European Social Fund (ESF) case study - Include Youth Give and Take - 3

Give and Take, delivered by Include Youth, aims to improve the employability skills and self-esteem of young people aged 16 to 24 who are not in employment, education or training (NEET), who face complex barriers to engagement, and who come from communities of greatest disadvantage. This programme assists young people in progressing into education, employment and/or training.

The project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Participant's story

This case study tells how a young female participant, who is the carer for a number of her siblings, did not let the impact of Covid-19 get in her way.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the issues affecting young people on the programme included poverty, isolation, family breakdown and poor mental health, as well as lack of employment. Covid-19 only heightened the issues that were already apparent and presented challenges to safely delivering a service that met the needs of young people who needed the support of the programme more than ever.

A blended approach

An online learning approach was something that excluded many participants due to digital poverty and the fact they were already facing social poverty, often not having access to heating and electricity. A blended approach was adapted to suit the needs of each participant to ensure they were provided with the support they needed during these challenging times. Zoom calls posed as the new group work setting for some, whilst others relied heavily on daily phone calls or letters through the post.

This participant began engaging with Give and Take: Start pre-lock down and, aspired to work with young people in a field of caring, knew that she needed to obtain some skills to add to her toolkit. She discussed having low self-confidence, so the programme began working with her on her personal development. She quickly recognised she had lots to offer and already had many skills that could transfer into her dream job.

Innovative solutions

When lockdown hit, the participant did not have access to internet, so she spent most of her time engaging with the programme via phone calls; often with the noise of family life going on in the background and other siblings wanting in on the chat. Schools had ended for summer and she realised that for her to manage her day to day life she needed to implement some routines with her family. The participant designed a ‘holiday package’ for her family which included DIY games in her garden and some routine and structure to their day. She would check in daily to provide an update on the latest challenge and showcase her family’s creativity in combating Covid boredom.

The participant’s commitment and drive to support her family whilst engaging with Give and Take: Start is commendable. In a time when her access to services was limited, she came up with innovative ways to participate and include them. Her organisation skills and confidence have improved, and she now supports Give and Take to engage new referrals onto the programme. The participant will continue with the course, and hopefully when lockdown eases will be able to move on into Higher Education or a job, but for now she will continue to save the world, one sibling at a time.

She says,

“I have really enjoyed the support from the staff on Start who check in with me and keep me sane. Thanks for giving me something to keep focused on during this crazy time.”

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