#Chances4Children: Empowerment scheme helps support disadvantaged children back to school

A youth empowerment charity is providing one-to-one support to help disadvantaged young people get back to school following the coronavirus lockdown.

Young people have also been sharing their lockdown diaries. Picture: Power2/Twitter
Young people have also been sharing their lockdown diaries. Picture: Power2/Twitter

Power2’s Power2 Rediscover programme is aimed at helping the most vulnerable children re-engage with learning following months of school closures which, research has shown, risks widening the attainment gap between wealthier and more disadvantaged students.

The 10-week intensive course will see young people already known to Power2 or referred by schools take part in coaching to help them catch up academically and work towards a positive transition out of lockdown.

The course covers issues including information about Covid-19 and social distancing, returning to school, mental health and wellbeing and coping with isolation and loneliness.

The young people selected to take part will be those “who are most at risk of falling behind because of the effects of Covid-19 and the lockdown, to improve their school attendance, confidence, self-esteem and mental health”, the charity said.

The Power2 Rediscover initiative has been launched as a direct response to feedback from young people, teachers, youth workers and carers on their experiences of the pandemic.

Research carried out by Power2 shows that 49 per cent of young people are worried about returning to school.

A survey of 500 young people aged 11 to 21 from across England, carried out by the charity, shows that the crisis has placed young people under extreme pressure. 

Some 41 per cent of young people said lockdown was negatively impacting their mental health, while 64 per cent were struggling to stay motivated. 

The impact of the crisis on young people living in disadvantaged areas is worse than those living in more affluent areas, the research shows.

Young people from poorer areas are 1.4 times more likely to say they were getting into bad habits during lockdown, including poor diet and sleeping patterns while 32 per cent of young people from deprived regions felt they did not have someone they could talk to.

In addition to the survey findings, Power2 spoke to 60 young people participating in their existing youth empowerment programmes, producing a series of lockdown diaries.

 One 17-year-old participant, Ashanti, from London said: “Everyone’s really stressing about their future. Lockdown might have been a good thing for some people but when it came to our school, our education, that’s gone downhill for us. It’s hard being motivated because being trapped in your house just makes you feel like you’re alone. I felt like because I’m always in my house, and I’m always in my room that the only thing I really saw was my walls. I felt like I had nothing else to do so I felt like if I stayed in my room any longer, I’d go through depression".

Julie Randles, chief executive of Power2, said “Before COVID-19, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds already suffered lack of access to opportunities. This problem has been deepened by the pandemic and urgent intervention is required to prevent the opportunity gap from widening into a chasm. 

“The younger generation will pay for the long-term consequences of the coronavirus crisis, so they need our support now. Whenever schools can re-open, Power2’s key priority is to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with their reintegration. We must not forget that many young people were struggling with engagement in education before lockdown, and now the risk is that the leap will feel too big for many to ever return.”

Case study

Tom, 14, was referred to us by his inclusion manager at school. Tom receives additional support for his ADHD and other educational needs, but he says it is a struggle to focus in lessons. He would often get into trouble for silly or inappropriate behaviour.

Tom joined the Power2 Be Active Programme, and in the beginning struggled to engage as he often distracted others and himself. This created barriers to building positive relationships with his peers as it annoyed certain people within the group. This lowered Tom’s mood and self-esteem. However, Tom relished his time in the primary school, supporting children in nursery to engage in physical activities and games. This encouraged Tom to positively channel his energy into planning and leading activities.

Tom really started to enjoy his time on the course. He listened well to the team and offered his opinion. As time went on, he opened up to the group, telling us he had recently moved in with his Grandmother after experiencing family problems. His grandmother had reservations about Tom travelling independently to sports leaders meetings due to his additional needs and the cost. Fortunately we were able to arrange a travel-buddy system for Tom and to cover his fare – Tom’s grandmother was thankful for this support and it enabled Tom to be a part of our community.

Tom has now achieved his Level 1 in Sports Leadership and received his qualification at Power2’s awards ceremony, which his Grandmother attended. This was a proud moment for him and his family.

Tom has now joined our Young Leaders Programme. His teacher who referred him to the project is thrilled with the progress he is making in and out of school and how well he is engaging with the programme.

Tom has also been getting involved in the Zoom sessions we have been offering our Young Leaders during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here he has really enjoyed time on the creative sessions and meeting other young people from across the UK. His grandmother said, ‘‘It’s nice to know Tom can chat to you over the weeks ahead, he needs to know there is someone else out there for him.’

Tom is a positive individual with great spirit and his energy is infectious. We are proud of Tom and all he has achieved so far with Power2 and we look forward to continuing our support and bringing out the best in him.

  • To support the launch of Power2 Rediscover, Power2 is participating in the Big Give’s match funding campaign, Champions For Children. Until 6pm on 3 July, every donation Power2 receives on the Big Give website will be doubled, up to £50,000. All donations will be used to deliver essential support for struggling young people in the UK. The match funding campaign also offers the public the chance to sponsor a school to take part in Power2 Rediscover.

Find out more about CYP Now’s #Chances4Children campaign


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