Youth Work Bulletin - COVID19 Special Edition - 28th May 2020

COVID 19 Special Edition 5, 28 May 2020


A word from our Board Chair

Keith Towler

Keith’s voice

One of the great strengths of youth work is that it allows young people to participate in the decisions that affect them. Building on this participation, young people are enabled to find their voice, formulate and convey their ideas, develop autonomy, build skills, make friends and have fun. This principle of participation underpins youth work activity and makes it so valuable to young people. I am therefore very pleased to introduce a bulletin that has participation as its special focus. Even now, as we are forced to work at incredible pace, participation must be one of the core principles that continues to guide our work.

And, as many of you will know, this participatory approach is something that we have extended to the development and delivery of our Youth Work Strategy for Wales and it’s supporting Implementation Plan. Co-developed with young people and you, the youth work sector, it has provided the shared vision that has driven all of our work since last summer. Through its delivery we have established Strategy Participation Groups (SPGs) and special focus Sub-Groups made up of young people, volunteer and paid professional youth workers, and other partners. Together, they have taken ownership for working alongside the sector towards our shared ambitions for youth work in Wales.

But where are we now? Earlier this year we took the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the work of most of these groups. This was done to preserve the capacity of group members to work directly on the frontline as part of the youth work response to Covid-19 and I remain especially proud of their, and your, collective efforts. What this means for the Board though is that we may have to look again at the timelines for producing our final recommendations – after all, what we may once have recommended may look significantly different once we account for the impact of, and build on the learning developed by the sector in response to, Covid-19.

It also means we are currently dedicating our thinking to how we support the sector during this crucial time. Supported by the Digital and Marketing Sub-Groups this has manifested in these more regular bulletins populated with content developed by youth workers and organisations within Wales. But we have also been engaged in strategic discussions and, working with our partners, are starting to actively consider what the youth work world should look like as we move out of the current public health crisis and begin increasing the operation of youth work services.

Please rest assured we will not take this task lightly or rush into anything. Any re-opening of face to face youth work provision must be carefully considered, take account of overarching guidance and scientific advice, and align closely with other public services. Youth Work must continue to contribute to the national effort and strategy to fight the spread of COVID-19, and any steps we take must be consistent with the Welsh Government’s overarching framework for decision-making.

To do all this we will continue to rely on you; your knowledge, experience, and advice remain essential to our ability to steer youth work’s ship, including in response to Covid-19. It will also require us to reinstate some of the work of our sector-led participatory groups when the time is right. But, even before that, we must first go back to our guiding principles and ensure young people’s participation in our strategic approach. I therefore hope to update you all shortly with our plans for doing just that.

Stay safe.

Keith Towler, Chair – Interim Youth Work Board for Wales

Young Person’s voice


Young Person’s voice

By Mared Edwards, Member and Vice-president of the Urdd

I am a student at Aberystwyth University studying Welsh and Drama in my second year. Originally from Anglesey, I have been a member of the Urdd Youth Forum since the age of fifteen and have benefited enormously from the experience.

I am now vice-president of the Urdd and over the past year have been fortunate enough to have a part-time job as a youth officer for the Urdd in Ceredigion. My main duty with that post was to be responsible from the Youth Forum and the county ambassadors.

I have therefore had direct experience of running a forum and being a member.

My experience

I was chairman of the forum in Anglesey for a year and the best thing about that was to have responsibility for holding all the meetings and being involved in all the discussions. One thing I think is important in a forum is to hold elections and choose a chair, a secretary etc. It places a duty on us, the young people and is a great way to develop the skills of collaboration and communication.

It is important to keep the meetings informal.  For me, the best thing about the meetings was to sit around a table, eating pizzas and crisps with my friends discussing things that were relevant to our age, i.e. organising gigs, thinking about ways to raise money, choosing charities to support throughout the year. We, the young people, must be allowed to make decisions for ourselves. Giving young people the opportunity to voice their opinions, and perhaps hold a few debates, develops their confidence and I believe that is so important for their future in contributing to discussions, particularly in the workplace.

