Youth Work Bulletin - COVID19 - Youth Work Week Edition 19th June 2020

COVID19 Special Edition 7 - Youth Work Week - 19th June 2020


A word from our Board Chair

Keith Towler

Keith’s voice

It’s been a challenging few weeks since I last wrote, where we’ve seen the best and worst of humanity, from the technological brilliance that launched Space X to the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks . And in the meantime, whilst hotspots have shifted, the pandemic has continued to spread. At this time,  the deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks and the ongoing pandemic really highlight, in different ways, the value of human life and the importance of treating each other with respect, kindness and compassion.


We have seen young people join Black Lives Matter demonstrations across Wales and the UK and that must serve to remind us that discrimination still exists in our society. Youth Work prides itself on a rights based approach and will continue to uphold non-discriminatory practice. That is important, not least because of the recent publication of Show Racism the Red Card’s report on racism within the Welsh education system. Youth Work plays a key role in continuing to challenge racism, working with young people in developing positive values and respect for others.

With this in mind, and just ahead of Youth Work week, I would like to reiterate how valuable the work that we do is, and what a difference this makes to young people’s lives.  Over the last few months, Youth Work has demonstrated again and again how crucial it is in supporting young people, and this is reflected in some of the articles in today’s bulletin.

We are continuing to work in very difficult times, but we are also looking to the future and to what recovery will look like. On 3 June the Minister for Education announced the next phase for schools in Wales. From 29 June children and young people will be given the chance to "catch up" and prepare with their teachers ahead of the summer holidays. Part of this process will involve checking on children and young people’s wellbeing. In many schools and local authorities this will be an opportunity for youth workers to add value, as they are particularly skilled in engaging with young people; they have real expertise in this area to share with teaching colleagues.

As schools take those first steps forward it is important to remember that, for many, youth work has not stopped during the pandemic, proceeding carefully and thoughtfully, and often pioneering new digital approaches. There have also been instances of face to face youth work where absolutely necessary, and always following strict social distancing and overarching government rules and guidance. For others, continued delivery of youth work approaches has proved to be challenging and we want to learn more about the barriers they are facing.

The Interim Youth Work Board is accelerating work with the sector and Welsh Government colleagues to develop guidance on the next steps for youth work, as we ease out of lockdown. In developing this guidance we will be informed by young people’s and the sector’s views, as well as the most up to date scientific advice.

We are proceeding with caution but attempting to deliver some business as normal. It will come as no surprise, therefore, that this year we are moving the Youth Work Excellence Awards online. While they will not be held in Youth Work Week this year we will shortly be in a position to announce the finalists and provide details of when the ceremony will take place.

Finally, the Youth Work Week showcase event will be taking place online next week and there is a planned Twitter Q&A session with the Interim Youth Work Board. I look forward to engaging with you and hearing your questions. Have a great Youth Work Week!

All the best.

Keith Towler

Young Person’s voice

Young Person’s voice

By Tilly Hall


Youth work has been an important part of my life, attending Youth Club in the Vale of Glamorgan, taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) and Peer Mentorship Schemes, all supported my development as a young person and transition into a young adult. Youth work helped me to engage with other young people, develop transferable skills and get involved in a variety of activities that I would not have been able to do otherwise.


Youth work develops young people’s interest on wider societal issues and supports more holistic learning and personal growth. When I attended youth club, I was rather active and the youth worker asked me to volunteer; simple things like working behind the tuck shop and running games outside, gradually I began to take advantage of the many other opportunities that were available including my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I used my youth club work for my volunteering section, and through this gained many additional opportunities and qualifications. I attended a DofE Wales Young Leader course to develop my leadership skills, allowing me to help other groups through their DofE training. This also helped develop my own style of youth work. While volunteering in the youth service I was awarded with the Global and International Citizenship Award and Health and Wellbeing Award; this was a huge achievement for me.

Youth work provision supported my development of a sense of self, confidence and resilience. Youth clubs also provide safe spaces that are informal, accessible and welcome a range of young people. As a young person I really valued these spaces and the relationships I held with youth workers. It really is so hard to explain how formative these opportunities were and their role in shaping my future.  

I feel that nowhere near enough value is placed on the important role youth work has on young people. While most people recognise this, youth work receives limited political attention, diminishing resources and inadequate funding. Many young people have been involved in youth work, making them an asset to understanding the importance of youth work. They should be given the opportunity to have these conversations with members of the community and people of influence such as politicians and youth work leaders.

Being a Regional Youth Ambassador at DofE Wales is a good example of this – we have all benefitted from taking part and so we are great advocates for the charity and can inform decisions from a young person’s perspective. Young people need to be the advocates for the positive opportunities’ youth work can present.

Youth Work Week: time to celebrate

Youth Work Week is the annual celebration of Youth Work, providing an opportunity for youth organisations, youth workers and young people to celebrate their achievements and the impact of Youth Work. In Wales, Youth Work Week is held from 23 to 30 June every year, and it helps us celebrate the positive power and impact of youth work and share that message as widely as possible.

