Jamie’s story: helping Jamie to get back outside

Jamie’s family have really struggled as a result of the pandemic due his mum’s ill health; she has been shielding throughout and the family have had to socially distance from her in the home – they couldn’t even give her a hug. Jamie was so worried about his mum catching COVID that he stayed indoors, afraid to leave in case he passed it on to her. The first lockdown was a real strain and Jamie was feeling so down that he only left his bed to get some food or a drink. He doesn’t have many friends to talk to and we were concerned about his wellbeing, so we offered to match him with a volunteer mentor who could support him remotely and provide an outlet to talk about his worries.

At first Jamie was shy and needed some encouragement, but once he started talking to his mentor every fortnight on video calls he really opened up and started to look forward to the sessions. He always made sure he was ready for the call, preparing games and running through quizzes with his family. He even took on the Youth Adventure Thrive Award last summer, which got him out of the house. The Award had three elements which he had to complete: he went geo-caching with his dad for the Challenge element, he walked the dog for the Volunteer element, and helped cook for the family for his Create element.

A combination of the one to one support he received from his mentor and having some virtual YAT challenges to join in with made a real difference to the way Jamie coped with the lockdowns, giving him something positive to focus on and giving his family some support during a really difficult period of isolation for them.

“The mentoring calls got him back downstairs out of his room, gave him someone to talk to and helped with his social skills. It was fun for us to overhear Jamie and his mentor playing games and laughing! Jamie was so worried about spreading the virus, if it wasn’t for these sessions, I don’t think he’d have gone back to school – they really helped prepare him for it.”

Jamie’s Mum & Dad

We were delighted to resume ‘in person’ activity sessions in the October half term, but his mum’s health and the fear of passing on the virus was still a huge worry for Jamie and he didn’t feel able to join us. His Programme Manager and mentor arranged some additional sessions to help build his confidence ahead of the February Activity Days, and with the extra lure of some bushcraft activities he was really interested in, he found the confidence to join us. He loves all things bushcraft and he didn’t stop smiling all day! He also made it to a group session in the Easter holidays and we were so pleased to see the positive changes in Jamie; he’s clearly feeling much more comfortable and it was great to see him thrive in the outdoor environment.

We know that Jamie isn’t alone in dealing with the worry of COVID-19 and the consequences of the pandemic. Recent feedback shows that 100% of our young people who were matched with a mentor found the sessions were positive, helpful and enabled them to take part in hobbies or activities that they enjoyed. 86% of them reported that they were more physically active because of the sessions. COVID may have forced us to change the way we support our young people, but we are so pleased that we could continue to help them build resilience and give them the help they needed throughout.