Forum Organisation Experience

My aim with the forum in Ceredigion was to listen to what the Forum had to say and to try to support them in going about what they wanted to do. Before each meeting I would liaise with the Chair and discuss what they wanted to have on the agenda. Occasionally, inviting a guest speaker or arranging a short course such as first aid, an art workshop or other activities is a good way of adding something new and exciting as well as providing additional opportunities for members. And then weaving in a short meeting at the end and discuss what they would like to do next time.

I believe that in arranging too many meetings it would be easy for them to get a little boring. Clearly with an examination period between May/June it is very likely that meetings will not be able to take place during these times. Maybe for the final meeting before the exam period you could discuss different ways of revising and how to relax and emphasise how important it is to talk to their friends if they are struggling.

For me these are the things that encouraged me to continue with the forum, enjoy the meetings and make the most of every opportunity.

Special Focus : Participation

Each bulletin we focus in on a specific theme. In this issue the focus is on Participation

Youth Participation during the Covid Crisis - reflections by Rhiannon Bennett and Maisy Evans (Welsh Youth Parliament representative for Torfaen).

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states: ‘Young people have the right to have a say on issues that matter to them’. Participation is essential during this time of uncertainty to help young people become aware of, and understand the decisions the Government is making in relation to the Covid-19 crisis. By working with partners, Torfaen Council is able to share key messages with young people, encouraging them to engage in discussions to ensure these messages are understood. There have been some great examples via the Gwent Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) where young people have created #StayinforGwent messages to share with their peers. This youth-led action provides a powerful message to others. The increase in online youth engagement has also offered significant opportunities to engage with wider groups of young people.

During this challenging time, the ways in which we work must be tailored to individual needs, which is proving to be a challenge in itself. Young people are being asked to work in new ways, requiring new skills. Youth Workers are being asked to support young people in ways nobody quite understands – the question is; how much support can you give at this time and crucially, how? With Covid-19 having a direct impact across the country, it is of paramount importance that teachers and Youth Workers engage with every individual they can reach. Ways of doing this may include; utilising technology, including social media. Understandably, this may not be possible for everybody and therefore the keys to engaging with young people during this time are patience and understanding. Be patient in working with young people because they may not have constant access to resources. Be understanding of how they are being affected.

The National Participation Standards for Children and Young People (Wales) is a set of 7 Standards that lay out what children and young people should expect from the services they access. For participation to be effective, services need to implement systems, processes and opportunities for young people to both have their say and vitally, to have their views heard. The Standards are underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, which puts the involvement of children at the heart of improving well-being. Torfaen’s Education Service has become the first Local Authority Education Service in Wales to receive the Children and Young People’s Participation Kite mark, meaning they are realising all 7 Participation Standards. The Kite mark is endorsed by Welsh Government. To achieve the Kite Mark a service must first undergo a self-assessment and be inspected by a team of trained Young Inspectors.

There are some excellent resources on participation here

Within Wales - My Youth Work/What Youth Work Means to Me

Each edition, we’ll shine a light on a different youth work organisation. In this edition: 

What youth work means to me. By Rhiannon Breeze, Prince’s Trust Executive, based in Cardiff.

Tell us about your work and the challenges you face

“There is nothing more fulfilling than waking up to a job that excites you, that pushes you to be the best you can be and that offers an environment for you to be creative and spontaneous. I work as a Prince’s Trust Executive on ‘Explore’, The Trust’s core engagement programme. I create and deliver both one-to-one support and group sessions with the intention to empower and help young people; with the aim to further develop their essential skills so they can confidently progress onto the next steps of their personal development journey.

Youth work does present its own unique challenges. Maintaining youth engagement can be tricky because of numerous factors, including mental health issues, peer and social media influences, access to transport or lack of motivation. It is key that we continuously upskill ourselves as youth workers to develop sessions which both incorporate an educational benefit and an appeal factor to sustain levels of engagement among young people.

What’s great about what you do and what difference does it make in your area?

So much beauty underpins my role as a youth worker. I get to see young people grow and flourish, I have the opportunity to positively influence others and I feel I can contribute, in the smallest of ways, to making a young person’s day that little bit better. I feel youth work makes a genuine difference in my local area, both from a community and environmental perspective. We encourage our young people to partake in community-based projects and volunteering opportunities as it creates a greater connection to the local community. Taking part in these activities empowers young people to feel that they are making a difference and often leads to future work experience and employment opportunities too.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Prince’s Trust Cymru have adapted to community engagement in a virtual capacity and are navigating through ways in which we can still support our local communities. Being in tune and proactive with online opportunities helps us maintain the partnerships we hold and will ensure that our connections are just as strong when we come out the other side of the crisis.

