When planning youth work activities during a pandemic, it is crucial to recognize the wider impact of this situation on youth work. To this end, here are the results of a study on the effects of the pandemic on youth work in Europe (RAY-COR). Below you will find short highlights of the research. The results of the research are presented by Andreas Karsten, a journalist and researcher (Hostnik, 2020).
The RAY-COR survey identified both bad and good effects and was done in collaboration with national agencies such as Slovenian one – Movit and universities, with the aim of determining the extent to which youth work was accessible to young people during a pandemic. Research has shown that a pandemic has the greatest impact on the mental health of young people, which is why we can also talk about a mental crisis. The pandemic has also had a major impact on youth employment and education. (Hostnik, 2020).
What is then the good news? Youth work has quickly come to digital online platforms where young people have been able to discuss more serious topics and their future. And the bad one? The most excluded were marginalized groups of young people who fell out of the reach of social networks (Hostnik, 2020).
Below, here is a good practice The Center for Youth Assistance (CPM) on how to how to adapt your work online:
The Center for Youth Assistance (CPM) is a non-governmental and non-profit organization that offers free psychosocial counseling and the possibility of free psychotherapy to young people between the ages of 15 and 30, and those associated with them, with experienced experts in the field of psychosocial counseling and working with young people.
The counseling center welcomes all young people who find themselves in various difficulties, who do not know or cannot solve them on their own and who need support in finding suitable solutions for themselves. Often, the plight of young people is related to relationships with parents, peers, partners, authorities, or loneliness. Relative problems of young people, however, are reflected in the form of various behaviors such as escape from addiction, eating disorders, low self-esteem, self-harm, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and other forms of mental distress (Romih, 2021).
During the epidemic, the association created an additional digital activity “Scene without a name”, where they created an open online environment in which participants can anonymously expose their plight. Based on the expressed hardships and challenges, young people with similar problems discuss and look for solutions. This creates more understanding, young people get an interlocutor who they do not have in the real world without this activity (Hostnik, 2020).
Certainly, with the online implementation, they have reached young people who would not otherwise. Even before the epidemic, young people from all over Slovenia visited the counseling center, and online implementation is certainly logistically more acceptable for those who do not live in Ljubljana or its surroundings (Hostnik, 2020).
The project came out of the need to offer young people from the counseling center who are experiencing similar challenges, as well as other young people who would be interested in the project, a safe place to talk. The response of the young people was surprising, at this moment it is a challenge for the association to ensure the regular implementation of activities. If they were to start the project again, they would pay more attention to the time availability of the staff that implements it, include the activity in the annual plans, make a strategy (who implements what and the scope of implementation) (Hostnik, 2020).
If you would like to know more recommendations on how to tackle online youth work, more information is available here.