Youth leaders protected from spiders and crocodiles in Leatherhead

Share this article

letherhead rEarlier this year, whilst youth clubs in Leatherhead, Southern Synod were closed due to Covid, youth work moved online. Video calls and Minecraft became a lifeline, both for groups and one-to-one calls with young people, but some protection from spiders and crocodiles has been necessary. Here are anonymised examples of how this has helped two young people in particular...

Rebecca joined one of our online youth groups every week in lockdown, where we hosted everything from quizzes on women in history to scavenger hunts. These calls were a great opportunity for our young people to stay in touch and have a laugh together. Rebecca also signed up for our one-to-one phone calls, which meant at a set time every week, where one of our youth workers would call and catch up about how the week had been. 

Just before our young people went back to school, we asked Rebecca if these calls had been helpful, since she had really started to open up in a way that isn’t always possible in a busy youth centre. Her response: ‘They’ve made me happy. And they keep me happy for the rest of the week. I feel I have someone I can talk to if I need to and I don’t have to worry. It helped talking about being anxious.’

Another of our online Youth Groups took place in Minecraft, an online video game where participants can build a virtual village together, either publicly or, as in this case, in a private group (known as a Realm). Our core group for these sessions set their own rules in the second week, including rules on sharing resources and protecting the leaders, who had less experience playing the game, from giant spiders and crocodiles! 

James joined our Realm, as well as the accompanying video call each week. He hadn’t interacted with our other online sessions much. Playing Minecraft online was actually his suggestion and we found that it suited a few of our boys better, as they could catch up whilst focussing on something else. It also gave him a space to interact with older boys and our youth leaders, helping to build social skills and keep interactions going.

We are so grateful to have been able to keep our youth provision running throughout 2020 and although we’ve met with smaller numbers it has been great to see a positive impact we could have in such a crazy year.

Who is being ignored or neglected in your community? How can your congregation serve them in these strange times? Check out the URC’s ‘New Reality, Same Mission’ materials to unpack some of the key questions for community engagement.

Share this article