you know who you are … Grant) to providing fun quiz nights, music and singing workshops, exercise routines, art and craft ideas, and home-based creative hairdressing. Long may it all continue…

Keith Towler
Chair – Interim Youth Work Board for Wales

News from the Digital Youth Transformation Network

As Keith notes above, the third and maintained sectors have shown tremendous innovation by ramping up their use of digital and online methods to keep doing youth work in the face of the current pandemic. While this is a fantastic example of the sector’s resilience, it also brings new challenges. Organisations that are new to digital working are looking for advice on the best and safest ways to work online and those with existing good practice are doing their utmost to advise them against an ever-changing context that’s hard to keep up with.

That’s why the Digital Youth Transformation Network, has been asked by the Board to adapt its remit and become a point of national co-ordination for sharing information, resources, tools, training and guidance on digital youth work as a response to the restrictions caused by Covid19.

One of our first actions has been to adopt a new information sharing platform developed by Nathan Williams of ProMo Cymru. This website will be used to hold the resources we gather or develop and to avoid duplication across our various organisations.

Our first ask of you is to help us answer two questions by using this simple form on the website.

1. What services are your organisation still providing?
We know youth workers provide vital support to young people to help maintain their wellbeing, health and happiness but also that much of this done face to face has stopped. Universal support services such as Meic and Childline are still operating their help lines but are not sure what local support they are able to refer into. Please let us know so we can pass to them.

2. What online methods are you using?
While members of the Network are all happy to support and give advice, we’re also sure there are other organisations and individuals out there in Wales with expertise to contribute. Let us know if you’d be able to join in and help support the sector as we all adapt to this new way of working.

Members of the Network come from all parts of the youth work sector in Wales and include representatives from the Urdd, local authorities, Swansea MAD, CWVYS and ProMo Cymru. We’re now holding weekly video meetings to make sure we can keep up with the pace of developments.

As Chair and enthusiastic member of the Network, I’ve been incredibly impressed by the talent and generosity of the group in terms of their willingness to share their time, knowledge and expertise.

Please take a look at the website, feed in any information you have and keep an eye out for updates.

Dusty Kennedy, Member of the Interim Youth Work Board for Wales

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Are Youth Workers able to be identified as key (critical) workers?

A: The list of key (critical) workers is available here. It is a sector based list and, depending on what work they are doing, a youth worker can be identified within the scope of a number categories (e.g. as a specialist education professional or worker delivering key frontline services). There are no immediate plans to revise these categories, however, we ask that you get in touch via the mailbox if there are practical problems being experienced on the ground.

Q: Where can I access financial support for volunteering activities?

A: The Voluntary Services Emergency Fund is part of the Welsh Government’s Third Sector Covid-19 Response Fund which was announced on 27 March 2020. The fund is for voluntary organisations with costs associated with the increase in volunteering activities and adapting service needs in response to Coronavirus. This fund will ensure that voluntary organisations have the resources needed to deliver vital services for their communities at this time. More information is available here

There are also a range of other options available for consideration and voluntary sector organisations are encouraged to contact their representative or membership organisations for further information. 

Q: I’m receiving funding to deliver specific activity, will my funder be flexible during this period?

A: It is difficult to provide a comprehensive response here given the wide range of funding streams supporting youth work activity in Wales. It is of course our hope that all funders will carefully consider their expectations of the funding they provide during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are aware of a number publicly stating their intention to do so. Where you have specific concerns you are encouraged to contact your funder directly and/or discuss with your representative organisation.

Wherever possible, Welsh Government will take a flexible approach to funding arrangements during this period. These will be considered on a case by case basis and you should get in touch with your lead official to discuss further if you are in receipt of funding to deliver specific youth work activity/approaches.

Q: What is furlough and what does it mean for me/my organisation?

A: Furlough is a way of an employer keeping staff on the payroll if they are unable to operate or if there is no work for them to do because of the current situation with Covid-19. This means you could get paid 80% of your wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. Guidance on what this means for you as an employer, or an employee is available through the links below 


In addition to the valued support you are providing to young people, it is important to know that there are also other ways for them to get help and advice. If you aren’t already, you may wish to consider making them aware of the Meic helpline - see below for a summary of what is on offer to young people:

Meic is the helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales. From finding out what’s going on in your local area to help dealing with a tricky situation, Meic will listen even when no-one else will. We won’t judge you and will help by giving you information, useful advice and the support you need to make a change.

Freephone 080 8802 3456
Text 84001

CWVYS Regional Social ZOOM Meetings

CWVYS Regional Social ZOOM Meetings will be held every fortnight for voluntary youth work organisations. During this unprecedented COVID-19 period, CWVYS believes it is important to reach out, connect and support their members.

The meetings will provide a supportive space for the sector to:

• keep in touch with each other
• support and share knowledge and information
• communicate to others the concerns and issues from the sector
• and a bit of fun

Contact Catrin James to receive the joining details to join the meeting in your region:

Central South and South East Wales - 16/4/20 – 10am to 11am
North Wales – 17/4/20 10am to 11am
South West and Mid Wales -17/4/20 2pm to 3pm

Useful Links

Welsh Government Coronavirus (Covid-19) pages

Welsh Government has published frequently asked questions about safeguarding and supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic. These questions will be updated weekly. Link here  

Information on the Live Fear Free helpline with advice on staying safe during the coronavirus emergency. Please share with your young people. Link here

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