27 May 2021

YMCA Derbyshire, Baby People and Derby County Community Trust have joined forces to help over 2,000 young people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thanks to our unique tie-up, music sessions were held over Instagram, sports activities were encouraged virtually and was confidence built in one-to-one sessions.

Our charities were inspired to act following the report from YMCA England and Wales which showed only 50% of young people could identify youth services in their area.

The report showed that many of these young people had concerns about their future and wanted the opportunity to develop new skills to help improve confidence and self-esteem.

We recognised the urgent need to provide more young people with a safe place to socialise and learn outside of school, and the ‘This is Derby’ project began.

Although times have been much different over the last year, the project has still continued to run and engaged over 2,000 young people with positive activities both online and in person when restrictions have allowed. Through January and February, a total of 284 sessions have been available virtually for young people to tune into.

Music and arts development organisation, Baby People, has been hosting Instagram live sessions, teaching the skills of lyric writing and music production.

A young person who attended these live lessons said: ‘My music has helped me so much, I learned more English than in school”.

Managing director of Baby People, Baby J, said:

“Young people are our future and we understand the need to engage them in a positive way, build their confidence and develop their skillset”

Derby County Community Trust, charitable arm of Derby County Football Club, has run a variety of challenges and interactive activities virtually over the last 8 weeks. Sessions have included fantasy Premier League nights, discussion sessions around wellbeing, sports challenges and quizzes.

Inclusion officer at DCCT, Jack Parkes, said: “Through these challenging times, our virtual sessions have been a point of support, structure and fun for our participants. We are very excited for our face to face sessions to resume, and we are currently putting measures in place to make them as safe as possible. This is Derby has given young people across the city the opportunity to experience cultural and sporting opportunities.

When Kyle, who has attended the DCCT This is Derby programme for 12 months now, including our virtual programme, was asked what his thoughts are on the sessions, he said: “I have learnt more about football and the rules. I have also learnt not to lose my temper as much and how to keep my language appropriate. Also, watching the online skill videos has taught me how to improve my dribbling.”

With a dedicated youth worker on hand, we provide tailored support for every young person involved with the project. The aim is to encourage 1:1 work as well as group activities to facilitate their personal, social and educational development.

Sally Hollyland, youth worker at YMCA Derbyshire commented:

“I have engaged with over 35 young people on a 1:1 basis and together we make plans on their future aspirations. This helps visualise the future they can have, simply with a little bit of hard work. As they continue to be supported by the This is Derby project,  many young people can start to visualise their positive pathway.”

As restrictions are gradually lifted, the ‘This is Derby’ project will be able to engage with young people in person. Before Lockdown 3.0, DCCT was running sports sessions which will continue when guidelines allow. YMCA Derbyshire and Baby People will be inviting participants to join them at their studio and campuses for more interactive sessions.

The project is possible with support from Derby Homes through the Derby City Social Impact Fund.

Maria Murphy, Managing Director of Derby Homes said:

“The pandemic has been tough on all of us, but the impact on younger people who are typically at a much more social part of their lives must be devastating.

“It’s even more vital that provision for activities and services has continued, particularly in the areas of creative arts and sport, but also to create and maintain the social elements that may have declined during restrictions.

“We all need hope and reassurance that there’s still a real world out there, that it’s ready to continue and that we’re all going to be a part of it, whatever form it takes.

“When our Operational Board agreed the funding last February, I don’t think any of us imagined the changes we’d see in the world, so it’s fantastic that the project has progressed and adapted to suit the varying climate and needs of young people in the city.”