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  • Writer's pictureDavid Whewell

Covid19 - Practical guidance for detached and street-based youth workers - 03/20

We understand this is a fast-moving situation and that decision making is changing daily around working with young people. The Federation for Detached Youth Work will try and update this information as regularly as possible but please see our Twitter feed @FedDetachedYW for more info.

Updating policies and practice guidelines for this unusual situation would be needed and should follow any local guidance you are getting from your organisation.

Updating a dynamic risk assessment which should consider:

· Government and Public Health England Covid-19 advice

· The location of young people

· The size of group of young people

· Other members of the public in the same location, especially the those who are vulnerable or over 70

· Recognising potential symptoms in young people, community members or colleagues and managing a withdrawal plan

We also understand that some centre based workers are moving their engagement with young people outside into detached and streetbased spaces. This may cause some anxiety for workers and we would encourage this literal step outside to only be done if individual workers, teams and managers are comfortable and have explored all the risks in advance.

At the most basic level to start detached or streetbased youth work you would need to follow the points below:

· Follow government and Public Health England advice

· Discuss with your managers and staff teams before moving to detached and streetbased models

· Update risk assessments and H&S guidance specifically for detached and streetbased youth work

· Have an experienced detached or streetbased worker with the colleagues going out

· Always work with a minimum of one other colleague (pairs or small team), never lone working

· Have a charged work phone and correct numbers for line management and colleagues

· Have visible ID cards and organisational labelled clothing

· Do reconnaissance of the area you are planning to work in, know the community hubs and services you will be passing

· Find out and communicate with partner organisations in the area (police, libraries, CSC&EH, community groups, voluntary organisations, faith groups etc.) and try to work together not duplicate services

· Update the resources and tools in your kit bag (hand sanitiser, tissues, wet wipes, group games, torch etc.)

· Remember social and physical distancing between all individuals

· Have a withdrawal plan and exit strategy from situations that may arise (and that everyone knows what it is)

· Make sure all sessions are planned, recorded and evaluated at the end and prior to further sessions happening

Consider discussing the following topics with young people you meet:

· How are they feeling? Do they understand what is going on? Have they got ideas about how to keep connected safely? Do they know the recommendations for protecting themselves, their families and communities safe from Covid-19?

· Encourage discussions with young people about the changes in life they will be experiencing

· Try not to escalate anxiety and worries

It is anticipated that by Monday there will be a more restriction on movement, this is also dependant on where you are in the UK (London appears to be further ahead than the rest of the UK in the Covid-19 spread) so this advice may already be out of date for your organisation.

In that case we recommend:

· Keeping in contact with young people online or by phone

· Using technology for the benefit of relationships – WhatsApp, Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, Skype etc.

· Recognising that young people’s mental health may be affected by restricted movement

· That families self-isolating may have increase conflict triggers and therefore safeguarding should be considered as a priority

There are several websites with positive information and engagement tools for young people online:


· UK Youth

· Consortium for Street Children (UK)

· Young Scot

· Young Minds

· CBBC Newsbeat

Additionally, The Federation for Detached Youth Work would encourage organisations and employers to value and understand the skills and experience of detached, outreach and streetbased youth workers at this time and the positive impact they can have in communities with young people.

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