Burnley Together: Supporting young people through Covid-19

A Burnley community hub has been working non-stop to support young people throughout the pandemic.

The team at Participation Works in Burnley
The team at Participation Works in Burnley

From isolation and mental health, to escalated responsibilities within the home and concerns about their own future, Burnley Together has proven a vital resource for young people in the community.

Here is a small insight to some of the work that the Burnley Together teams have been doing, and continue to do, to help support those people and their families:

Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Council for Voluntary Service​

Normally through their Young Carers, Female Empowerment, and We Count Projects, the team would meet face-to-face, but instead have delivered 130 one-one-one support sessions using digital technologies. Since the outbreak the service has directly helped and supported 85 families.

Support has included family coping strategies, one-on-ones with young carers and parents, and signposting parents in need of support with food, prescriptions, befriending and more.

Without school meals, many families really struggle to provide their children three meals per day; CVS has delivered over 30 food parcels to support families in need.

The Young Carers project has continued to engage with the children and families by posting plenty of social media content; from motivational support and uplifting messages, to ideas for fun while at home including, craft activities and budget baking recipes.

Young carers have been encouraged to record their lockdown experiences in journals, vlogs and blogs.

Ten-year-old Dainton converted an old shoe box into a kind words box and left it on his wall for people to pick one out.

Many words have since been taken, and Dainton and his mum, Rachael, have heard some people giggling and saying thanks. He’s even been left money, which he is now saving.

Dainton said: “Kindness means being nice to others, sharing with friends and others.”

One young carer who was struggling with isolation was given a new phone donated though Burnley Together so he could stay in contact with friends.

Jennifer, aged nine, said of her lockdown experience, “While being at home I’ve been helping my mum and trying to be nice with each other, but sometimes it’s very hard as it’s just me and her. We both worry sometimes and take it out on each other. I try my hardest to be good and control my worry, but I get lonely.”

One-to-one support for foster carers and looked after children is delivered remotely, too. One supported child didn’t have access to a device for support sessions during lockdown so they were provided with a tablet.

BPRCVS distributed educational packs to children to help learning and relieve boredom. Parents have commented about feeling stressed and anxious about home-schooling and the pressure of having to provide their child’s education.

BPRCVS Children and Families has seen a worrying trend increasing from parents, carers, children and young people alike that the lockdown has had a huge impact on their wellbeing. With significant increases in anxiety, depression, lack of motivation and a general feeling of low mood among both children and young people, and parents and carers.

BPRCVS Children and Families also support Syrian refugee families relocated to Burnley and Pendle through the Lancashire County Council Refugee Resettlement Programme. Usually families attend English for Speakers of Other Languages classes in typical classroom settings however Zoom and WhatsApp classes have taken place instead.

The ESOL project remains in contact with the families and encouraged them to create regular routines, exercise and participate in arts and crafts with their children.

Intesar Arnous, who helped her children set up ‘Cups of Kindness, said: "Today's initiative is spreading joy and hope, with simple things and cute phrases that can change someone's day. Be the source of hope and inspiration for others; let your children participate in this work to learn from childhood by being inspired and influential in their community.”

Brighter Lives

Brighter Lives North West is a Community Interest Company which offers support to young people with mental health and domestic abuse needs.

During lockdown, they have been supporting those in the community who need it via social media, 1-1 support via video call, texts and calls and have been sending out wellbeing packs to young people to support their mental health during this time.

The wellbeing packs included worry journals, wellbeing journals, mindfulness journals for teens and letting go journals. They also included more bespoke wellbeing packs alongside the journals to help meet the needs of each young person and provide a creative, practical outlet.

Alongside the online support and journals, the team have also been delivering some direct work in primary schools following social distancing rules.

Participation Works

Participation Works in Burnley is a not-for-profit organisation serving the young people and communities of East Lancashire. As a grassroots organisation, they hold charitable values and deliver positive activities - and options for positive choices - to benefit the health, wellbeing and aspirations of young people and their families.

The team have been using social media and one-on-one support for those that need additional help and advice.

From July 1st, they will also have a team of youth workers engaging with young people out in public areas (from a safe distance of course), checking on their safety, having a chat, building relationships and finding out what additional support needs and issues young people have faced during lockdown.

Over the summer holidays, they will be out and about in the community, delivering packed lunches and activity packs to young people. The team have recently undertaken bereavement and loss training for young people to enable them offer this critical support when their youth projects re-start.