As the country endures a third lockdown with further school and college closures, the impact on young people and the vital support offered by youth organisations in Manchester cannot be understated.
From May to November 2020 We Love MCR Charity funded the A6 Play & Youth Partnership (made up of M13 Youth Project, Anson Cabin Project and Levenshulme Youth Project) to deliver vital youth work sessions to young people to ensure they remained safe, their health and mental wellbeing was supported, that young people had a place to voice their feelings and concerns and were supported to engage in safe positive activities. Read more about the different packages of grants we gave to Manchester organisations from our Covid-19 Community Response Fund here. The A6 Partnership are one of the incredible Manchester youth partnerships, which bring together multiple existing groups to provide activities and support in their particular area – with this focussing on the Stockport Road corridor, servicing the communities of Ardwick, Longsight and Levenshulme.
The Partnership offered weekly sessions in local parks and estates and walked round the community to engage with young people. Through these sessions, workers were able to check in with young people and listen to their experiences, offer referrals to foodbanks, deliver laptops and resources, give out arts and craft packs, connect young people with opportunities and help young people deal with stresses, especially around schooling.
The Partnership were also able to offer weekly play and youth sessions at Anson Cabin. Some sessions have been in person and others delivered online (dependent on the level of restrictions in place) offering quizzes, arts and crafts, challenges and a space to talk about Covid 19 and its impact.
The partnership told us about one child in particular, aged eleven years old, who was very concerned about the use of disposable masks on transition to high school and the effect they had on the environment. So during one of the play sessions she worked with a small group of children to design posters for our newsletter around the use of face masks why we wear them, how they help to protect us and why throwing them on the street isn’t good for the environment (see below picture)
The Partnership have said to us that:
“‘Covid-19 and its impacts has been a regular topic of conversation at the centre of our sessions for the majority of this year: giving children and young people the correct information, exploring the changing lockdown/tier scenarios and ensuring they are supported has been key to our activities. All of the children and young people we work with have been directly affected in some way or another by Covid-19 including social isolation and not going to school or college, not being able to see their friends, struggling with being forced to stay home.”
“They have also had to witness parents, siblings and other people they know with Covid, loss of income in the family home, which they have adapted to with the support of our groups and from each other, and loss of opportunities, such as exams, end of school celebrations and football contracts cancelled. Young people have continuously shared their feelings and concerns with us, either one to one or in a group, which has worked well giving moral support to each other.”
The support offered by the A6 Partnership has been vital to young people during the pandemic. We Love MCR are proud that this support continues through their partnership to the Manchester Rising Stars Fund, a fund that supports ambitious young Mancunians onto their next step Education, Employment or training. Read more about the Fund at www.welovemcrcharity.org/rising-stars/