Youth Sheffield

A look at personal safety in Covid times: S Club 5 youth club member Ella tells her story

Sadie White No Comments

Ella Rose from Sheffield and a member of S Club 5 youth club was sat in a wheelchair outside Tesco on West Street, Sheffield when a man stole her mobile phone from her hands.

Ella is a smart, articulate and mature 17 year old who cut straight to the point when asked about the impact this experience has had on her. Ella said:  “I was initially anxious, but to be honest the main thing that has struck me about the whole ordeal is the fact that some people are clearly so desperate they would steal from a young person in a wheelchair.”

Ella, has a form of spina bifida and has a personal assistant to support her transition into adulthood and independent living, as she has complex needs. Talking about the experience Ella said: “Due to social distancing, I decided to stay outside whilst my personal assistant went in to get a few bits and bobs for lunch. I thought it would help social distancing efforts not to be inside a crowded Tesco – I would usually have gone in too.”

Natalie Holt is Ella’s youth worker and when asked about what she would say to young people about personal safety, she said: “We all need to be confident and go about our lives – yes pay attention to social distancing rules – but  it’s so important that we all put our personal safety first and foremost.”

So, the new Covid rules have reframed the normal rules we live by and in doing so have the capacity to impact on our personal safety. Youth worker Natalie has some thoughts on preventative steps young people can take when out and about. Natalie said: “It’s a good idea to keep all personal belongings hidden and safe and not allow yourself to be distracted by being on your phone when you are out and about. It’s so tempting just to quickly check your phone and we all do it, but it’s important to be aware and check your surroundings to assess whether you may be particularly vulnerable first.

“Also things like, not wearing ear phones, so that you can hear if people are coming up behind you and just being aware of your surroundings and keeping family members informed of where you are and when you are expected back. There is also the option of using technology, like tracker apps, that you can have installed on your phone and show your location, which might be an idea if you feel particularly vulnerable.”

But what about our emotional safety? We have all had to adjust our mindset to the new normal incredibly quickly and have become focused on social distancing in our interaction with others. Whatever the implications for us and our families individually, there is an undeniable heightened sense of anxiety for everyone, and if you’re a young person that already struggles with emotional wellbeing issues, Covid only serves to compound the problem. Natalie said: “Undoubtedly, young people are likely to be experiencing worry, anxiety and fear and may be feeling isolated at the moment. It might be about going back to school or college in large groups of people, they may be worried about family members or just the general anxiety we are all experiencing, however they are not alone and we would encourage those experiencing such fears to speak to somebody as they will soon realise that they are not in isolation and can get help.”

“Our Door 43 emotional health and wellbeing service is here to do just that. We have professional wellbeing workers and social prescribers on hand to help young people who might be feeling low, anxious or isolated.” She continues.

The need to communicate in a socially distanced way also means that young people have been spending more time online and this has also had an impact on emotional wellbeing. Natalie said: “Young People have had to find alternatives to communicate and socialise with their friends which is essential for their mental well-being to feel connected to their ‘social support’. This has its merits if used in moderation but I would like to stress that young people need to stay safe not only when interacting outside, but also when online and using social media.”

For tips on staying safe online visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/findoutmore/help-me-out-staying-safe-online or https://www.itstimetologoff.com/2018/02/01/how-to-stay-safe-online-10-tips-for-teens/

For more information on Sheffield Futures’ Door 43 emotional wellbeing service visit https://www.sheffieldfutures.org.uk/i-need-help/door43/

 

Youth Sheffield Summer Programme is here

Thomas Austin No Comments

Although this summer feels very different so far, our youth workers have created a programme of safe activities for young people across the city which will run in addition to our online activities and outreach work.

All activities have been risk assessed and will be run following Government guidelines for social distancing, which means numbers will be limited.

Keep an eye on our social media for more information or contact us at [email protected] if you are interested in attending.

Youth Sheffield Summer Activity Schedule

Click here to download the schedule

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