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Coronavirus: A youth ministry liveblog

 

We ran this liveblog from March to May 2020 to help youth leaders respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. All the content shared can still be accessed and searched for via the sidebar.

Topic: Online youth work

1d ago.

Resource Hub: New home for Coronavirus content

 

If you're looking for the latest blogs, research, and resources related to youth work and Covid-19, we've made a new home for that content with out Resource Hub, which you can find at the adjacent link. So no more updates on here, but do join us over there!

Covid-19 Resource Hub

Covid-19 Resource Hub

Welcome to our Covid-19 Resource Hub, the new home for all our coronavirus-related content — a pool of resources made to help your work with young people.

22d ago.

The Monday Report: Gratitude, overwhelm, and unexpected positives of lockdown

 

Last week we asked you some questions for the Thursday 3x3 - a way to take the temperature of the youth ministry community during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every Thursday at 3pm we ask three questions that will take you no more than three minutes to answer. We had 28 responses so this is not a representative group and we can’t generalise from these answers to all Christian youth workers in the UK. This week we asked about how you’re feeling, lockdown guidance and positive experiences of youth ministry.

You can read the full report here.

1. STILL GRATEFUL, STILL OVERWHELMED

This is the third (and final) time we’ve asked about how you’ve been feeling over the last week. We’ve asked the same question in week one (n=60) week five (n=53) and now week ten (n=28). With half-term in full swing and many youth workers furloughed, we had fewer people fill out this third survey but there is still some real consistency around the emotional experiences of feeling grateful and feeling overwhelmed. We know practising gratitude is powerful, but how do you manage moments of feeling overwhelmed? Here’s a great article from Dr Kate Middleton on overwhelm and some encouragement from one youth worker to another in a recent blog post for Youthwork News by Gemma Milligan.

2. LOCKDOWN

In week three we asked whether young people were following social distancing guidelines and (as far as you knew) the majority of you said yes. Now that we all have permission to meet in small groups outside, we wanted to come back to the question. This time we asked which of the statements below you agreed with. Given that youth work is not generally face to face, it is interesting that 30% have explained the guidelines and 85% have encouraged young people to stick to them. 41% have witnessed young people they know not following the guidelines, some of whom have been struggling with anxiety. But, as someone pointed out in a comment, we neglected to ask whether you had seen young people followingthe guidelines! In fact, where people made comments it was generally to tell us about young people’s compliance, or their frustration at friends who weren’t complying.

Lockdownrulesgraph
 

3. THE UNEXPECTED POSITIVES

We would never choose them, but these experiences of crisis can sometimes precipitate welcome change in ourselves and others. So finally, we asked ‘Has lockdown had any positive impact for your work with young people?’ There were a range of responses, but here (in order of frequency reported) are the key areas where you’ve seen good developments.

  1. More meaningful contact with young people. Some people have supported more young people through lockdown, but for most it has been about smaller groups, more focused conversation, space to talk about feelings, the chance to offer pastoral care or just the opportunity to develop closer relationships with specific individuals.
  2. More creativity in your approach to youth work. You told us about diversifying your programmes, doing more one-to-one engagement, doorstep deliveries, art-based work and even being able to use WhatsApp - despite previous resistance to the idea.
  3. Deeper faith development. Some people have noticed young peoples’ faith developing through a renewed focus on God or scripture within group settings. Others described young people being more vulnerable, more supportive of peers or whose faith was flourishing where they were taking more responsibility in a group.
  4. Other answers. Finally, there were other positives that you told us about: more meaningful contact with the parents of young people; the chance to slow down and read; more contact between young people themselves; opportunities to just have fun; group exercise and even appearances on a Sunday.

Hear about the latest Youthscape News & Resources

27d ago.

New blog: a vital mindset shift for youth work

 

There's a new blog post up at Youth Work News! It's all about a mindset shift that can help us when pandemic crisis has robbed us of any sense of control.

"...in just one week, I tumbled from “fine” to “absolutely not ok”. A health scare in my family, the reality of isolation in a flat on my own for weeks, fears about youth work not working, like dominoes they tumbled one by one. Each fear triggered another, and I felt unable to pick myself up or stop the cascading fears. I was left feeling more anxious, sad, frustrated and hopeless than I have in years. I couldn’t stop my mind from going over everything that was changing, everything I was missing out on, the things I was losing, the people I was distanced from.

Sadly, I suspect I am not the only person who has been feeling something akin to this recently. It’s a feeling ultimately of losing control over things we once had."

2d ago.

Podcast: Gap Years

 

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, Martin talks to Pete Baker from Pais GB about the impact of gap years on the formation of young people's faith, and what this could look like going forward. Martin and Rachel also talk about what's going on with the wider youth work culture at the moment. Plus you get a little sneaky preview of our NEW Youthscape resource!

