News   >   Handling Covid19 – Reaching Higher

Handling Covid19 – Reaching Higher

07 May 2024   /   Natalie Kay

This week we are spotlighting Reaching Higher, a youth charity based in the London Borough of Croydon.

Reaching Higher has been known to The Rank Foundation for a long time, recieving their first grant back in 2013 to fund a YAP apprentice. Since then, Reaching Higher has hosted GAP apprentices, Time to Shine Leaders, and Community Action Placements. A previous Reaching Higher employee won the Rank Memorial Award back in 2016, and Jordan Ignatius, current Strategy and Operations Manager at Reaching Higher, was recently appointed as a member of the RankNet Leaders Action Group.

We spoke to Jordan about the trials and tribulations of managing the Coronavirus pandemic in youth work, and how Reaching Higher have adapted their services.

At Reaching Higher, their vision is “to see a wider community working together to best serve young people” by drawing synergy between schools, community and home life. Their mission is to “challenge young people to be leaders of their own lives”. They employ eight members of staff and engage with approximately 250 – 300 young people per week.

In a usual week, Reaching Higher are visiting schools delivering their transferable skills programme, running their Football and Drama Academies and Leadership Programme in the community, as well as doing home visits and parent induction meetings. However, during the pandemic Reaching Higher have had to drastically adapt their programmes and services.

With the help of some of their service users, Reaching Higher quickly developed Isolation < Aspiration, which is an initiative designed to raise the aspirations of each young person and provide a catalyst of hope for them and their families during these uncertain times. The main objectives are to provide young people with high quality, fun and meaningful activities in their home, support families by providing them with practical tools and resources to use whilst at home with their children and to sign post young people and their families to organisations that can provide them with the support they need.

Reaching Higher has committed to building their online communities via interactive workshops, youth-led content, hosting competitions and engaging with young people across their social media platforms. They know their audience, their needs and how to keep them engaged and inspired.

There has been so many positives and learning opportunities since Reaching Higher had to digitalise their service delivery. The team have sent out educational and community resources to parents and carers, offered Drama related activities (tangible advice about how to develop acting and writing skills), run football skill workshops, match review sessions, fitness workouts and online FIFA tournaments, and they have held mentoring sessions on CV and Personal Statement writing as well as timetabling.

Although this has been hugely successful, Jordan explained that lockdown has come with some very real challenges. Maintaining contact with young people and their families is a delicate art; they are very conscious of overwhelming and alienating their service users. A lot of their youth have shared a lack of motivation to get involved in online activities and are bored of staying at home. Jordan explained:

“There’s no blueprint for times like this and a lot of what we do is face to face youth work so we are really figuring out how things work as we go. Working face to face is what makes our jobs feel so rewarding, so working virtually makes it difficult to measure our impact in the same way“.

If you have any questions for Jordan or the team at Reaching Higher, or want to know more about their programmes or services you can contact them at info@reachinghigher.org.uk or visit their website at www.reachinghigher.org.uk

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