Saalik Youth Project: A youth-led conversation about Covid-19

Saalik Youth Project used our #SpeakUp grant funding to explore the experiences of young people and parents - what was the impact of Covid-19 on their communities, and what support do they need in the future?
Saalik Youth Project

Young people exploring health & wellbeing in their community

Saalik Youth Project works with young people aged 6-25 from ethnically diverse backgrounds and origins in the Pitsmoor, Burngreave and Firvale areas of Sheffield. 

During the second lockdown in early 2021, Healthwatch Sheffield worked with Saalik Youth Project to deliver sessions focused on health and community engagement. This was an opportunity to listen to the young people's life experiences, and explore how the resources in their community affects their health and wellbeing, and their aspirations for themselves and their community.

Building on this work, the young people wanted to explore issues within their wider community, and were awarded a #SpeakUp grant. 

They wanted to explore:

  • What issues the community was facing during the Covid-19 pandemic?
  • What support the community needs?

The young people used their networks and engagement skills to get surveys completed - and achieved an impressive 307 responses.

What did people say?

Worries about lockdown & school

Young people's main worries about Covid-19 were focused on not being able to leave home, and a lack of exercise/physical health - 65% said they had become less active during lockdown.

Parents mostly worried about the mental & physical health of themselves and their children, as well as about the disruption to their children's education.

Young people overall felt that their parents were able to support them well in home learning, but still had a strong desire to return to the classroom - only 13% of young people said they preferred online learning.

Who would people go to for support?

A strong message came out from the surveys - both young people and parents would prefer to go to friends and/or family members for support or advice if they were worried. School staff, youth workers, and health professionals all ranked much lower. This hints at a lack of trust in statutory organisations, which needs to be addressed if we want everyone to have equal access to support.

What support would people want in future? - activities, workshops, and training

The young people surveyed said they would like to have access to more trips, sports/fitness sessions, and social/charity projects to get involved in.

They also wanted workshops to better understand issues that were important to them, such as gun/knife crimes & violence, finance skills & money management, and health. 

Parents wanted greater support with fitness & sport too, as well as being able to access religious workshops and mental health awareness courses.

Our recommendations

Based on Saalik Youth Project's findings, we've made recommendations to those organisations who wish to support or work with their communities.

The recommendations focus on providing targeted and culturally-competent support, and recognising & addressing the lack of trust some communities have in statutory organisations. Some of the support and opportunities that young people and their parents want do already exist in the city, but they may not feel accessible to everyone. Work needs to be done to improve this.

Find out more - read the whole report

There's more detail about the group's findings and recommendations in the whole report. Find it below:

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