Welcome to our regularly-updated hub dedicated to helping youth leaders respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GETTING STARTED WITH VIRTUAL YOUTH WORK? TRY THESE FROM THE LIVEBLOG:
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"Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help." (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)
Tonight we’re praying for young people in our churches and communities to experience the goodness and mercy of God. Whether we are able or not to stay in contact with the young people we’re called to serve, we can rest in the confidence that God is more than able to make his presence known to each and every young person right now. Social isolation is no barrier to the Holy Spirit. If you can, bring young people before God by name. Ask God to pour out his blessing and comfort on the young people who are living in your community.
Father, every young person is known and loved by you. Tonight we pray that the young people in this community who you have called me to serve will reach out for you and will find you. Bless them in their homes. Bless them online. Bless them out on the streets. Bless them as they sleep. Bless them as they adjust to this new way of living. Above all, may they see and understand how wonderfully they are made and how powerfully they are loved by you. Amen.
A new network of churches which are looking to help their communities during the Covid-19 epidemic is growing rapidly. YourNeighbour.org - an initiative of the Good Faith Partnership - is seeking to ‘help churches to be good neighbours’ by equipping leaders, connecting churches with people in need, and by working with the government. It’s free and quick to join, and by doing so you’ll get access to a range of online resources, including some from Youthscape.
Last week we asked you some questions for the Friday 3x3– a way to take the temperature of the youth ministry community during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Every Friday at 3pm we’ll ask three questions which will take you no more than three minutes to answer. Sixty-nine people responded this week. So, this doesn’t represent the wider community of Christian youth workers - it just gives us a sense of what’s going on.
You can read the full-length breakdown and reflection here, but a brief summary is below:
1. EASTER: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON?
This will be an Easter like no other. We asked you to complete the statement "Over Easter, I anticipate that I will mostly…" Half of you said you were going to carry on at your current pace, with 8.7% expecting to work harder. Only 40.6% expected to slow down or stop working. Of course, we don’t know what ‘current pace’ means, or whether Easter would normally be a time for rest for all Christian youth workers (I suspect not..). But it’s a reminder that this situation will affect us differently.
2. STAYING MENTALLY WELL: PEOPLE AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS
We asked, "How important have these been for looking after your own mental health this week?" and presented a list of activities, many recommended by the NHS and other mental health charities. The weighted average shows "Staying connected to people" was most important, closely followed by "Going outside". Prayer and worship feature highly, alongside diet and rest. With a minority anticipating slowing down over Easter, it will be important for us to consider what rest means over the following two weeks.
- Staying connected to people - 2.70
- Going outside - 2.68
- Prayer, worship or meditation - 2.55
- Eating and drinking well - 2.54
- Rest - 2.50
3. DIGITAL BURNOUT: NOT MUCH "NOW", A LOT OF "NOT YET"
Digital burnout can mean feeling exhausted, distracted or disengaged when interacting online, or beginning to avoid online activity. We asked whether you had seen any evidence of young people you support experiencing digital burnout.
Fifty-five people answered this question, with 39 (71%) reporting that they had not seen evidence of young people experiencing digital burnout. Some added that they were intentionally keeping online activity simple or minimal, either in response to young people’s request for space or to avoid overload. 18 of these added the caveat ‘Not yet’with some anticipating that they would see this in days to come. Seven people said that while they didn’t see digital burnout among young people, they were experiencing it themselves.
Fourteen (25.4%) told us that they had seen evidence of young people experiencing digital burnout. Ten responded with a clear ‘yes’ to our question, and an additional four reported lower engagement with digital youth work this week compared to last week. A few of these 14 told us that young people want screen-free evenings when they’ve been doing schoolwork online in the day and that some have turned their phones off for a day.
Thanks to those who took part! If you missed it why not join us next time – see you Friday at 3pm?
During Holy Week, Christians around the world will be remembering the sacrifice of Jesus that makes it possible for us all to draw close to God. It’s good to be reminded that we can have this intimacy with the Father through the Son. And now more than ever, it’s good to pray for young people in our churches and communities to know this intimacy with the Father too. So every day this week we’re inviting youth workers and those who care about young people to join us in praying for them. Each day at 6pm we will share a prayer and a few pointers for how we can be praying for young people at this time.
We would love you to join us.
Kintsugi Hope are giving the chance for people to run their wellbeing groups online. You can find information about it, including a downloadable brochure, on their website. They've also moved the training for group leaders online.
Happy Friday! (If you're still following the days of the week) With the weekend comes a new blog post – this one's from Lahna Pottle, all about the fun, thoughtful and creative things young people could try out over the Easter 'holidays'.
