Youth Work under lockdown. So how do we do this? Lauren Barclay reports.

The latest post on Youth & Policy is very much of the moment and well worth perusing.

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Youth Work under lockdown. So how do we do this? – read in full

Lauren Barclay, a 22-year-old youth worker for Youth Focus North West, reflects on her experience so far of youth work under lockdown and the sudden shift to digital youth work. She concludes that youth workers will learn alongside young people and calls on them to change their practices while holding to youth work principles, particularly of keeping young people at the centre of the work.

At the beginning she comments:

My background in youth work may be different to many. Aged 22, I have recently started working for the organization, Youth Focus North West. I was previously involved in a number of their projects as a young person myself. Aged 11, I joined Trafford Youth Cabinet and from there, entered the incredible world of youth voice, activism and participation. My ten years of being a young person involved in youth work have given me more skills than you can possibly imagine, and the opportunities I was given, I thought had prepared me for anything Youth Work could throw at me. That was of course, until Covid-19.

She closes by saying:

Working online and at home is hard. Isolation from colleagues and those around us isn’t something we are used to. Youth workers are inherently sociable people; we thrive off of activities, discussions and debates, as do many of the young people we work with. There is no denying that our work will throw many challenges at us over the upcoming weeks and months. There is no doubt that what we are going through will change the way we work in years to come. The plans for digital work we had in five years’ time, have now been catapulted into the here and now, and we have no choice but to work with them.

We will get things wrong, we will get things right. We will fail, and we will try again. Most importantly we will learn. We will learn alongside young people. And, like most countries around the globe, we will come out with new found skills and knowledge, and an appreciation for the work we do every day.

Youth work has once again shown its flexibility in an often-inflexible world. It has shown its ability to manifest into something new. With its principles anchoring it, like some sturdy oil rig in the North Sea. These principles are what will keep us grounded in our practice, a practice that should always keep young people at the heart.


  1. […] As a youth worker in a small London based organisation I wanted to share my experience, taking the journey from developing online youth work to furlough, which offers a contrasting perspective to the recent article in this journal entitled ‘Youth Work under lockdown’ (Barclay, 2020). [ Also see…%5D […]

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