You can listen now here, and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode, here.

YS Podcast Special Edition 17: Gap Years with Pete Baker

YS Podcast Special Edition 17: Gap Years with Pete Baker

What does the youth work culture look like right now? Rachel and Martin offer some thoughts. Martin talks to Pete Baker from Pais GB about gap years, and how they could work in the future. Also: Martin teases a new YS resource!

4d ago.

Stories from Isolation

 

Stories from Isolation is a project run by youth workers, to encourage young people to tell their stories during this pandemic. Do you know some creative young people who could get in touch and share their stories? You can find a guide here to tell you a bit more and some resources for youth workers here.

 
8d ago.

Podcast: Small Groups Online

 

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 Katherine O'Shea, the regional team leader for Fusion in London. Fusion equip churches to reach students, and they've been doing some great work helping prepare young people for university, and taking their small group training online. We'd also love some feedback from you about the Podcast!

You can listen now here, and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode, here.

8d ago.

Compassion and determination: the essentiality of youth work in a post-coronavirus world

 

There's a new blog post at Youth Work News from our Engagement Manager Gemma Milligan, drawing on this article from The Guardian.

"Despite huge funding cuts, little resources, and basically no advocacy, youth workers are still fighting to help meet young people’s needs; many choosing to do so in a voluntary capacity too. And I have little doubt that this is something that our world will be forced to rely upon in the months to come...there are now 2 million more (and 3 million in total) vulnerable young people in England due to this pandemic. That's huge. If there was a colossal need before it has now been tripled, and schools, mental health services, social care, and all other services that support young people, are going to be desperate for help to even begin to meet it."

9d ago.

Onelife leaders: Vulnerability in your youth group

 

Young people are missing their friends and their community; how can youth workers continue to help them build deep relationships? Onelife leaders have written a blog post about getting past the awkwardness and encouraging vulnerability. Here's a little excerpt:

"Sometimes it seems impossible to get young people to even speak to each other, let alone to call out each other’s faults and carry each other’s burdens! Now that we face the added obstacle of our screens, how do we move forward, building connection and a community of young people who challenge and support each other and call each other up into all God has for us?"

 
Photo by Headway on Unsplash
12d ago.

The Monday Report: Faith at home, young people’s questions and lockdown practice

 

Last week we asked you some questions for the Thursday 3x3 - a way to take the temperature of the youth ministry community during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every Thursday at 3pm we ask three questions which will take you no more than three minutes to answer. We had 48 responses and this is not a representative group, so we can’t generalise from these answers to all Christian youth workers in the UK.

This is a short summary of the Monday report. Head here to see the extended results.

1. Faith at home – it’s a bit of a blur

A couple of weeks ago the Church of England launched their Faith at Home initiative. We were curious about your perceptions of faith in the home, and how it might be affected by these circumstances. So, we asked ‘Do you think young people are experiencing more spiritual conversation/spiritual support from parents in the home since lockdown?’

The largest group (41%) said ‘I don’t know’ - which makes sense. Unless young people or parents tell you about conversations they are having, youth workers won’t really know what’s going on at home. Nevertheless 27% said ‘No’, with some commenting that young people were more likely to be getting hassled from parents, or that not many parents had the resources or capacity at the moment. 22% said ‘Yes’ and the final 10% commented that some young people were experiencing more spiritual support from parents and some weren’t, but that it depended on the parents themselves.

2. Definitely Some Questions Asked

You might know that we did a piece of research a couple of years ago about young people’s questions about faith and God. Having been thrown into such an unusual situation, we wondered whether lockdown had triggered any particular reflections or questions on faith from young people. Just over a third of the comments were some version of ‘No’, with little extra commentary.

The other two-thirds had observed reflections or questions from young people, and they ranged in theme. Some young people had questions about suffering, while others were about the role and mission of the church in these times. Some young people were asking about what the future might be like, about injustice, heaven and their own busyness. Young people have been reflecting on “what is important in life”, “how we are reacting to different aspects of lockdown”, “the importance of real-life friendships”, “developing a personal rather than collective faith” and feeling generally grateful for what they have, according to these youth workers.

 

3. Lockdown practice: less singing but more celebration

Finally, this is the week when we launch our latest piece of research, We do God, exploring the role of Christian practices in missional youth work. Given that life looks so different for us now than it did a few months ago, we asked one of our survey questions again. Have you been intentionally practising any of the following in the last six weeks?

Most of the top five are the same as they were six months ago, but taking the place of worship here is celebration. Are we making more of the celebrations happening anyway (like birthdays or Easter) or are we celebrating more? Previous surveys have certainly picked up a strong sense of ongoing gratitude, and this may well be related to the practice of celebration – even in these challenging times. There has also been an increase in the practices of lament, living simply and rest. But don’t worry. in case you’re thinking we’ve all gone mega holy, fasting is still down at the bottom of the list…

15d ago.