Organisations across Wales are marking Youth Work Week in a variety of different ways. Make sure your events are noted through the CWVYS calendar, available here.

In place of the National Celebration of Youth Work as part of Youth Work Week 2020, due to be held in the Senedd, an online showcase will be held on Tuesday 23rd June. As with the physical event, the aim is to showcase the diversity and impact of youth work across Wales, sharing its importance with a wide audience.  A number of videos will be released on social media throughout the day with Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education speaking at 10am, Keith Towler at 11am, Llyr Gruffydd at 12 noon.  Additionally there will be a Q&A with members of the Interim Youth Work Board and you can submit questions using the #AskTheIYWB via the @YWWales account

Please join in the conversation using the hashtags #YouthWorkWales and #GwaithIeuenctidCymru

This year’s Youth Work Week is different to previous years, but you can still get involved, share your stories and planned activities as widely as possible online and celebrate the value of Youth Work.

Special Focus: Youth Work – its value and impact

Each bulletin we focus in on a specific theme. In this issue, ahead of Youth Work Week, the focus is on the value and impact of Youth Work

Street Games 2

StreetGames’ purpose is to enable disadvantaged young people and communities to be healthier, safer and more successful through sport, physical activity and volunteering. Regular participation can affect many aspects of life, physical health, mental wellbeing and social connectedness. For young people, socioeconomic status often affects their access to, and participation in, sport. StreetGames aims to give these young people more opportunities to become involved, giving them a chance to change both their lives and their communities. For more information, visit the website.

As part of StreetGames’ response to the COVID19 Pandemic, the organisation has been in constant conversation with young people and Locally Trusted Organisations (LTOs) that make up the StreetGames Network. This is to ensure they are supporting organisations and individuals in meaningful ways, to enable the organisation to advocate on their behalf. As a result, Streetgames has published two pieces of insight.

Youth Voice Research - COVID19 and Lockdown

 The role of a trusted adult is paramount to achieving the organisation’s mission, this insight further demonstrates the clear role a youth worker/coach plays in influencing young people’s behaviours. The majority of young people consulted are missing their friends and socialising, but importantly 23% are missing their youth worker/coach, which highlights the key role and the value of youth work.

They also reinforced key messages: that they are missing coaching, just having ‘somewhere to go’, the staff and having ‘someone to talk to’. An individual mentioned that by engaging with youth workers during this period has been a great help for them. They stated “The opportunity to talk to someone. Some of the adults in my group have been a great benefit for my mental health.”

“The Experience of the Coronavirus Lockdown in Low-Income Areas of England and Wales”

Many LTOs have expanded from supporting young people to supporting entire families. They are playing a major role in supporting parents and families to navigate the authorities through lockdown: phoning schools and social services and delivering food parcels and other supplies.

Some work has moved online, finding new ways to keep young people engaged. Many LTOs are monitoring their participants remotely, contacting the young people each week, but the most vulnerable 2 or 3 times a week.

Many are worried that their communities will be left on their own to pick up the pieces when lockdown is over. There will be more unemployment, especially amongst the youth, and there will be many more people struggling with their wellbeing and mental health.

For further information about StreetGames and how it supports the youth sector, please get in touch.

 Twitter: @StreetGameWales Instagram: @streetgameswales

Email:  Website:

Finally, StreetGames Wales wanted to say Thank-You, to the Youth Work sector for everything you do for young people. Youth Clubs, Youth Workers and Youth Provision contribute hugely to StreetGames’ charitable mission and the work that you are all doing right now to support young people is invaluable.

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

Each edition, we’ll shine a light on a different youth work organisation

YMCA Swansea

Adapting Youth Work Provision Digitally for our LGBT+ Youth Services

By Stacey Brown, Arts Officer and Youth Support Worker for LGBT Youth Group Good Vibes at YMCA Swansea

Q: Tell us about the work you do and the challenges you face:

I work for YMCA Swansea leading the LGBT+ Youth Group ‘GoodVibes’ which supports young people 11-25 years. GoodVibes is about providing a safe space for young LGBT people, where they can build trusted relationships with workers and other young people going through similar experiences as themselves.

It’s been so imperative to us that we found a way to continue providing the GoodVibes service during Covid 19 for the 62 young people who engage with this service each week. I am also providing a virtual youth group every Thursday and 1-2-1 sessions with any individual members that want it during our dedicated 1-2-1 time slots. Additionally we work in partnership with LGBT+ Cymru Helpline as part of our Y- Connect Project and can also refer all GoodVibes members on for specialist LGBT counselling. 

We are also working in partnership with Museum Wales and the National Waterfront on a Project called Alternative MX Wales which allows young people to create and design their own transformations.

What we have found difficult however, is even though young people are finding it a struggle not attending GoodVibes, not many young people want to engage with the virtual youth group sessions as they are self-conscious and anxious using this medium. Young people respond and say they are interested in attending the virtual youth group, however do not tune in for the time specified. We know young people need support because the ratio of referrals we are making to access counselling from the LGBT+ Cymru Helpline has raised significantly by 100%. Young People are suffering trauma from losing loved ones and also feeling lonely and isolated.  We are therefore focusing on providing 1-2-1 closed support during this time as well as virtual Group and closed Club sessions.

