Youth Justice Voices: connecting young people during COVID-19

Ruth Kerracher, Youth Justice Participation Worker for Youth Justice Voices, CYCJ and Staf’s creative participation project, shares how the group is staying involved and active during the COVID-19 UK lockdown.

Care and justice experienced young people involved in Staf and CYCJ’s Youth Justice Voices project have been asked to participate in various pieces of work that will help to influence and inform policy and practice affecting care and justice experienced young people. Due to COVID-19, we are currently exploring how we can keep young people connected and involved.

On March 23 we hosted our first Youth Just Us online Zoom session. Young people involved in the session shared how they were keen to keep connected, to talk about well-being and make plans for the group. Like all of the project’s work, engagement is completely voluntary; we’re exploring different ways to keep in touch and engaged. Some of the group decided that they would like to try another forum so we created ‘Whatsapp Wednesdays’. This small closed group, which has clear and agreed ground rules and is managed by me, has the specific focus of setting group challenges to keep each other busy and also to pose care and justice related questions in the future.

Staf have also supported young people in the project to stay digitally connected with mobile phone top-up vouchers, vouchers for food and other creative activities such as mindfulness colouring books to keep people busy.

Artivism, the collaborative arts and issue-based project that the group is working on with Articulate Cultural Trust and Scottish artist Scott Lang (Slang), will now hold its final exhibition online. Six young people’s creative masterpieces will be showcased digitally on April 6 – get a sneak peek here…

Watch this space for further information!

Alongside Barnardo’s Youth Work Team, we are exploring ways to encourage and keep our young people involved in the project in HMP&YOI Polmont during this difficult time. The group, who’ve been working really hard, recently agreed on a name for their group – Inside Out. “We are in the jail and the people we work with are on the outside”- this was referring to Youth Just Us group they work alongside under Youth Justice Voices, staff, services and the people they want to influence as they take their views from inside to the outside world.

Ruth is hosting a virtual Zoom meeting with practitioners interested in supporting one another with digital participation groups this Friday at 11am. You should contact ruth@staf.scot directly if interested.

Video and photo credit to Laura Frood at Articulate Cultural Trust.


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