BY CHARLOTTE PEARSON-MILES
One unexpected silver lining of moving our Oxford-based youth work online has been the greater contact we’ve had with parents (who have had to fill out parental consent forms and help children access our Zoom groups safely). Pre-lockdown, much of Doorsteps’ youth work took place via school.
We were well placed to notice when there was a real slump in parents’ morale as lockdown continued.
In response, we started a new Doorsteps initiative called Friday Refresh: weekly Zoom sessions to look at practical ways of supporting children, young people and parents’ mental health and wellbeing.
Listening to parents at Friday Refresh highlighted a gap in local provision. Schools are now starting to support families more, but there isn’t much for parents with toddlers.
We convened a ‘roundtable’ virtual meeting of 12 under-fives partners to pool ideas of how toddler groups can still operate/offer support, despite social distancing.
Having heard parents of under-fives share so honestly during a Friday Refresh, we invited young people in our TBK (To Be Known) Christianity exploration group to pray for them.
Using a platform called Menti, they created an uplifting Word Cloud of prayers that we shared with under-fives’ parents. They, in turn, replied with messages about how encouraging they found it, which we then passed onto the young people (all anonymously). People were encouraged, felt connected, and knew they had made a difference.
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 the philosophy of Doorsteps Youth, Friday Refresh and all those wonderful church-run toddler groups. They know people, accept people, and support them onwards.
By Charlotte Pearson-Miles, Partnerships Manager for Doorsteps – Viva’s partner network in Oxford
Watch Friday Refresh sessions at bit.ly/DoorstepsFridayRefreshPlaylist