Skip to content
Published -
November 19, 2020

Engaging young people during the COVID-19 pandemic

In July 2020, we launched our £6.4m COVID-19 Learning Project for organisations based in England and Wales. The grant had two aims: first, to provide targeted support to young people at risk of being involved in violence; and second, to learn fast about the best ways to reach vulnerable young people during a period of social distancing.


We’ve produced this Insights Brief to help organisations working with children and young people, particularly those living in difficult circumstances and who might be at risk of becoming involved in crime and violence.

It provides clear, practical advice to help when face-to-face support and group activities can’t go ahead safely, so that you can continue to build strong, positive relationships even at a time of social distancing.

The Brief is based on existing evidence and the experiences of more than 100 organisations that have been funded by the Youth Endowment Fund’s (YEF) £6.4m COVID-19 Learning Project. Each of them has shared what they’ve learned through adapting their work to continue supporting young people through the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a time when more young people are at risk of becoming isolated and disconnected, we hope this Brief will support you to make sure they stay engaged with the trusted adults in their lives.

How organisations can respond

Use the right tools

There are lots of ways to engage young people during the pandemic. Which ones will work best depends on the needs of the young people
you’re supporting and the situations they’re facing. This Brief outlines how you can best use online and remote approaches, detached and street-based youth work, outdoor activities and support for young people’s basic needs.

Be flexible

The best way to use these approaches is to be flexible. Use different methods together, personalise your responses based on what young people tell you and start small by piloting new activities.

Working with others

Don’t do it alone.

Partnering with families, schools, community organisations and statutory services can support successful engagement.

Use existing relationships.

Each of these partnerships may work better with some young people than others. However, applying one common principle can help: use relationships you already have with partners and young people. It’s easier to build on trust you’ve already established.