Midlothian youth project Y2K gets back on our streets

A new community outreach service by Y2K has been making a difference to local youngsters since it launched last month.

By Kevin Quinn
Friday, 28th August 2020, 3:05 pm
L-R  Dale McGinley, Nina Galloway and Leona Dowdeswell from the Y2K team.
L-R Dale McGinley, Nina Galloway and Leona Dowdeswell from the Y2K team.

With all face-to-face services at Y2K suspended since March due to the pandemic, youth workers have only been able to offer digital support to young people via online platforms.

In the absence of the ever-popular evening ‘Drop-ins’ at Y2K staff organised ‘drop-off’ deliveries of health and wellbeing activity packs, which helped youth workers maintain contact with the young people.

Following the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown, at the beginning of August Y2K was able to launch a new outreach support initiative which had been planned pre-Covid, called ‘180+’.

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L-R (Leona Dowdeswell (youth worker), Nina Galloway (Y2K+ Project Lead), Lyndsey Ritchie (Youth Work Coordinator) .

Funded by National Lottery Awards for All and the CashBack for Communities Youth Fund the new 180+ pilot will run for at least six months.

Natalie Paris, project lead for the initiative, said: “We are very excited to be able to get back to working with young people again as these have been very challenging times for everyone no matter what age. When we planned this pilot we thought we’d be reaching out to young people we didn’t already know from Y2K, but because of the impacts of lockdown we are finding we are reconnecting with some of the young people already known to us as well as lots of new folk.

“It is right across the board which is needed.”

Lyndsey Ritchie, Youth Work co-ordinator said “180+ Workers are not there to clear up the streets or be involved in moving on young people who might be perceived to be ‘up to no good’.

Y2K has begun some outdoors based work.

“We are not going to be policing the young people, rather, our skilled team will be responsive to hot spots during daytimes as well as evenings, where young people in need are hanging around.

“We will be working with community partners– especially local schools - to ensure that over the weeks and months to come our efforts are focused where we can have most impact.

“Y2K has an important role to play in helping our young people to re-socialise safely and to make positive relationships and decisions in these confusing times.”

The 180+ team has been out and about in Mayfield and surrounding areas a couple of evenings per week over the past month, and has already recorded engagements with 99 youngsters.

Natalie added: “We are learning as we go. We have two new members of staff and while out and about the team is concentrating on community mapping together and their evaluations will inform how we proceed.

“We are also in the process of building a new partnership initiative as part of this pilot and that, along with the Scottish Government route map through and out of lockdown, will affect how 180+ will operate over the weeks to come.”

Project manager, Carol Flack added: “I have no doubt that 180+ will prove to be a fantastic addition to our more established work streams and should help compensate for the devastating loss of open-door drop- ins which, will not be able to be re-opened any time soon - and certainly not to the numbers of young people who accessed InvolveU in pre-covid times.”