As we come to the end of this unusual year, our Interim Manager, Susie McIntyre, shares some thoughts on the challenges and achievements of the last 12 months…
2020 certainly has been a strange and challenging year. At CY a lot has changed and as we approach the Christmas holidays it’s a time to reflect on what we have faced, learned and achieved.
Ellie left us back in March and we took the decision to review our staffing structure – in particular our leadership team. I am delighted to have been appointed as Deputy Manager alongside the appointment of Clare Jamieson as CY Manager. Clare and I started at CY a few months apart back in 2007 and have worked very closely together ever since. We are both extremely passionate about the organisation and the work we do with our children and young people, within our community. We have an amazing team and are very much looking forward to working together, in managing the organisation, as we move into 2021. Clare is currently on maternity leave and we are all eagerly awaiting news of the new arrival.
As with most organisations the global pandemic we find ourselves in has had a huge impact on CY. We are working very differently these days; since March the staff team have been working from home and we have moved to running all our services remotely. We have adapted as time has gone on – from online virtual supports and clubs to outdoor activities and walks and more recently recommencing face to face work indoors. We have been able to adapt to every change thrown our way and I am proud to be part of an organisation and sector with such diverse skills, resilience and a desire to ensure that children and young people do not lose out on much needed support during this time. It has not been easy though; the basis of all our work is connection and positive relationships and whilst we have operated virtually it has been challenging to develop, nurture and grow these relationships without face to face contact. Working from home has been tough for the team who also thrive on connection, the contact they have with their colleagues and the support and encouragement we provide each other on a daily basis. Again we have adapted and have kept up our means of communication thanks to the wonder of Teams chats!! It doesn’t, however, replace the vital conversations we have in the office and whilst making a cup of tea!
We have had to face some tough decisions over the last 9 months, more specifically the difficult decision to close our Old School Cafe, a fantastic service for young people but one which unfortunately we were unable to sustain financially. Sadly, we lost Dan and Lewis from the team and dealing with this under remote restrictions was even more difficult. Dan and Lewis made a huge contribution to CY and we will always be grateful for this.
Our base at South Bridge Resource Centre has been closed since the end of March. We are still awaiting information about when the building will reopen and it is becoming increasingly more difficult for us to operate without premises. Youth Work plays a crucial role in the lives of children, young people and their families and in early September, under the specific Youth Work guidance, we were given the go ahead to deliver face-to-face work with individuals and groups. Many other youth projects have been able to restart their services but without premises we are struggling. We have been lucky to have local partnerships and are thankful to the Crags Sports Centre and the Charteris Centre for allowing us to use their space in the interim but we desperately need to get back to the familiarity of our own building. Our children and young people have always described CY as a “safe space” with a “homely feel” and now, more than ever, they need the familiar CY surroundings returned to their lives. They have a right to this space, they want to be back in this space and they have a right for this need to be heard. We are working closely with our partners, local councillors and LAYC to present our case for reopening and very much hope that we can work together to make this happen in the New Year. I welcome any further support in helping us achieve this and am very keen to hear from our community on what it would mean to them to have us operating from our own regular location again.
We have learned a lot during this time and we want to take that learning forward with us into 2021, to continue to grow and develop in what we do. We have also continued to do what we always do; adapting to change, putting children and young people at the centre of our work and making sure they have the support and access to opportunities they need and deserve.
We wish you all a very merry Christmas, when it comes, and look forward to hopefully welcoming you all back to CY HQ very soon!
~ Susie McIntyre, Interim Manager.