Youth Work Bulletin - COVID19 - 23th April 2020

COVID 19 Special Edition 3,  23 April 2020


A word from our Board Chair

Keith Towler Image

As we all become accustomed to this new reality, with many of us scrambling to become familiar with social media channels and digital platforms, I have been reflecting on the particular challenges we face as a youth work sector. Youth workers are often the first port of call for young people when times are hard, or when they need advice or practical assistance, and I have had a number of discussions recently about the worrying impact of lockdown on our young people, which will only grow as the lockdown is extended. As this demand for our services increases, we need to ensure we continue to maintain safe and trusted relationships with young people as we move online and work in new ways

I remain incredibly impressed by the speed at which youth workers have adapted to the current circumstances, and the growing bank of innovative practice that is being developed as the sector reaches out to our young people.

However, with innovation can come additional risk and it is therefore in this context that this edition of the bulletin will focus on safeguarding. It is important to remember that the All Wales Safeguarding Procedures should continue to guide your work with young people during this extraordinary time, but it is the practical application of these procedures as we move into new spaces that call on us to examine our practice and ensure they are being followed. Working with sector representatives we have pulled together a series of articles on this theme to provide you, as practitioners, with up to the minute guidance and support.

From discussions over recent weeks, I am also aware that many of you are finding this new way of working quite challenging. It is important that this is recognised and addressed so that, as well as the needs of our young people, we remain mindful of the need to have support mechanisms in place to support our front line staff. During lockdown you might find yourself in a situation where you have a window into someone’s front room, his or her bedroom, or their home. And this is a two-way mirror. You will be observing and engaging in a way that might feel new and which can make even experienced practitioners under confident. This raises issues for managers to consider when they conduct individual supervision sessions and facilitate reflective practice with their team.

I hope you find this edition helpful. My hope is that we can use this regular bi-weekly publication to raise issues and to enter into dialogue. So as ever please do get in touch with the things that are on your mind, any examples of good practice you would like to share, and ideas on what you would like to see covered in future bulletins by emailing

Stay safe everyone … young people in Wales need you more than ever during this time.

Keith Towler
Chair – Interim Youth Work Board for Wales

Not such a new world after all

Nick Hudd, Senior Youth Work Practitioner at Pembrokeshire County Council with a reminder of the importance of remembering the basics.

“The use of digital technologies, remote working from our own homes and the challenge of being in separate physical environments are testing our existing skills, whilst encouraging us to hastily develop new ones. Although the youth work sector finds itself adapting to a predominantly new digital offer, safeguarding principles remain the same. The systems previously used to report safeguarding and welfare concerns are still functioning. A mistake we could make in these unprecedented times, is attempting to be something we are not; Counsellor, Social Worker; working beyond our own skills set.

Youth workers develop and use trusting relationships with young people to signpost on to others. We would not refer young people to any individual or organisation that had not been professionally scrutinised. This principle should remain the same when directing young people to online resources. Yes, the tools we use have changed but our underlying principles have not.”

Safeguarding – What you need to know

During the COVID-19 outbreak, new arrangements are in place to respond to the challenges facing services and those they support. It is crucial that everyone working with children and young people has clear information about how to report a safeguarding concern. Safeguarding remains a priority area of service for Social Services and Children’s Social Services (0-18 years), Adult Social Services (18 years plus) and out of hours Emergency and Duty teams remain open.

  • Fears about sharing information should not be a barrier to safeguarding and promoting the well-being of people at risk of abuse or neglect. Every practitioner must take responsibility for sharing the information they hold, and cannot assume that someone else will pass on information, which may be critical to keeping a child or young adult safe.
  • If you receive information from a young person or from someone else that they are at risk, you must pass these concerns on as soon as you can.
  • In order to report a safeguarding concern it is important to try and record the following information about the young person: Name, Age, Address, reason for reporting (what is your concern).
  • Every service should have an identified Designated Safeguarding Person. Current circumstances mean that that person may change as people need to self-isolate. Make sure you know who the Designated Safeguarding Person for the day is for your service. You should contact this person to discuss your concern and they will help make the decision about reporting a young person as at risk. If you cannot contact the Designated Safeguarding Person you must report your concern yourself- do not delay.

