By Eve Johnson-Jones
THROUGHOUT lockdown Mahdlo Youth Zone was forced to close its doors but now as restrictions are eased some of its vital face-to-face support measures are restarting.
While the centre on Egerton Street in Oldham was shut, Mahdlo provided remote support and interaction online and by phone calls as part of its ‘Youth Zone at Home’ offering.
This ensured the youth zone kept in touch with each of its 4,000 plus members, as well as making 300 homes visits during lockdown. This will continue for the foreseeable future.
Now, from Monday, July 13 the centre is reopening to a small number of members on an invite only basis for young people who will benefit most from regular, face-to-face engagement.
The centre is following capacity management, social distancing and hygiene guidance from the government, Public Health England, the NHS, Health and Safety Executive and wider stakeholders including Oldham Council.
Many sessions are limited and will be slightly different to pre Covid-19. Only fifteen members are allowed to attend each hour-long session.
Groups will be staggered in the centre to avoid large numbers of people gathering in one space.
Some of the facilities will remain closed such as the gym, sports hall and tuck shop, and more activities will take place outside where possible.
The centre will have a cleaning team constantly on the go between sessions and there are hand sanitiser stations throughout the buildings and social distance markers on the floor.
The changes have been announced following recent guidance endorsed by the government from national body for youth work, the National Youth Agency (NYA).
Lucy Lees, Deputy Chief Executive at Mahdlo, said: “At the start of the coronavirus crisis, we pivoted our delivery model to ensure local youngsters could still gain vital access to trusted, professional youth workers remotely.
“With many young people still out of school and education, Mahdlo will play an even more crucial role in helping them to readjust to socialising, travelling and getting back into a routine.
“Youth services are an essential part of helping a generation of young people that stand to be hit hardest by the economic, social, health and mental wellbeing implications of the crisis for many years to come.
“Achieving this while protecting the health and wellbeing of young people, employees, volunteers and the wider community is our primary focus.
“We will not cut corners when it comes to delivering the best for our young people. We will not give up on supporting our community in any way we can.
“All plans will be closely monitored and may adjust in response to internal and external factors, so we will continue to keep the community updated via our website and social media, where we have also included some responses to frequently asked questions.”
Mahdlo will continue to monitor and review the evolving lockdown restrictions and remain responsive to any future changes or requirements.
Due to the coronavirus lockdown, the youth zone has not been able to continue its charity work and fundraising, resulting in a shortfall of more than £250,000 by the end of 2020. If you feel able to help fundraise email Claire.Crossfield@mahloyz.org
Find out more about Mahdlo’s changes on their website: https://www.mahdloyz.org/get-back-in-the-zone/