The Care Journeys Team in Barnardo’s have provided general tips on digital engagement with young people as well as guidance for implementing this recipe well.
Meet young people where they are – use platforms they are familiar with or already use to reduce barriers for them to get involved. The team has found that it doesn’t actually matter what platform you use, as long as it does what you need and is safe .
Involve young people in planning and running online groups to make sure the content and platforms you use is engaging and relevant.
Keep groups small – no more than 4-6 people. Once groups get bigger than this (online or offline) they become less intimate and it becomes harder to create strong bonds. So, instead of adding more and more young people to one group, create clusters to maintain intimacy as you scale.
Be playful – play games together, be silly, dance, tell bad (or good!) jokes, this is as important as ‘doing things’ together.
Create regular reflection sessions to learn and adapt to young people’s changing needs and ensure you iterate regularly.
Your role as a worker is to provide structure, energy and facilitate co-production. This includes things like setting up a schedule for the time you work together (based on what works for the group), providing structure for planning sessions, accountability setting, emotionally supporting the group as well as ensuring that they have the resources they need to achieve their goals.
Ensure that you gather consent you need from participants in online groups– if you are using online forms it’s a good idea to talk through the form on the phone with a young person so you know they have read it and understand their rights.
Put simple safeguarding measures in place. Arrange 1-1 calls with every young person (and their parent or guardian if the young person is under 18) before they join the group to get to know a bit about them and their needs. Store your documentation and notes on a safe, easily accessible server or secure cloud platform.
Make sure young people don’t feel pressure to be online all the time: set up group agreements to clarify expectations and ensure young people know who they can reach out to if there is an issue or concern.
Many thanks to Barnardo's for contributing this recipe.
Do you have thoughts on this recipe? We would love to hear from you.