Despite testing circumstances from 2020, Element Society has continued to help young people in many ways, and has adapted to new ways of working in order to allow them to do so.

As soon as lockdown measures were first introduced, Element launched the #RonaDiaries blog on its website, which allowed young people to submit their thoughts, fears, feelings and advice about the pandemic and the circumstances it forced us to live in, in whatever form they felt comfortable with.

Around the time restrictions were being introduced, Street Reach, an outreach project funded by The Home Office, was approaching its finishing date. The project saw youth workers go into communities in Sheffield where young people are at high risk of getting involved with or falling victim to gang, gun and knife crime. Sentiment from the project was that there is little shortage of aspiration amongst the young people, but more a shortage of opportunities available for free. When the project was cut short due to Covid, the funders allowed the remaining money to be spent on audio and video recording equipment, which will allow Element to help teach young people these sorts of skills in future programmes. 

This equipment quickly came in useful when the Blue Dot and Red Light programmes (where young people volunteer to run workshops in schools about supporting friends struggling with poor mental health, and spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation) found they were unable to go into schools to deliver due to schools needing to stay as Covid-safe as possible and reducing visitors to a minimum. But these projects, designed by young people for young people, found a new way to engage the young people - using the new recording equipment to digitise their workshops so it could reach as many young people as possible. You can download these workshops for free here, or view them on Element Society’s YouTube channel.

While lockdown restrictions were eased over Summer and Autumn, Element was able to run adapted versions of the NCS Programme; Keep Doing Good (Summer) and Autumn Activities. These programmes allowed young people to come into the building to learn new skills and run social action projects in an environment that staff ensured was as Covid-safe as possible. All said, over 100 young people have been involved with Element Society at their HQ in the city centre since March 2020, and between them, they’ve run 11 Social Action Projects and had 0 confirmed cases of Coronavirus.

But it doesn’t stop there! While all this was going on, Tashinga Matewe continued to run the Girls Collective (a group aimed at supporting and raising aspirations of Muslim girls in the city, by doing sessions online), Jasmine Watson started working with Chilypep on the collaborative Gen Z project, and Tes Awoke launched Youth Force, a project which sees young people run their own online campaign for Element which encourages young people to follow social distancing guidelines, download the NHS app, and help people isolate.

Now, as (fingers crossed) vaccines are helping us out of the pandemic, Element Society has launched the Community Responders project in order to give young people who want to help Sheffield recover from the Pandemic an opportunity to do so. Alongside this, The Identity Project will be relaunching having been put on hold due to Winter restrictions. Four new exciting new projects are funded and are being planned too, relating to cooking, employability, gang involvement, and skills development. There are exciting times ahead for Element Society and the young people of Sheffield!