During the coronavirus pandemic, many youth groups had to transition from youth centres to online groups. In some cases, the transition has been successful as new online communities have developed, which help to tackle issues ranging from mental health to employment support. However, many youth groups are struggling due to the financial downturn of fundraising and the decline within employment and access to professionals. This is also relayed within my personal experiences of volunteering within local youth groups during the pandemic. In this blog, I would like to talk about the effects of the recent lockdown within local youth groups and how youth groups are adapting to this crisis.
Lack of an online presence and relatability
Due to the previous lockdowns and the new third lockdown, there has been a lack of online presence and direction for young people to access youth groups. Many existing charities are struggling with reaching out to young people as there is a lack of clarity on these groups’ purpose. Despite the increased efforts to create welcoming and safe spaces for everyone, young people are not being felt as the events are not tailored to their needs and aims.
Youth groups have used a top-down approach with the use of professional and community leaders have not been able to engage with young people as there is a lack of understanding and relatability on educational disruption and access to employment opportunities.
Lack of advertising and budget structure
Due to the pandemic and the lack of fundraising, many charities have had to restructure their budgets leading to the reduction of fun-based activities and socials. Other areas such as staffing and running costs have also been affected, putting more strain on similar youth groups to cope with the increasing demand.
Many charities are currently liaising with local businesses to improve their awareness and advertising to the local community. However, due to the rising expenses within buildings and online services, some of these plans have been cut short or are made inaccessible due to the restrictions from the third national lockdown.
What changes are currently taking place within youth groups?
Many young people are entering this sector through volunteering during their spare time, or they are obtaining employment within youth groups and youth-based charities. This means that many charities and youth groups are becoming increasingly more youth-centred towards current issues as redundancies, being placed on furlough, or applying for universal credit for the first time.
There has been a rapid development for support groups to specific topics for young people who may have had their education, and mental health disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been more of a focus on crime prevention and essential things such as mental health awareness especially within inner cities and deprived areas across the country.