Episode five of the Fighting Back podcast was released this week and focused on how interaction and engagement with the parents and carers of young people has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fighting Back is a six-part podcast series contributing to the wider project, Tackling Inequalities, made possible by National Lottery funding from Sport’s England’s Tackling Inequality Fund. Fight for Peace Alliance member organisations gathered virtually to discuss how they have responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they have adapted to meeting the needs of some of our most vulnerable young people.
This week’s discussion raised new perspectives and ideas around how engagement with parents and carers can benefit the participation and development of our young people during these unprecedented times. One podcast guest explains the informal nature of parent interaction, and how this was affected over the past year. “I think we realised during the first lockdown that having an informal approach to parent interaction was a bit of a weak link. Suddenly a lot of these interactions just weren’t happening.” The absence of meeting parents during pick-ups, drop-offs, and home visits meant that moving forward it was important to think of new and effective ways to still engage remotely, in order to provide continued support to young people.
“Before COVID, our counselling was directed solely at our young people. We soon realised there is also a need to support parents and legal carers.” This was a learning process for all Alliance organisations featured in the episode, with each focusing on increased communications, particularly through social media. This included WhatsApp groups with parents, weekly phone calls with registered parents, weekly newsletters, zoom classes, and more. These methods allowed parents and carers to stay informed and opened the space to ask for support.
Sérgio Prata, Fight for Peace’s designated Safeguarding Lead, thinks we should do more work with parents to provide them with the support systems needed to equip them in encouraging young people’s participation. Podcast guests suggest facilitating special training sessions and parent interaction days either once a week, or once a month where parents can also talk to each other about their children’s training and growth.
“Whatever you are doing with parents has to remain a long-term initiative.” Despite this, it is also important to remain mindful of young people’s circumstances and lives at home. Not all young people will feel comfortable with their parents or carers in their space, so these programmes may have to be done separately, or at different times.
Ultimately, the pandemic has welcomed some positive changes to how organisations build relationships and interact with parents and carers of young people. More parents have started to ask questions, and some have even expressed a need to train, which has expanded the community and had a positive impact on how people appreciate martial arts, and the positive influence it can have on young people’s lives and mental health.
The entire Fighting Back podcast series, including the latest episode, is available to listen to on several hosting platforms and can be accessed here.
As always, a huge thank you to all of the Fight for Peace Alliance member organisations and representatives who participated in this episode – Vulcan Learning Centre, Gloves not Gunz CIC, Switch Up CIC, Sheffield City Boxing Club and Fight for Peace. Also, a continued thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund and Sport England for their support of this initiative.