How are you applying your skills?

Delivering our support to young people comes naturally to me, however it has been a steep learning curve to apply these skills to our new digital environment, while ensuring the quality of the service remains the best it can be. I am working to make sure that we offer accessible support to young people in Wales that is just as engaging, exciting and keeps their spirits up. We need to help young people push on from this point, especially when the pandemic has increased the number of barriers to progression. We want to be there for young people to take their next steps, whatever that looks like.”

Where to find out more

Prince’s Trust Cymru is continuing to support 16-30 year olds across Wales. With lots of resources on the Support Hub , we provide both one-to-one and group support sessions to boost employment and self-employment skills. These sessions can be accessed online for free.

Keep up to date by following us on social media - search ‘Prince’s Trust Cymru’ or call 0800 842842.

Around the World

Each edition, we’ll shine a light on some of the different youth work approaches or activities taking place beyond Wales.

In England, the National Youth Agency recently published the The Out of Sight? report, which highlights the scale of young people’s needs during the pandemic.

In Scotland, the Scottish Youth Parliament, YouthLink Scotland and Young Scot have produced Lockdown Lowdown which identifies how young people feel about Covid-19.

In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action recently published an article on the impact of Covid-19 on young people.

Have you heard?

Each issue we provide space for individuals and organisations to share information with their peers.

On 13 May the Welsh Government launched ‘Coronavirus and me’ a survey to ask children and young people their views on Coronavirus. The survey closed on 27 May, and as of 21 May over 20,000 children and young people had responded to it. We are looking forward to the detailed analysis we will get from this survey.

Community Music Wales have been creating bite sized videos for a range of musical activities, including; How to write a rap, getting started on the ukulele, basic drumming skills and more. New videos are being released every Wednesday at 1pm. These videos are ideal for anyone wanting to test the waters with a new musical hobby - check them out on Youtube or Facebook @CommunityMusicWales

Community Music Wales

CWVYS Regional Social ZOOM Meetings aim to 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

The theme for next series of meetings will concentrate on preparing for Youth Work Week (23 – 30 June) and funding. The dates are as follows:

  • Central South and South East Wales – 28/5/20 – 10am to 11am
  • North Wales – 29/5/20 10am to 11am
  • South West and Mid Wales -29/5/20 1pm to 2pm

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


NYAS Cymru have published a report on Covid-19 and Care-experienced Children and Young People, which summarises perspectives and evidence gathered from children and young people.

The All Wales Public Service Virtual Summer School, will be available from 22-26 June on the Acadmi Wales website. . This is available to colleagues across the public and third sector for free and aims to support leadership and learning needs in the current situation. To find out more please click here.

Acadmi Wales

Local authority counselling services are continuing to offer support to children and young people remotely, either using telephone-based services or via online provision and by providing resources which young people can access remotely. Contact details for accessing school and community-based counselling are available here.

Posters are now available on Hwb, covering safe and healthy relationships, which are aimed at young people. A poster is also available, aimed at parents, on adolescent to parent abuse.


Now that we’re in lockdown, sadly home is more dangerous than ever for some children. The NSPCC are running a national campaign, reminding adults to contact them if they have concerns about children. If you would like more information about how your organisation could support the campaign in Wales, please contact

BBC Cymru

Finally following the BBC’s call to celebrate and recognise Welsh Heroes who are making a difference during the pandemic, the Minister for Education tweeted a thank you message, and made reference to the work of the youth services as part of that message.

Be Part of the Youth Work Newsletter

The next issue of the newsletter will have Youth Work Week as its special focus. Get in touch via email if you want to contribute to it, and we'll provide a style guide for submitting articles to us, with information on the word count of articles for the various sections.

Please remember to use #YouthWorkWales #GwaithIeuenctidCymru when tweeting to raise the profile of Youth Work in Wales 


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Fortnightly e-newsletter providing information and support to the youth work sector during the current public health crisis

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