Together Apart Download

 

"Together Apart" is a short series of curriculum resources enabling you to explore life and faith with young people, and is designed specifically for use in the context of an online youth work session.

We've now combined all six session plans into a FREE downloadable PDF of six session plans for young people, along with copious notes on everything that a youth leader might need to consider when running the sessions online.

16d ago.

Prep young people for uni with Fusion

 

Are some of the young people you work with getting ready to go to university in September? It's obviously a difficult time to mark these transitions well, but we still want to support young people and help prepare them in the best ways we can.

Fusion are giving young people the opportunity to sign up for a four-part "preparation for university" course and to start the adventure of university prepared. Check it out here.

 
Fusionuniprep
18d ago.

Podcast: Permission to fail (your stories)

 

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, Martin and Rachel read out some of YOUR stories, following on from last week's podcast - "Permission to fail". They also talk through some of the findings from this week's Monday report.

You can listen now here, and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode, here.

YS Special Edition 14: Permission to fail (Your stories)

YS Special Edition 14: Permission to fail (Your stories)

Following on from last week's podcast, we shared some of your stories about the struggles of youth work online. It's good to know we're in this together! Martin and Rachel also discuss some of the findings from the Thursday 3x3 research.

19d ago.

The Monday Report: Youth worker as key workers, post-lockdown support and shifts in online engagement

 

Last week we asked you some questions for the Thursday 3x3 - a way to take the temperature of the youth ministry community during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every Thursday at 3pm we ask three questions which will take you no more than three minutes to answer. We had 57 responses, and this is not a representative group, so we can’t generalise from these answers to all Christian youth workers in the UK.

This is a short summary of the Monday report. Head here to see the extended results.

 

1. TWO-THIRDS THINK YOUTH WORKERS SHOULD BE KEY WORKERS

Last week the National Youth Agency called for youth workers to be considered as ‘essential key workers’ so that they can continue to provide some face-to-face support to young people. We asked whether you agreed. Two-thirds said ‘yes’, a fifth said ‘no’ and the rest said they didn’t know. Respondents pointed out that that youth workers could be a lifeline for vulnerable young people who would otherwise fall through the gaps, but some people were concerned about physical distancing and didn’t see their work as equivalent to other essential services.

 
Mondaygraph1
 

2. WE WANT SUPPORT FOR THINKING ABOUT YOUTH WORK POST-LOCKDOWN

Youth work organisations have rallied quickly to provide support, resources and guidance during lockdown, but it’s hard to know what people find useful. So, we asked ‘What support would you find helpful from youthwork organisations?’ 64% wanted guidance or advice on youthwork after lockdown, compared to 39% wanting advice about youth work during lockdown – suggesting that there is a need to prepare for how we’ll manage in the next phase. There is a desire for ‘general encouragement’ (52%), but fewer people want to engage in discussion with other youth workers (30%). Finally, it’s encouraging to see just over half the group have an appetite for ‘new models or approaches to youthwork’ (52%), as well as ‘session plans for online youth work’ (50%). Other suggestions were ideas for ‘all-age slots’ at online church, how to keep connected over a sustained period of lockdown, mental health resources to support young people/youth workers and, uhm, gardening tuition online…

 

2. A CORE GROUP ARE SHOWING UP ONLINE, BUT SOME ARE STILL MISSING

This week we asked, ‘How are young people engaging with online activity you are offering in week six, and how does this compare to the earlier weeks of lockdown?’. Just over half the answers (54%) were positive, describing a core group of young people engaging fairly consistently with online activities. While some people were effusive about online work, others were struggling. One person said that young people were still engaging well but “It’s getting harder and harder to keep it fresh and almost impossible to really connect with them through it”. And a number of people also said that although engagement has been stable, there has always been a group of young people who never showed up in the first place.

“We have the same group of young people each time we do a zoom chat. They are keen, but the rest of the group haven’t yet engaged.”

Finally, eight people told us that young people were not engaging with online activities at all, or much less than they had been. This was ascribed to weariness with Zoom, the burden of schoolwork, the novelty having worn off and having to manage home life. It’s important to remember that we don’t know the context behind these comments or numbers and it’s probably too soon to understand why things work well in some places/moments and less well in others. Whatever your experience, your desire to support young people comes through loud and clear. Keep going!

22d ago.

Podcast: Permission to fail

 

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, Martin talks to Youthscape's Jemimah Woodbridge, who shares some of her experience leading local youth work in Luton through this lockdown so far. (Check out Jemimah's blog post). Martin and Rachel also talk about whether youth work should be considered as "essential work". This podcast was recorded on Rachel's birthday, so listen out for a bonus mini celebration at the end!

You can listen now here, and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode, here.