"The Easter holidays are going to look a little bit different this year. Ok, a LOT different. And young people are going to need plenty of ideas and inspiration for things to do to have fun, keep busy, and spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally fed..."
3 MINUTES, 3 QUESTIONS, EVERY FRIDAY AT 3 O'CLOCK
We are scattered, physically distanced and isolated. Yet we’re going through similar experiences in a way that is entirely new. We have never done this before, and everyone is improvising. We thought it might be important to capture some of what this glorious community is doing, thinking and feeling during an entirely new experience.
But things are changing so rapidly we didn’t want to just ask once.
Welcome to this week’s Friday 3x3 - a way to take the temperature of the youth ministry community during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every Friday at 3pm we’ll ask three questions which should take you about three minutes to answer. This week we’re anticipating Easter, hearing about how you’re managing your mental health and asking about digital burnout.
Come back to the blog next week for results in our Monday Report.
We’re creating a special series of the Youthscape podcast, which will continue to appear at semi-regular intervals during the current global crisis.
The latest edition has just gone live; in it Rachel talks to Dr Kate Middleton from the Mind and Soul Foundation about what young people might be dealing with in terms of their mental health, and some practical advice for them. Much of it also applies to youth leaders! Martin and Rachel also own up to which cringey films/TV shows they've stooped to watching during lockdown...
In this time when we're all so aware of our physical health, let's not neglect the mental and emotional health of the young people we work with. As a starting point, Young Minds have gathered some self-care tips from some of their young bloggers.
There's a new blog post live at Youth Work News, courtesy of our Director of Research Lucie Shuker. You can find it via the adjacent link, and here's a glimpse of what she has to say:
"We believe we were created through and by love, and that God looks upon us ‘with eyes brighter than the sun’ (St John of Kronstadt). We believe we are known. Seen. Accepted in all our frail humanity by God who has reconciled us to love. Our first task is to remember that and find small practices that help us know it, not just intellectually, but emotionally. From a daily awareness of that love comes a range of other insights that ground us and keep us from falling apart..."
In the coming weeks we’re posting simple ideas for online youth work here on the liveblog. So far, we’ve thought about taking young people on Virtual Tours of exciting locales from the comfort of their own home (admittedly, that phrase works better when you’re not on mandatory lockdown) and we’ve thought about how young people could invest in their communities and reach out to the elderly and vulnerable.
Now let’s get creative. Want to switch up how you do youth group notices, or looking for an artistic, fun new way to get people talking and creating? Why not make a stop motion movie?
Stop motion is a form of animation where a video is made by taking a number of photos and moving things around bit by bit between each shot. When the images are then played back sequentially, what was static is now moving. Stop motion animation is behind well-loved classics like Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Nightmare Before Christmas. Stop-motion allows you to make a high-quality film using minimal resources.
Want to inspire the young people you work with to try something they’ve never done before? Explain the concept of a stop motion film and encourage them to make their own. You could use this as a way of making a collaborative youth group movie. If you decide on a storyline, each young person could film from 30-60 seconds of images, and those individual scenes could be collected and edited together to make a complete animation.
Here is a step-by-step guide you / they can work through to make the movie. There’s also a handy how-to video below:
STEP 1: Download a stop motion video app and familiarise yourself with how it works. Apps such as Stop Motion Studio are free to use and put the movies together for you. All you have to do is take the photos and move the characters.
STEP 2: Choose your characters. The cast of your movie is completely up to you! You could use Lego people, stick men, soft toys or even everyday household items. Toy Story 4 was headlined by a plastic spork, so shoot for the moon.
STEP 3: Come up with a rough storyline. Nothing too long or complicated. It can be as easy as having a character climb the stairs or fight an opponent. Remember for each move your character makes you’ll have to take a load of photos so the simpler the scene, the better.
STEP 4: …Action! Time to get the camera rolling. Open the app on your device and set up the first scene. Take your photo. Next, move the characters slightly – it could be adjusting an arm, moving them forward an inch, etc. Once you’ve set your new scene you can take another photo. Continue moving your characters bit by bit for each new photo. Once you’re happy they’ve reached the end of the scene, hit play and watch your stop motion movie from start to finish.
Girls Brigade Ministries have launched a set of "at home" resources for the four age groups of girls they work with. They're releasing weekly resources and a "Stay Connected" sheet for youth leaders. Want to know more about the work of Girls Brigade Ministries? We did a podcast episode with them a few weeks ago, check it out here.
‘Together Apart’ is a short series of sessions enabling you to explore life and faith with young people, designed specifically for the context of online youth work. And it's completely free! The first two sessions, released last week, can be downloaded here. You can catch a new session of Together Apart every Wednesday here on the liveblog.
