Kibble developed Project Connect-19 to support care experienced young people disproportionately affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the construction of a new project support team and the development of a new model of services was introduced.
About Project Connect-19
Project Connect-19 had a monumental impact and changed the lives of 51 care-experienced young people who lived or were preparing to live independently and had been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Through the project, access to a much-needed support network during an unpredictable time was made available. Many organisations usually relied upon were possibly unavailable or unreliable due to the closure, disruption, or restriction of services. The project provided individualised flexible, participant-led support and offered access to; online support, mental health counselling, a befriending service, activities to reduce social isolation, transitions advice and digital support where access to technology was a barrier.
The project ensured no one in the group was excluded. Young people had activities to look forward to and internet top-ups to join the online events. Young people were given a purpose through college and job application advice and access to resources and materials to further develop skills related to independent living. Moving forward, young people have adopted the positive behaviours learnt such as cooking, eating well, self-care and exercising, which has had a positive effect on their wellbeing.
The online group activities and private Facebook group encouraged socialising between the group of similar young people, with many providing emotional support to one another. The project has left behind a legacy of young people forming lasting friendships, which may prevent future isolation. The young people felt belonging.
The Favourite Activity was Cooking
Young People’s Stories
“I honestly do not know where I would be if it was not for this project. They have provided food for me when I had none. I don’t feel so alone now that I have other people to talk to. I could not do that because I did not have a phone or internet. I feel like part of the world again. I have made some good friends online and I rely on the recipe boxes and the internet top-ups the project has given to me. Thank you to everyone on that project because they are all brilliant and always check in with me.” – Ronnie
“I have been suffering from social isolation and low mood since COVID-19 happened. I can’t go anywhere, and I feel stuck in one place all the time. I can’t see my friends the way I used to, and this makes me feel really down. Someone from my old residential unit called me and told me about the project. I really enjoy taking part in the online activities. There is always something different happening and I get along great with the staff who keep in touch. I’m worried about when the project ends as I look forward to catching up with other people and I like the stuff the project does.” – Rebecca
“This is the best project ever. The staff supported me constantly which helped with my anxiety. I have met some friends online and I have learned to cook, I could not cook before the project.” – Rose
* The names of all young people featured have been changed to protect their identity.