Keep workers involved
Barnardo’s suggests that you have more than one person running an activity and keep staff members involved in all sessions and activities. This is so that if the situation changes and the initial team of young people cannot run the session, the staff member can pick it up. Sharing the responsibility also helps relieve pressure on any one person to lead the session.
In another group, there were two youth colleagues running a session. Due to lockdown, one youth colleague had to step back and the other was furloughed. This meant that a Barnardo’s staff member had to step in and pick up the group activity.
It can be more difficult to read body language or interpret social cues over any video conferencing platforms. Try to make these digital spaces open and inviting for youth colleagues to feel comfortable to use. Some young people may not feel like switching their cameras on during calls, so please respect everyone’s privacy and decisions to do what they need to do to feel comfortable.
It may be harder to gauge how youth colleagues are truly feeling as the removed physical contact can result in lower quality interactions.
This may be countered in one way by checking in and out before and after meetings to make sure you gauge the emotional responses of youth colleagues.
Make time for 1-1 calls with your team or your manager so that issues can be properly discussed on the phone and worked through together
The lack of physical interactions may cause an invisible barrier, where youth colleagues may not share as much information with you as they would if you were face to face.
Assisted Digital Users
Some young people may not have all the technology and/ or skills to be able to use some online digital platforms. They may also not have access to all of the digital technologies.
This is particularly true for young people who are not used to, or have never had to do things remotely before. Having how-to guidance readily available can be helpful to resolve common problems.
Be patient in allowing young people to learn at their own pace, in their own way.
Early adopters, and young people who are comfortable with supporting others remotely from home, can offer informal support for example by talking to another young person through the steps of setting up a zoom meeting, or sharing their screen so others can see how they do that.
Remote things are slower, be patient
The speed of supporting young people remotely is different to face-to-face. This sometimes results in some things taking longer than before, but other things will be noticeably faster and more efficient.
Be patient with young people and yourself - the new working setups are different and young people may be dealing with higher levels of stress and potentially, vicarious stress from others in their family or environment.
Supporting young people emotionally can help them help others better. Barnardo’s believes that ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup!’
Many thanks to Barnardo's for contributing this recipe.
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