The initial aim of the Youth Service Hospital Project was to engage with young people attending A&E who presented as being a victim or perpetrator of violence. The youth service would then seek to provide appropriate support and / or signpost to other activities and services.
Early in the development of the pilot this was extended to include young people who were ‘presenting as vulnerable’.
During the height of lock down (April to May 2020) Youth Workers provided an on-call and referral service to Basildon A&E and kept in regular contact with staff in the department. During this time the Youth workers supported 26 young people, a mix of open cases as well as new referrals received from the hospital.
At this time nationally, presentations at A&E had dropped and subsequently so did the referrals to the project. However, Youth Workers were keeping in regular contact with their open cases of young people to support them through the pandemic as well as taking on the new referrals that came through.
This was done by texting, phoning and video calling young people on a weekly, sometimes more frequent, basis. The Youth Workers also found that young people who had been previously closed to them got back in contact due to struggles they were having at the time. Due to this Youth workers also contacted some of the more vulnerable young people they had previously worked with to offer some support at this time.
Youth Workers set up a ZOOM, virtual youth club, in place of the local youth drop-in session. This online session was run weekly and provided the young people with an opportunity to take part in some fun activities whilst interacting with each other and the Youth Workers.
The Youth Workers returned to shifts at the hospital at the start of July initially for four shifts a week and now up to five. And the youth group started up again in September. The group is now split into two sessions to allow for social distancing measures which young people must book. The first session is a social session and the second more targeted looking at things like CVs and applications.