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​How we kept our events running during the Pandemic

07 April 2021

Written by Holly McLaughlin, ICT/Principal Teacher

We recognise the value in taking every opportunity to celebrate the achievements our young people have accomplished during their stay with us. In June last year our young people experienced an activity week with a difference. This consisted of a Ready Steady Cook competition, sports day, virtual quiz, magician workshops, virtual reality experiences, a cinema, mixed sports opportunities including trampolining and archery, and an awards ceremony.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding restrictions in June, we had to postpone our annual ‘G in the Park’ event, however with careful planning we were able to re-brand this ‘G in the Hoose’ last September. The whole event was streamed and consisted of a reflection on the events of the year, messages from local celebrities, a Masked Singer performance (after careful consultation with the Scottish Government), a virtual quiz and distribution of certificates to young people highlighting achievements.

In early October we celebrated the launch of the National Secure Care Pathway and Standards. Our young people learned about the standards, designed poster entries for the national publication, created window displays depicting what the national standards meant to them and took part in a number of games linked to the newly published standards.

Who we involved

Our events include all staff across the centre such as members of the education team, care staff, wellbeing team, senior leadership team, admin support, janitorial and domestic staff.

The difference it made

Carrying out events within the limitations of the pandemic has cemented the strong bond between our staff who have admirably displayed a ‘we are all in this together’ can-do attitude throughout. From the onset, we have endeavoured to ensure that young people within our care during this difficult time were shielded where possible from adverse impacts and experienced the same high-quality care and education we strive for during normal circumstances, and encouragingly our young people have regularly professed that we have done so. Some have even gone so far as to say they feel lucky to be accommodated at the Centre during this time.

Continuing to celebrate success through fun and engaging events allowed our young people to interact virtually during what could otherwise have been a period of heightened feelings of isolation due to the restrictions placed on mixing households. Providing a platform for achievements to be recognised fostered a community spirit across the Centre as peers applauded and complimented each other with one young person even stating “this is the best day of my life” following the distribution of certificates. Building confidence and cultivating hope during unprecedented and uncertain times has been a privilege.

What we will do differently in the future

Our success has always been a consequence of strong relationships with our young people and this has traditionally relied on a degree of proximity. However, in the current climate we have had to work hard to convey the same feelings of nurture without the luxury of physical caring gestures. The use of carefully chosen language within verbal communication and ensuring regular discourse has become paramount. In simple terms, we have had to tell young people we care and provide praise verbally where we haven’t been able to show them through the usual hugs, high-fives and fist pumps. This has undoubtedly been the most difficult adjustment.

Like everyone else, we are becoming increasingly aware that this destructive virus may be a part of our lives for some time to come, however we can seek solace in the fact that we continue to provide the same opportunities, structure and routine our young people thrive on through slight adjustments in our operations.