Isolation Activities for Young People

Across the world youth groups are being postponed for the foreseeable future due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The brilliant Katherine-Alice Grasham (Children, Young People and Families Team Member at the Diocese of Leeds) has put together this list of group challenges for youth groups in self-isolation.

You might like to share one a week with your group via your usual communication channels (make sure you’re complying with good safeguarding practices when using these).

Download the resource

How else are you keeping in contact with your youth group during this time? We are part of a Facebook Think Tank group for sharing good practice for engaging with young people online. You can find out more about the group here or request to join it here.

Supporting children with anxiety and depression

Today we have a guest blog from the Priory Group who have just released some new resources for those supporting children and young people with anxiety and depression. Information is provided by Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg.

Anxiety and depression can be difficult for anyone to experience. But for children and teenagers, they can feel even more overwhelming and unconquerable. 

One in eight children live with a mental health disorder, says NHS Digital. When a child or teenager has a condition such as anxiety or depression, it can seriously affect their health and wellbeing. They aren’t pleasant illnesses and can be incredibly confusing for a child to experience, who may not understand what they are feeling or why they are feeling a certain way. 

When a child is dealing with anxiety or depression, they may try to put on a brave face to cover up their emotions and hide how they feel from others. They may also choose to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, as a result of being too scared or embarrassed about what they are going through. This can stop them from reaching out for the help and support that they need to get better.

It is valuable for those looking after children and teenagers to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression so that they can take steps to support the child. 

Teenage depression and childhood anxiety guides 

Priory Group has put together guides on childhood anxietyand teenage depressioncontaining valuable advice and information on the mental health conditions. 

These guides are useful for parents, carers and guardians. They outline the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, and recommend effective support and treatment. 

The guides also recommend ways to talk to a child about their thoughts and feelings. Having conversations on the topic of mental health, what it is and how it can be treated can be incredibly valuable. These discussions can remove any stigma surrounding mental health and can help children to recognise that it’s ok to open up about their thoughts and feelings.

For children and teenagers who are experiencing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, it is important that they get access to treatment as early as possible so that they can manage their condition, and recover in the long term. These guides outline the treatment and therapies that can be provided at places like the Priory, which can help a child to make positive changes and learn strategies to help them stay well in the future. 

100 Questions App – Update

Back in May 2018 we launched the ‘100 Questions – Youth’ app in the Apple App Store and over the last few months it’s been great to hear stories of people using it in their youth ministry. The app cost (and still costs) 99p…which we don’t think is a lot to ask for a youth work resource.

Last week we pushed an update to the App Store with a new design and some tweaks under the hood (including making sure questions didn’t repeat any more during a session).

Today we have launched our ‘Lent and Easter Questions’ pack which is an in-app purchase. For 99p you can add an extra 50 questions to your app which focus on themes found throughout Easter and Lent.

Some questions include:

  • Do you have any Easter family traditions?
  • What gives you hope?
  • What can you do to show God’s love to others?
  • Where in the world do you see ‘new life’?
  • How do you like your eggs? Fried? Poached? Scrambled? Some other way?!

We hope this new pack will continue to help you engage young people in conversation.

Download the 100 Questions – Youth App Today!

Pssst…we’re currently working on adding an extra free pack all about social media!

Shoebox Appeal Alternatives

With more and more people wishing to find an alternative to Samaritan’s Purse* (often thanks to the controversial beliefs and actions of Franklin Graham) we’ve put together a list of alternatives to the Christmas shoebox appeal you could use with your church.

1 – If you still want to put together a shoebox!

Filling a shoebox is a fantastic opportunity that children, young people and families all engage with and so many people still want an opportunity to do the same activity but to support a more ethical cause.

If this is you then you might want to:

  • Check out local charities – Many local charities that operate in other countries still do shoe boxes. I live in Essex and a couple of local charities encourage people to put together shoeboxes for countries like Romania. This local link is brilliant as you can often hear stories of how your gift has made a difference first hand…you could also arrange a mission trip for some young people to join the trip to hand out shoeboxes.
  • One example of the above is Essex based charity Cry in the Dark. Check their appeal out here.
  • Google Search your town and shoebox appeal. For example a quick google search for ‘Southend shoebox appeal’ tells me that there’s a shoebox appeal to help local homeless people.
  • Link to Hope – This Christian charity organises a shoebox appeal – Details here

2 – Other Ideas
If the idea of a shoebox doesn’t bother you then here are a few other ideas for making a difference in the lives of others at Christmas.

