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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.

7d 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.

Hear about the latest Youthscape News & Resources

28d 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.
1d ago.

The Thursday 3x3

 

The Thursday 3x3 is a chance for us to ask Christian youth workers in the UK about their experiences during 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 (again) how you’ve been feeling this week, any positive impact of lockdown, and your experience of social distancing guidelines and young people.

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. You can find the results of last week's survey here.

 
Create your own user feedback survey
3d 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."

3d ago.

The Monday Report: Lockdown creativity, half-term breaks & youth worker encouragement

 

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 34 responses and this is not a representative group, so we can’t generalise from these answers to all Christian youth workers in the UK.

You can read the full report here.

1. Lockdown creativity: Treehouses, knitting and TikTok

For many people, lockdown has created the conditions to take up new hobbies or uncover buried creativity. So, we asked ‘Have young people you know been engaging in any creative activities to keep themselves occupied during lockdown?’ Three quarters said ‘Yes’, and 24 provided examples including: baking, painting, construction, journaling, making music, mindful colouring, writing, designing, knitting, gardening, making YouTube videos, learning musical instruments, mini artworks, stop-motion, woodwork, photography and coding.

MRP Picture 1
 

2. Half-term breaks?

At Easter time we asked you if you expected to slow down for the break and it was a really mixed bag. So, with another break upon us* we asked, “Are you stopping youth work activities over half term?” The majority (64.7%) aren’t stopping, although 14.7% of these are doing something a bit different this week. Just under a quarter are taking a break because that’s what they would normally do while 8.8% wouldn’t usually stop but sense the need for a break.

Of those who arestopping, many told us they are feeling tired. Some people pushed on through Easter but are stopping now, and some told us that they felt young people needed a break too. Some of those who are carrying on told us that young people and their parents still valued ‘meeting up’, and though they would usually stop they feel the need to “continue with our new normal”. One person reflected that “It seems like an opportunity missed if we stop for half term.”

3. Words of encouragement from one youth worker to another

Finally, as we enter week 10 of lockdown, it felt like a good moment to ask you, in one sentence, what other Christian youth workers might need to hear this week. We had a lovely message in there from a church leader who said “Take a day or two off. We love you and appreciate what you are still doing. Thanks for learning new skills and using them before you were probably ready.” I’ve summarised the key messages that were shared, with an example under each heading. Thank you so much for your contributions – I hope they encourage and affirm you!

What you are doing is important – “You are providing something stable and certain to young people when there seems very little certainty and everything keeps changing for them. Don’t underestimate the value of this.”

Just stay connected to young people – “Simply maintaining connection to the young people is the key thing at the moment; deeper conversations, teaching and spiritual formation may have to wait for now - and that's okay.”

Don’t judge yourself – “Don't make judgements on your calling or how good a youth worker you are. You're doing your best, this is not a fair time of evaluation for you or the young people.”

You’re not alone – “Feel unproductive, guilty about not doing enough but still being fully paid. You're not alone.”

You have limits, you will need to rest – “A youth worker’s job is never done. Log off and go outside…”

And when you reach the edge of what you can do, God is present, powerful and at work – “If you are finding it tough to engage young people over technology, you are not alone. And it doesn’t mean God has stopped working with them.”

Look up – what is God doing? – “Resist the urge to go back to normal. What is the new landscape God is helping you see?”

Don’t give up – “Keep going! It's tough I get it, but God is at work and doing so much more than you can see.”

God is with you - “Oh, God is just rejoicing over you. He loves you so much.”

8d ago.

The Thursday 3x3 (Week 9)

 

After a pause last week while we launched ‘We do God’, we’re back with the Thursday 3x3! It’s a chance for us to ask Christian youth workers in the UK about their experiences during 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 about half-term, creativity and your message to other youth workers.

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
8d 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!

10d 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.

 
14d 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.

14d 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."

15d 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
15d ago.

A 3x3 holiday

 

It's been a busy week for the Research team! Our latest research report, We do God, has been released. It's all about youth ministry and spiritual practices, and you can read about it here (including free sample download), or purchase digital/hard copy versions of it here.

And Lucie Shuker tells us all about it in the latest podcast, too. Don't forget our Monday report on last week's 3x3 either.

All that is to say, there's much Research goodness for you to enjoy, but there's no Thursday 3x3 survey this week. Sorry. See you next week!

16d ago.

Podcast: We Do God with Dr Lucie Shuker

 

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 meets returning guest Dr Lucie Shuker, Director of the Youthscape Centre for Research to explore the "We Do God" research and the implications for the youth ministry community.

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

18d 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…

21d 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.

22d ago.

The Thursday 3x3

 

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 about faith at home, young people’s questions and your own spiritual practice.

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.

Thank you so much for taking part!

 
Create your own user feedback survey
22d 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
23d ago.

"We Do God" launch

 

Check out the video of Dr Lucie Shuker below, here to tell you about the launch of our newest research report, "We do God".

"Youth workers know how to create an experience: whether it’s choosing the right music, taking young people to new places or creating some ritual that only your youth group will ever understand. But when it comes to faith, much of church culture focuses on learning about ideas rather than direct practice.

This new report from the Youthscape Centre for Research highlights the experiences of youth workers who invite young people within and beyond the church to experiment with Christian faith. Through case studies, interviews and survey data we identify which practices are being used and what people are learning about practice-based ministry."

We'll be going live on our Facebook on Tuesday 12th May at 11am to unpack the findings and apply it to the current context we're living in. Don't miss it! You can pre-order the hard copy of the report here, and a digital download will be available for purchase (alongside a free sample download) upon release.

 
24d 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.

25d 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!

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