Links to the Safeguarding Board webpages, with contact information to report a concern are available here

You can also phone the Police on 101. However, if you believe that a young person is at immediate risk of harm you must phone the Police on 999.

You can find more information here: 

Information sharing to safeguard people

Reporting a child at risk  (up to 18 years of age)

Reporting an adult at risk  (over 18 years of age)

There are a number of All Wales Practice Guides on specific safeguarding issues for children up to the age of 18 years, including one on safeguarding children from online abuse. 

Top Tips when moving online.

Mel Ryan (Youth Cymru), David Williams (Torfaen Youth Service) and Marco Gil-Cervantes (ProMo Cymru) have produced some tips for working safely online

It's important to remember that when working online, the Wales Safeguarding Procedures still apply. It can be helpful to reflect upon what you would do offline and apply it in your new context. For example, if you were meeting a young person face to face you would carry out a risk assessment, you would go with a second person, and a colleague would be appraised of the duration, purpose and outcome of the contact.

Below are some tips and things to think about to help you safeguard yourself and young people when online:

  • Remind young people of existing safeguarding and confidentiality procedures.
  • Do you know what steps you are going to take if a disclosure is made or you have a concern?
  • Do you know what support is available for the young person and yourself?
  • Ensure that you only use professional contact points (phone and social media) when engaging with young people.
  • Do not post anything that could put you or a young person at risk.
  • Agree ground rules with young people at the start of your online connection
  • Make sure the young people know you will only be contactable between certain times.
  • Turn location settings off and put on a background so as to not reveal your location.
  • Be clear – let young people know what they can contact you for. Then be prepared for the unexpected.

NSPCC resources and helpline


NSPCC has compiled a list of resources to support your work with young people and their families during this challenging period.

This includes advice on how to have difficult conversations about coronavirus; information on how to spot signs of abuse and neglect while social distancing; and bilingual resources to help adults respond to children disclosing abuse.

The NSPCC Helpline remains fully operational during this period with trained professionals on hand to talk through your concerns about any child, give expert advice and take appropriate action to protect the child. Call them on 0808 800 5000 or email

Notion resource goes from strength to strength

The Digital Youth Transformation Network, on behalf of the Interim Youth Work Board, continue to add resources to the Notion site to support the youth sector to work better through the use of digital approaches. This is a collaborative resource, enriched by contributions from the sector. Please submit any useful links and information you have directly through the platform - Link here

Of particular interest this week is the guide produced by Barnardos on using WhatsApp with young people and the guide from Caerphilly Youth Service on best practice when using Zoom video conferencing with young people. Links here

Sign up for Pro-Mo-Cymru’s Creating Conversations Webinars

ProMo-Cymru is hosting the next of their Creating Conversations Webinars on Thursday 30th April at 13:30-14:15. They’ll be looking at how social media algorithms work and how these can be used to our advantage.

The signup link isn’t live yet, but keep an eye on their Twitter page for the latest.

If you’ve missed any of the previous four webinars – which looked at online conferencing, messaging apps for young people, social media trends and creating videos from home- you can catch up here.

Meic – more information on what’s available

This article provides more information on the support provided by the Meic service in helping to safeguard our young people.

