About us Our impact Nothing beats face-to-face contact for young people - An interview with Thelma Abernethy I enjoy being with people and working as a team, so I felt quite a bit of trepidation at how we were all going to manage working from home. But the introduction of the Microsoft Teams software means that I feel connected to all parts of the organisation. I also had major concerns at how we would engage with clients remotely and using social distancing, along with the impact for staff working from home with a range of personal circumstances to manage as well. That’s why I think the approach the organisation has taken has made a great difference, in allowing flexibility of working hours across seven days. I am very proud of how staff have adapted and responded to the challenges of lockdown. Managers have given excellent leadership and support, and our IT department have played an absolute blinder in very quickly getting our platforms to a good standard. Life without those changes would have been very difficult indeed for all involved. Trying to find the right platform for group work with young people was a challenge, as we need to ensure confidentiality and no sharing of personal data. We also have had to make sure that where face-to-face contact is necessary, staff have the appropriate controls in place i.e. hand washing, social distancing, and that the young people themselves are adhering to those conditions. When working with young people, nothing can ever really replace face-to-face engagement, but we have been finding new and innovative ways to engage with them. For example, our staff have provided families with resource packs for bun and pizza-making, colouring-in books, quizzes, and online app games, which have proved very enjoyable and engaging. The Third Space project has also been looking at adapting the programme to better reflect the impact of lockdown on the mental health and well-being of the young people involved. This could be done by supporting the young people to narrate their journey through lockdown in words, pictures, films etc. and providing input on looking after their mental health during and after lockdown.