Youth Mentoring During Lockdown
How Baraka has responded to the COVID-19 crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious problems for the local community in North Kensington, especially for the young and the elderly. Baraka has been taking action to support our service users and others in west London who have been hit by the crisis.
One of the first problems noticed by Baraka’s lead Youth Worker and Mentor, Mohammed Senhaji, was that many youths continued to gather in local parks in violation of the government’s social distancing guidelines. Many young people in North Kensington live in overcrowded accommodation, small flats with no garden. They are also bored, stuck inside with little to do with schools not operating to their usual schedules and after-school activities unavailable.
Mo discovered that there was another problem: many of the young people simply didn’t understand the seriousness of the coronavirus crisis and how every person needs to take responsibility for the wellbeing of the wider community.
In response to the problems, Baraka has been carrying out daily outreach in the parks of North Kensington, explaining to young people how serious the pandemic is and why they need to adhere to safety guidelines. As young people need to be occupied and to keep healthy, Baraka has invested in fitness equipment, which has been distributed to young people free of charge so they can keep fit at home. This means they are able to keep up their boxing training which many of them have been doing at Baraka’s weekly boxing sessions. The hugely popular sessions will resume as soon as the lockdown measures have been eased enough to allow it.
Other donations have been made to the young people to encourage them to enjoy time at home with their families, Baraka buying board games for them to take home. And Baraka has invested in masks and hand sanitiser for the young people, and explained to them the importance of doing the basic things that will stop the spread of the virus, such as washing hands for 20 seconds when they get home.
The young people have been very receptive to Baraka’s support and many are also taking advantage of one-to-one online boxing sessions with Mo as well as an online youth club. Mo has been liaising with the local police and is aware of the continued prevalence of gang and drug issues in the area.
Another problem that has arisen during the lockdown period is the dissemination of conspiracy theories among vulnerable young people. The videos, about the Illuminati, 5G, and other lies have caused panic and anxiety among young people, especially those with existing mental health issues. Baraka has been able to discourage youths from spreading conspiracy theories and has provided some structure, normality, and moral support during this very unusual time.
As well as supporting young people, Baraka has also been active in coming to the aid of the elderly in the community, providing a shopping and delivery service to isolated and vulnerable local residents.
You can follow Mo on Instagram here
And read more about Baraka’s youth mentoring here.