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Reaching out to young people during lockdown

Carys Nelkon, Head of Programmes

I oversee all of our work with young people here at Arts Emergency. Our team and volunteers have done a lot of quick thinking and pivoting during this crisis. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that long term support is available for young people so that this crisis doesn’t put them at a further disadvantage. We want them to know that the future is still theirs for the taking.

A few ways we’ve been helping young people:

  • Mentoring has moved online and become more focussed on wellbeing, routine and keeping up with schoolwork. 82% of our mentees told us Arts Emergency has had a positive effect on their life during lockdown.
  • We’ve stepped up support for those experiencing really difficult circumstances.
  • We coordinated 72 online work experience placements across the UK at organisations including the BBC, Time Out and Curtis Brown literary agency. 96% of placement attendees feel confident that what they learnt during these placements will help them in the future.
  • Our monthly opportunity emails have included online courses, the internet’s best cultural content and extra support from our Network.
  • We recognised that young people found a lack of privacy when speaking with their mentors as a barrier during lockdown. To help, we sent out over 40 headphones sets to assist with remote mentoring.
  • We’ve been collating and sharing reliable and up to date information on exams, school and higher education.
  • Hetty, our London Programme Officer, designed beautiful illustrated worksheets for mentor pairs.
  • We launched our Youth Collective, training seven inspiring young people to lead on advocacy and community building over the next 18 months.
  • We curated an online residency to help our young people to feel more confident, inspired and to encourage mental wellbeing. We heard from amazing speakers including Travis Alabanza, Amina Gichinga, Yomi Adegoke, Nicole Crentsil and Nikesh Shukla.
  • We're running regular careers-focused online workshops and Q&A sessions with 26 volunteer arts professionals.
  • We continue to connect our Young Community to the Arts Emergency Network through our Wish List, we’ve made 120 connections this year so far.
  • We’ve also sent out over 120 creative packs to young people across the country.

We’ve also been working hard to prepare for 2021, it’ll be our first year running a mentoring scheme in Merseyside and we’re also increasing nationwide by opening up mentoring to 18-25 year olds. In January, we’ll be working with more young people than ever before.

I am reminded time and again working at Arts Emergency of how strong we can be when we work together. Because of our network, we were able to deliver all these opportunities. At a time where nearly everything else was seemingly cancelled, our community has shown up.

I want to say a big thank you to all the volunteers, donors, mentors, teachers, staff and of course the young people who put their energy into making the world a more equitable and creative place. I hope that you feel proud to be part of Arts Emergency. It’s your organisation and we couldn’t exist without you. We’re here for the long haul and we’re going to continue to work towards a better world together.