24 November 2021
“The day started with fixing the toilet cistern, why? Because I walked past it and it was dripping water. One of the things I have learnt since moving into our new building is that keeping the standard of the building high is really important. When you have worked hard for years to achieve something you really want to look after it.
“At YG we really want a space that young people deserve, that reflects how important they are. Young people, staff and trustees of Young Gloucestershire set out on a mission to achieve this five years ago and have now bought, moved into and renovated our own building. But now the hard work really starts. We have to keep it looking nice, adapt it in response to young people’s feedback and ensure that it is fit for purpose. This has become as much a passion and commitment as securing the support to enable it to happen in the first place.
“It has been so important for young people and our staff to have a building with a sense of permanency around it. Especially when the world we are all working in at the moment is so full of unknowns. The challenges we are facing with Covid have been some which we have never seen before. I talk to a lot of CEO’s and managers both in the voluntary sector and wider and everyone is currently expressing a similar challenge; How do you support young people (or whoever is the focus of your service) when your staff team is suffering the impact of Covid? Whether they have had Covid, a close family member has, they have long Covid (which then impacts every single day) or their mental health has been impacted or they are tired from all the extra input and effort that working in Covid has created. I could be any CEO of any organisation writing about this and I think most would say it is impacting the day to day operations of their service.
“As an organisation we work hard to support our staff team, both day-to-day and even more during this unsettling times. Our beautiful new premises has helped to give us all a sense of belonging and ownership. It has every facility a youth worker, mental health worker, counsellor would need. We have a staff kitchen, we have a mindfulness zone, we hold staff breakfasts, events and social activities, we give extended breaks at Christmas and we provide clinical supervision and access to free counselling. This is in addition to all the usual processes such as supervision, training opportunities, team meetings and an in-house safeguarding team.
“However, we do have other challenges that can impact our staff well-being; short term contracts (as most of our funding at the moment comes in twelve month chunks), young people presenting with more significant challenges than we have seen before, an increase in safeguarding concerns for young people and something that we as as an organisation have never experienced - waiting lists. The pressure of waiting lists for our services is significantly felt. Our staff feel a desire to support young people who need help as quickly as we can and at the moment that wait is longer than we would like.
“The question we are all asking therefore is how we traverse this new world we find ourselves in? How do we manoeuvre through the obstacles to get the outcome we need? How do we develop and implement services quickly to respond to need and recruit the right staff to deliver them? These are the conversations that dominate our management team meetings, our day-to-day conversations and our reflections. What we do know is there will be trial and error, learning and lots of development.
“We will fix toilet cisterns if we see they are broken. We will look after every aspect of both our staff and service user’s well-being. We place them at the heart of our new home and all the services we offer from there. We are committed to ensuring we can do the best for young people in Gloucestershire as we work through these challenging times.”