FLO (Family Liaison Officer)
Virtual Youth Offer – Online Youth Services for Young People
Kent commissions seven independent providers to deliver open access youth services across twelve districts of Kent for young people aged 8-19 (up to 25 for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities). Following the start of the Covid crisis, all of these providers have been developing their own virtual youth offers to replace what would they would normally deliver face to face.
Each provider’s offer differs and may vary from week to week, but they all seek to offer a number of open access online group activities via social media or other platforms, including sessions based around music, physical activity and emotional wellbeing. Sessions offered can be live and interactive or pre-recorded for young people to dip in and out of as they choose. Crucially, each provider also makes youth staff available to chat, either with other young people in a group or on a one to one basis; giving support, advice and guidance as appropriate, but often simply being a familiar or welcoming face for young people to talk to.
Young people are not limited to accessing sessions delivered by their local provider – they can choose to join in with sessions in other areas if these appeal to them more. The whole offer is subject to ongoing development and is explained on our page “Online Youth Services” which contains links for each provider and can be found here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/young-people/online-youth-services
Additional Resources for Young People and Families
We would also like to remind you that there are a number of additional services commissioned by our public health and other colleagues that can be of real benefit to young people and their families at this time. Further details on these services specific to young people are being maintained by our Headstart colleagues on Kelsi and can be found by clicking here . Services detailed on this link include:
Kooth (https://www.kooth.com/) - a supportive space for young people who are missing their friends and need to talk. It includes discussion boards, Kooth Magazine & Help Articles, free counselling and self-help tools.
Moodspark: (https://moodspark.org.uk/) - A place where young people aged 10-16 can learn how to look after their emotional and mental health and find ways to help them bounce back when life gets tough
Other sites and services that may be particularly relevant to young people and their families include:
Kent Resilience Hub (https://kentresiliencehub.org.uk/) - a resource that helps young people, parents and carers and professionals to understand emotional growth and resilience. This is shortly to be updated with a wide range of emotional wellbeing support resources for young people
Sexual Health Service (https://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/sexual-health) – information on the local service offer - including online STI testing – which is still live and accessible Kent wide. Information for the general public about what to do on contraception, emergency contraception, abortion, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and sexual assault during Covid-19 is on Sexwise . This includes links to other organisations providing information and support.
Mental Health Resources and Support for Parents and Carers (www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing)
School Health (https://www.kentcht.nhs.uk/service/school-health) – a range of emotional and physical health resources and details of how to get support for school age children and young people – regardless of whether or not they are in school.
One You Kent (https://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/one-you-kent) – a range of links and resources around improving physical and mental health
In case if it of use, we also have been provided with a guided twenty day social media campaign – including a calendar and all resources required - to help promote our range of public health services available; this is attached for your convenience as a Zip file.
Like adults, the lives of children and young people have been turned upside down with schools, clubs and activities closing and opportunities to meet with friends restricted. Many young people are already feeling isolated, confused and lost; and losing someone you love suddenly and unexpectedly in this context can be particularly complex and hard to come to terms with.
Experiencing different emotions when grieving is normal and having someone to talk to about how you feel can be very helpful.
To support children and young people in Kent who experience complicated grief as a result of Covid-19 we have extended our children and young people’s counselling service to include bereavement support. This offer has been specifically tailored to the different circumstances that children now find themselves in and the provision will aim to reduce the long term impact, particularly on emotional wellbeing and mental health, from this trauma event.
Who the service for?
- The service is for 4 to 19 years-old living in Kent who have lost a loved one to Covid-19. The virtual programme of bereavement support will include the provision of strategies and information for families or carers to help them support their grieving child.
- Children and young people common reactions to grief and loss can include anxiety, sleep difficulties, sadness and longing, anger and acting out behaviour, guilt, self-reproach and shame and school problems. Some children might show regressive behaviour, social isolation, fantasies, personality changes, pessimism about the future, preoccupation with cause and meaning, as a result of being bereaved.
Who do I refer to the service?
- Referrals (including self-referrals) can be made via the Single Point of Access at the online portal at https://www.kentcht.nhs.uk/service/school-health/ or by calling 0300 123 4496. Please refer any child or young people that could benefit from the service.
How do I access further information?
- Further information is available on the service website at https://www.kentcht.nhs.uk/service/school-health/counselling-and-emotional-health/
Are there any other services available to offer support?
- There are a number of local and national Voluntary and Community Sector bereavement organisations that play a critical role in supporting children and families. Further information is available at Practical and Emotional Wellbeing Support Following Bereavement. KCC and KCHFT have reached out to these organisations to recognise this role and encourage continued support for families, particularly families who have suffered a bereavement that is not related to Covid-19.
There are a number of other services that support young people’s emotional wellbeing that can be accessed across Kent. These can be accessed directly and include;
- A new text service for children, young people and adults needing immediate mental health support. This can be accessed by texting the word “Kent” to 85258. This is a 24/7 text service provided by SHOUT and the Crisis Text Line as part of the Kent and Medway Release the Pressure campaign.
- An online wellbeing hub at www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing which provides self-help advice and links to local support services to help people’s mental wellbeing during the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic crisis. This is regularly being updated to provide additional support.
- Kooth is a mental health and wellbeing online platform for young people aged 10 to 16 available across the whole of Kent. The service is free and can be accessed at www.kooth.com. It’s a place to get advice, information and support 24/7. Young people can chat to a friendly qualified counsellor Monday to Friday between 12 noon and 10pm and Saturday and Sunday between 6pm and 10pm.
- Accessing www.moodspark.org.uk if you are a young person or www.kentresiliencehub.org.uk if you are a professional, parent or carer to learn about mental health and find tips and resources to keep emotionally healthy.
- Accessing the Big White Wall if aged 16+ for anonymous support through https://www.bigwhitewall.com/
- Calling the Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0300 123 4496 for support regarding mental health if you are not sure what help is needed.