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Digital youth platform proving to be a life saver

 

Enables young people to make contact and get vital support

An innovative digital youth work service is proving to be a life saver, new research says.

Pride and Pixels was developed by LGBT Youth Scotland in response to Covid-19 and the acute mental health and wellbeing implications of lockdown restrictions on young members of the LGBTI community.

Delivered via digital messaging platform Discord, particularly popular among young gamers, the service offered a safe and inclusive space for young LGBTI people to access vital information and to connect with friends and youth workers.

The Impact of LGBT Youth Scotland’s Digital Youth Work report, published by LGBT Youth Scotland, YouthLink Scotland, Edinburgh University and Northern Star, revealed that 86% of young people experienced reduced feelings of isolation, while 77% felt that their wellbeing had improved.

Nicola Booth, LGBT Youth Scotland’s head of youth work, said: “Our team has worked hard to ensure that LGBTI young people received consistent support during lockdown and beyond, and this research has really shown the value of our approach.

“For us this is just the first step and we are continuing this work to ensure that LGBTI young people get the support they need and want as Scotland recovers from the pandemic. Our Pride & Pixels community and learning hub will be a key service that will complement our face-to-face work when we can safely deliver that again in 2021."

Overall, nine out of 10 young people participating in Pride and Pixels felt an increased amount of connection, which was thought to have been crucial after previous studies suggested that lockdown could potentially trigger a mental health crisis for the young LGBTI community.

One young participant, aged 19, spoke of the potentially life-saving impact the service had on their mental health and wellbeing: “Without LGBT Youth Scotland, lockdown would have been horrible…Getting support from youth workers has helped a lot, my mental health would have been in a much worse state than it is now, and I am not sure I’d be safe or alive right now.”

Dr Amy Calder, policy and research officer at YouthLink Scotland, said the move to digital youth work in the aftermath of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions presented a challenge for the youth work sector, but the research demonstrates just how vital, potentially life-saving, these online services can be.

She added: “By providing a safe, inclusive space for young people to share their experiences and concerns, offering vital individual support, and allowing the young people to mould their own online community, youth workers at LGBT Youth Scotland really did provide a lifeline for young people across Scotland.”

Kelly McInnes, director of Northern Star, said: "Despite the upheaval and instability caused by Coronavirus in 2020, youth workers from LGBT Youth Scotland continued to provide regular digital youth work opportunities and support in a safe and secure online space.  Participating in digital youth work gave young people routine and something to look forward to.  It enabled them to remain connected with youth workers and other young people, providing support, reducing isolation and improving wellbeing.”

 

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