TBK (To Be Known) is the name of Doorsteps Youth’s group exploring the Christian way of life which, like many of our groups, has adapted to run via Zoom. We wanted to provide continuity and support for young people through the stresses of lockdown.
One silver lining of moving our youth work online has been the greater contact we’ve had with our young people’s parents, who – as per our Covid-19 updated safeguarding procedures – have had to fill out parental consent forms and help their children access our Zoom groups safely. Pre-lockdown, much of Doorsteps youth work took place via school rather than via parents.
Given this greater parental liaison, we were well placed to notice when there was a real slump in parents’ morale as lockdown continued. In response to this slump we started a new Doorsteps initiative called Friday Refresh. Taking advantage of our ever-increasing Zoom skills, we launched a series of ‘bite-size’ weekly Zoom sessions to look at practical ways of supporting children, young people and parents’ mental health and wellbeing. We invited a range of speakers to share their wisdom on a variety of relevant topics with plenty of space for people to connect afterwards. The links to these sessions can be found on the new Doorsteps Children & Families Facebook page: https://bit.ly/Doorsteps-FB-Children-Families which we’re running alongside our Doorsteps Youth FB page.
With lockdown now starting to lift, Friday Refresh has run its season, though we are considering offering a similar space to connect through a monthly/half-termly evening Refresh. The other immediate consequence has been to highlight a gap in local provision. Schools are now starting to support families more, but there doesn’t seem to be as much in place for parents with toddlers. To that end, we convened a ‘roundtable’ virtual meeting of 12 of our Under-5 partners to pool ideas of how toddler groups can still operate/offer support, despite social distancing. Do contact us at Doorsteps@viva.org if you’d like to be part of the conversation!
At Friday Refresh we had parents of toddlers sharing so honestly their worries for their own mental health, and the impact on their parenting. Similarly, many toddler group leaders have also been struggling to keep in touch with families on their books. One leader invited to our ‘roundtable’ wrote: “Thank you for the invitation, but unfortunately I need to decline as I will be working. To be honest as I have found it really difficult to keep up with running the toddler group due to increased work at home, with home schooling and working longer hours, I’ve just not had the mental capacity to stay on top of it all. I would be interested in any outcomes you may come up with.”
Having heard parents of Under 5s share so honestly about the difficulties they were facing, later that day our youth team invited the TBK young people to pray for parents of Under 5s through Menti. This created an uplifting Word Cloud of prayers we were able to share with parents of Under 5s, who replied with lovely messages about how encouraging they found it, which we then shared with the young people (all anonymously). People were encouraged, felt connected, and knew they had made a difference for each other.
The full version of TBK is: To Be Known, and accepted as you are, to know that glorious purpose for which you were made, and the God who made you.
That’s what Doorsteps Youth does. It’s what Friday Refresh did through lockdown, and it’s what all those wonderful church-run toddler groups do too – know people, accept people, and support them onwards on their journeys.