27 May 2020

We’re running a series of blogs from our members of staff who are continuing to work with vulnerable children and young people during the current COVID-19 crisis. Some staff are working directly with young people in our frontline housing services and others are continuing their vital work virtually.

Next in the series is Anna, a Youth Mentor working in our Early Help youth team providing targeted support to young people. She tells her story, in her own words:

What’s your job and how long have you worked for YMCA East Surrey?
I’m a Youth Mentor with YMCA East Surrey’s Early Help youth team and have worked here for five years.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Being able to help young people to make positive changes to their lives.

How has your job changed under lockdown?
Like a lot of services, we can no longer meet young people face-to-face and have to support them over the telephone. The Early Help provision has also adapted during this time to extend our service and offer support to families, as well as the young people.

We have helped parents and carers with ideas and techniques for coping with family life in lockdown. This support has been received with great gratitude.

Describe a typical day…
Before lockdown, I would have multiple one-to-one meetings with young people. These would be in schools, in local coffee shops, or even in their own home. This work continues now, just not in person, but I am still supporting young people with any issues they may be struggling with. I help them to identify ways to cope and changes they can make to improve their wellbeing and/or lifestyle choices.

What are the new challenges that the young people you work with are facing?
Predominately the social side of life. Young people report they are missing having face-to-face contact with their friends and being able to socialise.

Have you had any particularly memorable moments at work since lockdown began?
One of my long-term clients has made significant progress in being able to look to the future and make positive decisions about his future education choices. Moments like this are really rewarding.

What advice would you give to young people during lockdown?
Each day make sure you set aside some time to do something you enjoy, whether it’s listening to music, exercising, catching up with friends, or baking, any small thing that will make you feel happy and allow you to switch off for a short time.