  • Salvation Army – Each year the Salvation Army run a Christmas Present Appeal. This let’s you buy a gift for a child or young person which is donated to your local Salvation Army centre and given to a child or young person who may not otherwise get something. This is a brilliant way to make an impact in your local community. Details here.
  • Refuge – Refuge supports women and children who have suffered domestic violence. They run an appeal that lets you raise money to buy a refuge parcel. Details here.
  • Oxfam – Oxfam let you buy gifts that help others. You could raise money to buy a goat, safe water, support a refugee or do all sorts of things. Details here.
  • Pick another charity! – Pick a charity your church, youth or children’s group are passionate about and do a fundraiser to raise money for them this Christmas (or just encourage people to donate on top of their Christmas spending)

*Don’t get us wrong…supporting the shoebox appeal of Samaritan’s Purse still makes a huge difference in the lives of children…but there are other options!

We made an app! – 100 Questions – Youth

I’m really excited to announce that Youth Work Resource has created an iOS app!

100 Questions is available now on the Apple App store and is a simple to use app containing 100 questions for use with young people.

The questions cover a range of topics including:

  • Getting to know each other
  • Hopes and dreams
  • Beliefs
  • Social justice

To use the app you simply download it from the iOS App store, open it up and you’re presented with one of the questions. To move onto the next question you tap the button at the base of the screen or shake your device. The 100 questions are displayed in a random order.

There’s a few ideas on how you could use the app over on the app’s webpage here.

Get 100 Questions on the app store today!

Whilst we usually try and make our resources free this one has a small charge because making apps and getting them onto the app store isn’t cheap however it’s cheaper than many resources out there and will only set you back £1.99 (or just 99p until the end of August!)

Snapchat – Snap Maps – What You Need To Know

On Wednesday Snapchat announced their new feature ‘Snap Maps’ (See here). The feature allows users to share their location and to access a Snap Map and see which of their friends are nearby (or indeed where they are!). The launch video (on the above link) suggests that the aim of this is for people to see if their friends are nearby,  see what they’re up to and potentially join in the fun.

Of course, as a result of this feature other social media sites are full of warnings to parents about Snap Maps such as the one below:

These posts are great for raising awareness but often take a scaremongering approach, encourage knee-jerk reactions to new features and don’t help parents (or those who work with teenagers) to actually think about how they can have conversations around privacy with young people.

This blog post will hopefully give you a better understanding of Snap Maps, any causes for concern that come with it, some positives and ways we can discuss this feature with young people.

Location sharing isn’t a new thing. WhatsApp and iMessage already allow you to share your location via a message, the social network FourSquare allows you to ‘check in’ to places (as does Facebook) and Apple’s ‘Find My Friends’ app has allowed users to share their location in real time with approved friends (other similar apps exist).

The difference is that sharing via a message/WhatsApp either shares your current location or your location for a set period of time and ‘Find My Friends’ is simply for sharing your location in real time and has no additional features. Snap Maps however shares your location, all the time, in real time as part of a social network.

So is the Snap Map something to be concerned about for the young people we work with?

Mostly yes and a little bit of no. Here’s why…

Mostly yes…
Snapchat is primarily popular with those aged 11-24 which means many of the young people we work with will be using Snapchat and will probably have the new feature. The feature in itself is only dangerous when young people don’t know the people they are friends with and therefore grant access to their location to strangers (or people who’s identities they can’t verify).

The ‘always on’ nature of the feature (although it can be switched off) means that it allows people to work out when people are home and away (potentially posing a security risk).

and No…
Young people take risks online but they’re also clued up, young people will know whether they’re comfortable with the new feature and probably already know how to switch it onto ghost mode.

It’s also not all bad. If young people use it in the way Snapchat seem to intend then it may lead to young people spending more time with each other…what if a young person snapchats your youth group, their friends think it looks cool and then, using Snap Maps turn up ten minutes later?

What can youth workers do?

If you know your youth group regularly use Snapchat then why not spend some time discussing it with them…you could ask them:

  • Have you tried out the new Snap Maps? What do you think about it?
  • What’s good about it?
  • What’s not-so good about it?
  • Imagine that someone younger than you comes to ask you about it. What advice would you give? (Perhaps come up with a top 3 tips)

You could talk to your young people about privacy and sharing their location along with knowing who they are friends with*

In addition to this you could encourage your group to think about when they might switch to ghost mode…perhaps the map feature only needs to be switched on when you’re doing something exciting. (Tutorial on how to switch to ghost mode on this site)

*This doesn’t always mean only people they know in real life…many young people’s friends are both online and offline friends and young people often don’t distinguish the difference between the two.

One final tip…

Rather than launching straight into a talk/discussion around Snap Maps maybe have a wider conversation around Snapchat…discuss what your groups favourite filters are at the moment?, what filters have gone they wish they could bring back?, if they could snapchat from anywhere in the world where would it be?

Further Reading

If you want to keep reading about being online and how to talk to young people about it then you should read ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’ by Bex Lewis. Available here.