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Over the past month, the wonderful Wigan Youth Zone (WYZ) team have established a completely new platform to engage young people who need their support now more than ever. They’ve been overwhelmed at how well their ‘Virtual Youth Zone’ has been adopted by the young people and the feedback they have received from young people, parents and the wider community has been exceptional. These times are difficult for young people with reported increases in abuse and diminished mental health; Wigan Youth Zone is committed to doing as much as we can at this critical time. 

It is with this context, that I am pleased to share with you the headlines from a very eventful and successful month as well as providing an overview of support that would be welcomed during these times if you have the capacity.

Young People

Within 72 hours of the lockdown being announced, WYZ creative and talented team launched their ‘Virtual Youth Zone’ to provide open-access and universal content for all young people and their families to engage with. Operational seven days a week, young people can engage with pre-recorded and live activities which cover a variety of programmatic zones such as cooking, music, dance, fitness, quizzes, Lego sessions, games and issues-based work. As you will see from the WYZ impact report (click here attached) the engagement has been significant. 

As well as all online content taking place at the Virtual Youth Zone, we also have the following connection points with members:

  1. Calls to c100 young people every two weeks to touch base with the most active members
  2. Dance and Girls Room chat groups on Zoom every weekday, attended by c35 unique young people
  3. Reactive email support monitored everyday
  4. 1-2-1 video calls for members who are struggling on a daily basis
  5. Mentoring sessions for the most vulnerable young people once a week
  6. Multiple opportunities for youth voice/engagement each week
  7. EmpowHER targeted group work for vulnerable young women running four days a week

The purpose of all these interventions is to provide different spaces for young people to enjoy themselves, share their feelings, connect with peers and youth workers and to give support and encouragement to each other in these difficult times.

In addition to the content being curated by the Wigan Youth Zone team, young people have also enjoyed special video messages from Wigan Athletic player, Joe Williams, Wigan Warriors favourite, Liam Marshall, and Lucy Spraggen who is a long time Wigan Youth Zone supporter. Additionally, two WYZ aspiring singers Georgia and Emily, have received 1-2-1 voice coaching from Sam Bailey, a  former X Factor winner! Sam is volunteering her time during lockdown to support WYZ future stars by coaching them with some of her winning techniques. We have also lined up an opportunity for ten lucky young people to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview Wigan Athletic legend and current Belgium manager, Roberto Martinez, on Monday at 8pm which will be live streamed to our Facebook account so please join us. WYZ are hugely grateful to Roberto for volunteering his time for this session.

Finally, in addition to all the activities WYZ have been running for young people they are thrilled to be supporting Wigan Council’s response to the current situation by giving them access to the Youth Zone for the duration of the pandemic to provide respite for looked-after young people – it is receiving wonderful feedback and WYZ are delighted they could play a part in the vital efforts to support the most vulnerable. All young people referred onto the scheme will be given a free Wigan Youth Zone membership.

Ways you can support

EnergyAce are an existing supporter of Wigan Youth Zone and directly helping to deliver all of the above and more – they we couldn’t do it without all our support. There are lots of ways to get involved if you have the capacity:

  1. Pledge a £5 donation by sending a text to 70085 quoting WYZWIGAN  
  2. Buy things on Amazon! – since February WYZ have registered with Amazon Smile who (if you purchase on https://smile.amazon.co.uk/) donate 0.5% of the purchase to your chosen charity. If you link your account to Wigan Boys and Girls Club – charity number 1134451, company number 6944425 – WYZ will benefit when you are making purchases you are already planning on making .
  3. Raise awareness of our Virtual Youth Zone to your networks via social media and good old fashioned conversations.
  4. Join WYZ online events in the coming weeks and months and consider supporting the online content
  5. Become a mentor to support a young person. Young people gain so much from having a mentor in their lives and the scheme has more demand than ever - a listening ear and a word of advice is invaluable to so many at this time. WYZ are currently looking for new mentors to support some of our young people - if you have time and would be interested, Mike Lomax our Mentoring Coordinator (mike.lomax@wiganyouthzone.org) would love to hear from you.

For more information on Wigan Youth Zone contact Anthony Ashworth-Steen on 01942 612061 Anthony.Ashworth-Steen@wiganyouthzone.org or contact us at EnergyAce on 01695 559785 post@energyace.co.uk

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