Over 100 children and young people who live in families without internet access are being reconnected to their friends, activities and learning.

Creative Youth Network’s essential youth workers are working closely with Bristol City Council and other agencies to identify and then deliver tablets to the isolated and vulnerable children and young people most impacted by lockdown. Each tablet will be enabled to connect to mobile networks, and will come pre-loaded with credit for a month’s use.

There are hundreds of vulnerable young people living in families in Bristol who just manage to cope day to day because of routine learning support from schools, and activities, clubs and one to one support offered by organisations like Creative Youth Network.  Some of these young people will have special education needs or disabilities, and many will need mental health support, support around drugs, alcohol and relationships, or help with searching for a training course or job.    

The importance of being connected 

Most of us take online access for granted. The Coronavirus lockdown is having a devastating effect on those young people without this access. They were just about managing before, but have lost support at a time when many of us are able to go online to retain a semblance of everyday normality. Schools have moved lessons and teaching, assignments, activities and support online. Creative Youth Network’s one to one, small group and youth club sessions, normally available face to face, are all moving online. 

Our youth workers are giving advice and information available to download, and using WhatsApp, Zoom or FaceTime to maintain contact with many young people. In addition access to friends and peers, advice, and sites offering games and hobbies all rely on having tablets, mobiles and data. This initiative will enable at least some of the most isolated vulnerable young people in Bristol to be reconnected to vital support.

Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Young People at Bristol City Council said:

By using data from across the Council and schools, together with local knowledge from the Creative Youth Network, the police, and youth and family support organisations, we are identifying those children who have been digitally left behind.

It’s really important that children and young people can access everything they need to continue their development. These tablets will give those most vulnerable the chance to learn, play, and contact their friends and family for support during this difficult time.

Creative Youth Network’s targeted youth services team have purchased and co-ordinated distribution to vulnerable children and young people, working with other essential and key workers such as the children with disability team, Youth Offending Teams, Off the Record, Youth Moves and others to ensure they reach those that need them most.

The aim is to distribute all the tablets by the end of the Easter school holidays. Creative Youth Network will offer digital support over the phone to ensure families are able to set up and make best use of the equipment. The tablets will be gifted to the families and owned by them.

Our services are more needed than ever before, with vulnerable young people needing more support for their mental health, managing their emotions and are counting on us and our advice during this time.

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