This week, we want to hear from YOU - our youth worker community. Please get in touch with your stories about how youth work is going: the good, bad and ugly. You could email us or send videos/voice clips. We'd love to share some of them, so all of us feel less alone and can support each other! Get in touch here.

22d ago.

New blog post: Permission to fail - an open letter to the youth ministry community

 

When all we hear are the success stories of youth workers and churches running amazing youth work online, it's easy to get discouraged if that hasn't been our experience. In a new blog post, Jemimah Woodbridge opens up about YS Luton's lockdown experience so far:

"So, here I am, putting my hand up, and daring to say that this period of trying to respond to a totally changed world has been really difficult – to the point that we tried something, and it failed. I’m doing it because I hope it will give others permission to do the same. I waited for that someone else to hold their hands up, but all I see when I look at my social media feeds is glossy, exciting success stories. We need those of course, but we also need to honestly embrace the pain of trying new things."

23d ago.

The Thursday 3x3

 

3 MINUTES, 3 QUESTIONS, EVERY THURSDAY AT 3 O'CLOCK
The Thursday 3x3 is a chance for us to ask Christian youth workers in the UK about lockdown. If that’s you, step right up. Every Thursday at 3pm we’ll ask three questions about you, young people and youth ministry, which should take you about three minutes to answer. Today we’re asking whether you think youth work is an essential service, whether you are noticing any changes in young people’s digital engagement and exploring what you feel you need right now.

This micro-survey is anonymous and the answers will be used to write a short report, which you can read on our blog next Monday.

 
Create your own user feedback survey
24d ago.

Liveblog: midweek round-up

 

We’re into the sixth week of lockdown but our liveblog is still going strong. Here are the highlights you may have missed from the last week.

  • There’s been a couple of incredible blog posts appear over the last seven days. Both Martin's Order out of chaos: Creating a Rule of Life and Rachel’s Is TV's Sex Lockdown "Too Hot to Handle?" are definitely worth checking out!
  • Mark Arnold was a guest on the Friday podcast and provided some great insights into the challenges many young people with additional needs are facing right now and the best ways youth workers can support them.
  • The last in our series of quarantine ideas was published this week; the last post was all about how to run a quiz night with your youth group while in lockdown. The complete series is available on the blog and provides ideas and inspirations for how to plan fun social activities for your group to do together online.
  • Multiple posts came out this week highlighting a range of different online resources and training, for example, Soul Survivor's Loud & Clear course and Dreaming the Impossible's online youth leader gathering.
  • Lastly, if you're concerned about the vulnerable young people in your community, do check out the new report released today by the National Youth Agency. It talks through concerning situations many young people are facing as a result of the pandemic and emphasises the need for a clear exit strategy for young people who are likely to be included in the early stages of release.

As always, we want to thank you so much for your support and if there’s something you’d love to see or even something you want to contribute in coming weeks please get in touch!

 
29d ago.

Quarantine idea #7: Quiz Night

 

Just about everyone seems to have been involved in a video-chat quiz at some point over the last few weeks. It’s a great way of doing something fun as a group while being apart. It’s also a great thing to do as a youth group. You could run it as an outreach or social event and encourage young people to get their friends involved.

If you want to run a quiz for your youth group here are some pointers to help get you started:

  1. While you could opt for the traditional quiz rounds – general knowledge, music, sports, etc – it’ll be more exciting to the group if you include some rounds more specific to them. For example, why not include some questions about the area where you live? You could put up pictures of roads or well-known places and ask them to name them. Or what about a leaders’ baby picture round – match which picture belongs to which leader.
  2. Get inventive with your questions. Keep it fun and interesting but remember who your audience is – make sure there are a few easier questions thrown into the mix.
  3. It’s probably a good idea to keep each round quite short to make sure you are keeping everyone’s attention.
  4. Try and make it as visual as possible. If your video-chat platform of choice has a share screen function, make use of it! Create a PowerPoint and include pictures, logos, etc for the group to identify.

One last thing to mention is a great programme called Kahoot! which allows you to create quizzes online. Questions are viewed on a shared screen and players answer individually on their own devices. For more information and tutorials on how to run a Kahoot! quiz, check out their website.

Happy quizzing!

 
Liveblog quiz
29d ago.

Dreaming the Impossible: Youth Leaders Gathering

 

Dreaming the Impossible are holding a free online gathering for youth workers on Monday 11th May at 7.30pm. They'll have the brilliant Dr Kate Middleton and Matt Summerfield speaking on the topic of: "Leading Young People Through Covid-19". It promises to be an inspiring evening. Sign up here!

 
Liveblog dtievent
29d ago.

Podcast: Young People with Additional Needs

 

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 Martin Saunders talks to Mark Arnold about the challenges many young people with additional needs are facing right now and the best ways youth workers can support them. BONUS: listen out for a meerkat tangent!

You can listen now here, and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode, here.

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