Each session includes a short programme around a theme, along with copious notes on everything that a youth leader might need to consider when running the session online. We’re not claiming that this is a revolutionary new youth work model – but we hope that it will prove really useful in the immediate context in which we find ourselves. As always, we welcome your feedback!
Session Three, written by Youthscape's Hannah Bradley, explores the theme of generosity (download it via the adjacent link). What would you do with £1 million?
Our friends at Open Doors Youth have created resources for young people and youth leaders for this time of isolation, learning lessons from the persecuted church. You can subscribe here to receive weekly emails, videos, podcasts and reflections around these themes: uncertainty, isolation, lack and fear.
We’ve been rummaging around in the digital basement, and found some old posters from the first few editions of our research quarterly The Story, way back in the heady years of 2015 and 2016. We thought we’d share one a week with you, as a free download, in case you find yourself with a little more time for reflection and reading. If that’s not you, stick it in a file marked ‘Later’. You can download the poster as a PDF via the adjacent link.
Although much of this is still very relevant, there has been lots of research published since we produced our first poster on self-harm. You can read some of it in this Research News blog that we published last year.
A free downloadable PDF from our research quarterly The Story, on 'everything you need to know about self-harm'.
At the best of times, we turn to video games to keep children busy or provide some light entertainment and bonding. Now, with much more time inside it’s easy simply to ramp up that same approach.
However, video games can offer much more than that for young people. Like any media, they are a new way to tell stories, to engage with the world, to make sense of life. But as well as that, they can also offer a powerful space in which to find calm, hope, peace and even a bit of control when the world around us feels far from that.
The challenge is finding the games that offer these things at the right time. Writer and broadcaster Andy Robertson (who was one of the contributors at last November’s National Youth Ministry Weekend) has put together The Family Video Game Database as a resource to help you do just this. It’s a huge collection of information about video games arranged into lists.
Along with the usual lists about playing together on the couch, or online, there are some more interesting ones that point to games with a deeper side. For example:
One of the lists in the database has been put together by the LTN (Love Thy Nerd) Christian gaming community to highlight games that challenge us to love our neighbour. Other interesting highlights include a list of games that offer tough ethical decisions, games that invite you to inhabit another world or walk in someone else’s shoes.
If you’ve never played games yourself before, the site encourages you to try out the games picked out specifically as your first video game.
Want a way of continuing to share experiences as a youth group from the comfort of your own home? In the coming weeks we’re posting simple ideas for online youth work here on the liveblog, you can read idea #1: Virtual Tours, here.
During recent weeks, it’s been incredible to see people come together and offer support to one another during such difficult times. Here's a way to engage your group in the midst of quarantine, and help them to invest in their community:
IDEA #2: BRING GENERATIONS TOGETHER - INVITE YOUNG PEOPLE TO WRITE TO AN ELDERLY PERSON IN THEIR COMMUNITY.
We know that some of those most at risk now are the elderly, and that elderly people are already some of the most isolated in our communities. A letter, email or card could brighten up someone’s day and bring real encouragement. Here are the practical steps:
- Identify older, vulnerable people in your community who would be open to receiving a message from a young person. If you work for a church, identify isolated older people in your congregation and ask for their home/email addresses. If your youth work context is not church based, how about contacting a local care home? Ask them if they would be up for receiving correspondence from your youth group and distributing the message to residents. If they are worried about the risk associated with letters coming in, check to see if emails would be appropriate. Emails could be printed off on site and delivered to rooms or read aloud.
- Get the young people you work with on board. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your young people about social action and caring for their neighbours. Tell them they can be creative as they want to be with their messages. If they’re struggling with what to write, point them towards a Bible passage, poem or song lyrics. Challenge them to see this practical exercise as a way of looking after some of the most vulnerable people and a way in which they can potentially make a real difference in someone’s day.
The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health have uploaded a podcast to talk about how to help young people and children with autism during this pandemic. They give some practical tips on how to help manage anxiety, maintain structure and explain the situation to young people.
We’re creating a special series of the Youthscape podcast, which will continue to appear at semi-regular intervals during the current global crisis.
The fifth and latest edition has just gone live; in it Martin Saunders talks to Justin Humphreys about the updated safeguarding guidance that Youthscape and ThirtyOne:Eight have worked on together and Martin and Rachel reflect on what youth work practice will look like coming out of the pandemic.
A group of collaborators from across the Church have created a crowdsourced Google Doc with advice for churches during the pandemic. It's regularly updated and includes tips for live-streaming, links to webinars, advice for crisis management and links to helpful blog posts.