The Ipswich Experience
How youth social action is supporting the community during COVID-19
At Volunteering Matters we listen to young people enabling them to solve the issues most important to them and their local communities. We give them the power to make change happen and we ensure their voice is heard. We know this youth social action approach works; it creates confidence and develops skills that open fresh opportunities for future employment, training or education to boost local economies and help communities thrive. It creates stronger social cohesion, developing a new generation of leaders that want to and can create stronger communities and a better society for all. In Ipswich since 2016, we have operated multi award winning youth social action projects, built and designed by young people from the town using our Youth Social Action methodology of engagement. To find about more about how Volunteering Matters have continued to help the local community during COVID -19 click here.
Response to Covid-19
This approach to youth social action has enabled young people to lead on the development of packs to support potentially isolated families throughout the period of Covid-19. The packs include activities for primary school children, based around the characters created by the young people themselves – Astra and Patrick. Developed as a result of award-winning youth social action programmes WASSUP and We are Patrick, The Astra and Patrick characters are modern day superheroes, with the power of resilience and emotional strength. Our young volunteers animated the characters especially for the packs.
Endorsed by Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership, the packs also link families to local support networks, with family resources regarding health and well-being support. This aspect of the packs is written in five different languages and provides a route to families to get the information and support they need.
Two hundred packs – eight editions from March to September – have been produced every two weeks. Youth Social Action Volunteers have met weekly to decide and inform on the content of the packs, including recently the Black Lives Matter movement for children.
Packs are distributed by six local primary schools, reaching families from 13 different nationalities:
• St Helens Primary School
• St Matthews CEVA Primary School
• Ranelagh Primary School
• The Beeches Primary School
• Handford Hall Primary School
• Clifford Road Primary School
They have also been distributed by Social Care Teams, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation, community groups working with young mums and the BME food pantry (foodbank).
Partnership with the Wider Community
Funded by the Suffolk Community Foundation, other partners have come on board too and have contributed to ensure that the packs include a dynamic range of activities to inspire young children. These include:
- Wolsey Theatre
- Ipswich Museum and Art Gallery
- Pacitti Company
- Dance East
- Rock Paper Scissors
- Suffolk Libraries
- Let’s Start Reading
- Festival Bridge
- Cllr Colin Kreidewolf
“Thanks so much, I know the families are very appreciative, as are we!”
Deputy Head Teacher
“I just wanted to say that we have had some amazing feedback from our vulnerable families about the packs that were delivered. They loved the games and activity books and everyone has been very appreciative. Thank you so much!”
Deputy Head Teacher