19 January 2021

As with any challenge, Youth Workers have worked tirelessly to adapt their practice in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure they can continue their essential work supporting young people to overcome challenges and become independent young adults. We have witnessed this first-hand here at YMCA Newcastle by our dedicated Youth Work team. They have creatively adapted projects to comply with Government guidance, up-skilled themselves in tech and digital to be where young people are and have collaboratively worked with partner organisations to provide vital support at this unprecedented time.

The team have managed to turn this challenge into an opportunity. Although the digital world is the young person’s domain, Youth Work still continues to be dominated by face-to-face interactions. There are many reasons for this being the case, the most substantial being that face-to-face interactions allow Youth Workers to build trusting relationships with young people, which is integral to successful Youth Work. However, Covid-19 and social distancing has dragged the world of Youth Work into the 21st century and forced it to embrace digital.

With social interactions with those outside our households temporarily on hold, social media and other digital platforms provide us with the ability to continue communicating with young people. Our Youth Workers truthfully admit that their knowledge of social media in March 2020 was far from perfect, but they have spent the last few months up-skilling themselves and updating their practice. Printed leaflets have been replaced by announcements on our organisation social media pages, group sessions now take place via Facebook group chats and one-to-one support is communicated through private chats or video calls.

Our move to digital Youth Work is supplemented by weekly activity and support packs that are delivered to our service users’ homes. Each pack contains information, advice and guidance from ourselves and partner organisations, as well as resources that enable young people to try out the activities demonstrated within the following weeks online content.

Concerned that an online move would lose the personal touch that youth work relies upon, our Youth Workers have been busy producing engaging content starring themselves to maintain and build personal relationships with young people. An excellent example of this is a video posted by our Youth Workers just last week in which they attempted the ‘Ping Pong Pan’ challenge and invited viewers to record themselves attempting the challenge at home, and to share the video on our page. That week’s activity pack included Ping Pong balls enabling them to attempt the challenge at home. Watch the video below.


Why not attempt the Ping Pong Pan challenge yourself?  And share a video of how you got on with us!

You may be asking ‘how exactly is creating and sharing challenge videos online youth work?’. Well, content like this allows our Youth Workers to build trusting relationships with young people. Over time these relationships develop, and young people open up. Our Youth Workers are then able to identify young people’s vulnerabilities and offer appropriate information, advice and guidance. Whether that be confidence building through an accredited training programme such as the Jass Award or employability support at our Job Club. Focussing on building relationships with young people allows YMCA Newcastle to offer a truly holistic approach to Youth Work.


Interested in supporting YMCA Newcastle and our work with young people and the community? We’d love to hear from you! We are currently recruiting new Trustees and volunteers. Please contact us for more information via email at jeff.hurst@ymcanewcastle.com