I am finding this quite an emotional strain because I want to be there for all of them. I am not able to go and meet with them face-to-face to ensure they are safe and supported. We are lucky to have an established reflective practice approach, where weekly we can support one another with our peers and colleagues, share our experiences and hand hold each other to find solutions and inform our youth work practice.

We are also fortunate to have a great relationship with LGBT Cymru Helpline and other providers who deliver great work and we can learn from one another and support one another.

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

The great thing about Good Vibes LGBT+ Youth Group is the culture and vibes it has set itself. No matter who you are or what you are struggling with; the group welcomes you in and you become part of a loving GoodVibes family. They are a very creative and talented group of young people who can, sing, dance, make incredible artwork and advocate for equality and diversity.

Q: How are you applying your skills:

I am applying my skills by continuing to provide all types of support where ever needed and planning creative sessions that will suit as many of our member’s interests as possible to continue to connect them and most importantly providing opportunities where they can connect with each other.

Q: Where to find out more

To find out more about our LGBT+ Youth Services please contact Stacey (Pronouns She/Her) :


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YMCA Swansea 2

Around the World

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


Volunteering across the world with UNA Exchange

UNA Exchange’s European Solidarity Corps programme offers amazing, fully funded, short and long- term volunteer experiences abroad for young people aged 18 – 30. They also offer international volunteering workcamp experiences to everyone, without any age limit.

Abigail Hansford is one young person who took part in this programme and was based in Moldova, described as the poorest country in Europe, which is dealing with mass emigration. She summed up what she’d learned from this experience as follows

  • migration is never a choice taken lightly;
  • you can find (extra)ordinary community in some difficult, but beautiful places; and
  • knowledge of local language and a smile will always come in handy!

Find out about Abigail’s experiences here.

Have you heard?

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

Democracy Session

How to start a petition and what are the steps you need to take to make a change. For young people 11-25 on Zoom with Steven Williams who works for Parliament’s Education and Engagement Team in Wales. On Tuesday 23rd June, at 3pm.

Please contact: Egija Cinovska,, 07946348878

Online employability sessions

Prince’s Trust Cymru is launching a new weekly series of online employability sessions. Topics include using social media, seeking opportunities, CV writing and setting goals, with participants receiving a certificate on completion. Search ‘Prince’s Trust Cymru’ on Facebook, Twitter or get in touch to find out more about their support for young people.

Princes Trust
A new normal

A New Normal

Fio are delivering weekly workshops to draw comparisons between pandemics creatively. The young people will use their imagination to contribute to a fun archival web series…through animation!

More information here.


Fio are challenging young people to write a letter. Why? To promote offline mindfulness! This means no short text messages or hastily written emails but doing things the traditional way. All letters will be responded to too, so get writing!


See more here.

Pen 2 paper

Mental Health and Welbeing

To support young people during this testing time, the Welsh Government has created an online resource which promotes the numerous digital tools designed specifically to support young people with their own mental health and emotional wellbeing. The Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit links young people, aged 11 to 25, to websites, apps, helplines, and more to build resilience and support them through the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

The National Centre for Mental Health has issued guidance on supporting people who have experienced traumatic events.

Young Carers

Carers Trust have launched at the UK level a new survey, to capture the views of young carers and young adult carers (aged 12 -25) across the UK. The aim is to capture both positive and negative experiences.

The English language version can be found here and the Welsh language version can be found here.  The survey will close on 23 June 2020


Cardiff YMCA has provided respite and services to Young Carers across the city since 2009, however, a new exciting partnership with Cardiff Council has formed!  Cardiff YMCA will work closely with Cardiff Council, receiving referrals from the gateway to #identify, #engage, #support and #empower the Young Carers of Cardiff. 

Find us on social media to find out more about the project:

  • Instagram - @cardiffyoungcarers & @ymcacyc_robyn
  • Twitter - @robyncymca_g
  • Facebook – Cardiff Young Carers @ Cardiff YMCA

Urdd Peace & Goodwill Message

Since 1922 the Urdd has produced a message of Peace and Goodwill with the aim to unite the young people of the world. This year the message was a response to the Coronavirus pandemic sharing the desire to see the world listen and learn from the crisis. This year it was the most shared  message in the 98-year history of the annual message reaching over 40 countries, translated to over 50 languages and a social media reach of over 15 million.

Help and support for those who are experiencing or know someone experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence during the coronavirus emergency

The ‘Home shouldn’t be a place of fear’ campaign aims to let those at risk of domestic abuse, sexual violence and coercive control during this time, know that help is still available 24 hours a day, every day, via Live Fear Free.

All campaign materials (including jpegs, posters and social media assets) can be downloaded here.


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

Be Part of the Youth Work Newsletter

The next issue of the newsletter will have Skills and Employability as its special focus. Get in touch via email ( by 2 July, to let us know 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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We have moved to issuing the newsletter every 3 weeks or so, to provide information and support to the youth work sector during the current public health crisis.

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