Lessons from Lockdown 1.0

  • Samira
  • November 16, 2020


As we enter the second lockdown, an evaluation report into FYA’s work during the first lockdown identifies positive mental health outcomes achieved through remote working.

When schools went into lockdown in March, FYA immediately swung into action. Within a week, a Digital Steering Group of young people was set up to guide its online work. A survey of 122 young people established peer support as one of the most popular activities members wanted to engage in. By week 2 of the lockdown, FYA was delivering social action programmes online.

Between the 26th March to 13th August over 175 young people took part in these online peer support programmes. Through new partnerships FYA forged with other youth agencies, it was able to engage new cohorts of vulnerable young people, many of who were hit extra hard by the impact of the lockdown. These included young people whose parents are in conflict, young people impacted by HIV, young people with mental health problems and young refugees and asylum seekers.

Young people were engaged in making films documenting the lockdown experience, training to be peer mentors, training and acting as young leaders within FYA and the wider community. During this period 96 young people gained AQA qualifications through these programmes. Between them they accumulated 198 AQA awards.

It improved my mental health. At that point I was someone who didn’t know what to do. I was cooped up in the house. One of the big things I lost out on was interaction. This allowed me to interact with young people, have routine and do something” (Young person, Digital group)

I have been using the tips (from peer mentoring) to apply to myself. I looked at ways of coping with stress” (young person, Peer mentoring)

FYA has evaluated this work to see what impact it had for our young volunteers. We found that young people who took part in FYA programmes reported that it was beneficial for their mental health and wellbeing in a number of areas:

o It provided structure to their week and something productive and social to look forward too

o It benefited their mental health as they learnt about tips for wellbeing

o It increased their confidence – especially amongst those who delivered their own workshops or created films

o It was a safe space to discuss some of the significant social changes that were impacting their lives such as Black Lives Matter movement, Covid-19 pandemic and social justice issues

Young people also reported increased skills and knowledge in:

o How to work in a team

o How to facilitate a session online

o Listening skills

These findings came from in depth interviews and focus groups (analysed with thematic analysis). They were supported by the findings from young people’s scores on the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Health Wellbeing Scale (SWEMHWBS). Baseline and exit SWEMHWBS surveys showed the number of young identified by the SWEMHWBS scale as having ‘low wellbeing’ reduced significantly, from 24% at the start of the programme to 7% by the end.

As the country enters its second lockdown in November 2020, FYA is able to continue the online support work pioneered during the first lockdown. FYA will be working with staff and young people over the next month to explore the evaluation and look at how our programmes continue to adapt, capitalising on some of the positives that emerged from the lockdown changes to programmes.

Click here to read the summary of findings and recommendations for online delivery in full. For more information or to see the full report, which will be available later this month, please contact Andre Schott, FYA’s Chief Executive at andre.schott@fya.org.uk.

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