  • The service is available from 8am to 12 Midnight, 7 days a week.
  • Support is available on a range of issues including mental health, relationships, housing and rights-based issues (young voice, choice and control)
  • The service is staffed by a team of Helpline Adviser Advocates (HAAs) from a range of backgrounds, including careers, youth service, social services, legal and the teaching profession.
  • The team is trained in ASIST (suicide prevention) as well as coaching, solution-focused intervention, restorative practice, youth mental health first aid and safeguarding and is therefore well placed to offer first line support.
  • There are extensive internal resources supporting HAA’s knowledge to inform 3-way transfer, signposting, referrals and links to on line and face-to-face support - direct to young people and professionals.
  • An on call duty system provides support to the HAAs with clear protocols and pathways where there is threat to life and historic or current risk of harm involving the duty system, the police and social services.
  • Contact details: Tel 080880 2345; Text 84001; Instant Message and access to videos, resources, articles via

#AskAYouthWorker and the importance of maintaining reflective practice during these strange days

Geraint Turner, Programmes and Partnerships Director at Swansea MAD has written in to let us know about the #AskAYouthWorker initiative; an opportunity for young people and professionals to engage with qualified youth work professionals through Twitter and Instagram.

This is a collaborative initiative with youth work practitioners drawn from a variety of organisations providing an hour a week each of social media engagement.

The service has been well received but the professionals involved have recognised the need to come together and reflect on their interactions and engagements. This safe space, utilising video conferencing software, enables the group to share their work in a supportive setting. Geraint feels that whilst it’s easy to skip reflective practice sessions when faced with a crisis situation, its importance in supporting the wellbeing of your staff is paramount.

Practitioners can access more information on how to organise and support reflective practice here.

CWVYS Regional Social ZOOM Meetings


Following the success of the first series of CWVYS Regional Zoom meetings, with 38 CWVYS members attending, the dates for the next series are now available. The next series of CWVYS regional ZOOM meetings will concentrate on safeguarding and training. Contact Catrin James to receive the joining details to join the meeting in your region: -

Central South and South East Wales - 30/4/20 – 10 to 11am

North Wales – 1/5/20 10 to 11am

South West and Mid Wales -1/5/20 1pm to 2pm

CWVYS meetings aims provide a supportive space for the sector to: -

  • keep in touch with each other
  • spotlight on key themes, e.g. training, funding, safeguarding
  • support and share knowledge and information
  • communicate to others the concerns and issues from the sector
  • and a bit of fun

Covid-19 ETS Guidance

A number of colleagues have raised queries about the potential effects of the COVID-19 outbreak particularly on fieldwork placements in JNC recognised Youth and Community Work training programmes. Please see the following advice from ETS Wales for the HE Sector and FE Sector

Welsh Women’s Aid resources for young people on healthy relationships

Welsh Women’s Aid has developed a series of posters on the topic of maintaining healthy relationships during COVID-19. 

The information is targeted specifically at teenagers signposting them to age-appropriate support and advice to keep them safe during this period of self-isolation.  Follow this link to their website to access the posters online:

Papyrus HopelinkUK


PAPYRUS is the national charity dedicated to preventing young suicide. The organisation operates HOPELINEUK, providing free and confidential support and advice for both young people experiencing thoughts of suicide and those who may be worried about a young person.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK and every year, many thousands more attempt or contemplate suicide or suffer alone, afraid to talk openly about how they are feeling. In the current climate, there is a concern that those at risk will be struggling at being isolated from friends, affected by relationship breakdowns and potentially unable to access their normal support services. We’d be grateful for your help in promoting the service to young people and families you are in contact with.   

HOPELINEUK is open 9am – 10pm Monday to Friday and 2pm – 10pm during weekends and bank holidays.

Call – 0800 068 4141

Text – 07860 039967

Email –

A message from the Minister for Education

Kirsty Williams - Live Fear Free

Click on the image above to see Kirsty Williams Twitter video

Live Fear Free - Kirsty Williams - Twitter

Please share this video message from the Minister which outlines specialist support available for people experiencing domestic violence and abuse. The Live Fear Free helpline is a service that is available 24 hours a day, offering support and advice by trained counsellors. Please share with your networks and continue to promote the service to any young people you are in contact with.

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  

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