Attending a youth group via Zoom is not every young person’s cup of tea, and we have been seeing a lower attendance at online groups, compared to in-person ones. As a way to reach out to a wider section of Fruitbowl and Prism members, we decided to start a care package scheme. The premise was this: we wanted to show our young people that we are still here, and still care, to send information about what we are offering, and to encourage them to re-engage in whatever way they are comfy with. It has also aided us in finding out which young people require condoms, and to learn a little about some of the feelings they are having during this unprecedented time. Some young people expressed that they were living with unsupportive family, and that the box could provide them with something to look forward to, and some validation.
We used a great organisation called ‘In Kind Direct’ that provides non-profits with products at cut-price. We ordered all sorts: cuddly toys, chocolate eggs, board games, stationery, sanitary products, makeup, perfume and aftershave, and so much more. We also bought some things that In Kind Direct could not provide, such as pride flags, incense, candles, and sensory/fidget toys. (There may have also been a teen weeny mistake, of buying WAY TOO MANY bright blue biodegradable packing peanuts, but we should be able to use them for something else in the future)!
The custom gift boxes were mostly all packed on one 30 degree afternoon, with a fan blowing noisily, the sterile whiff of hand sanitiser, and queer hip-hop blasting. When it became apparent that sending them all via post would be very costly, we set out to separate the parcels into post code areas, and SAYiT team members with cars volunteered to hand deliver the packages! Young people were really grateful to receive a box of treats and essentials and we have had loads of posts on MINGA about them. It has been so sweet to know that we can still provide some joy and practical support, even during these times of social distancing!
Youth Work Assistant