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Youth Column: Prepared for Anything

Friday January 7

Michael Macaulay, a young Boys' Brigade leader, describes how the BB adapted to Covid-19


March 2020 presented us all with a big challenge – Covid-19. We all had to stay at home, adapt to new ways of working and for some reason struggle to get toilet roll! Rather naively I thought that after three weeks we would be back to normal – how wrong I was!

I have been a member of the Boys’ Brigade since the age of five and after completing my Queen’s Badge I decided to stay on as a leader with the 3rd Inverness based at Crown Church.

The Boys’ Brigade suspended all face-to-face activity a week before the country went into lockdown. The Boys’ Brigade quickly adapted and produced a new digital programme called #BBatHOME – a fantastic range of resources that our children and young people could do while at home. It was great to see on social media what our children and young people were up to.

After a few weeks and no sign of lockdown lifting it was time to look at running virtual sessions – something we had never had to do before. At first these sessions were purely as a catch-up with our children and young people to ensure they were all safe and well. However, as time moved on and knowledge of how Zoom worked improved, so did our programme.

My BB company tried many different activities over the lockdowns, like crafts, quizzes, and games. We even attempted to cook together live – something that ordinarily would be logistically difficult to do in person due to numbers. My favourite dish that we made was a very simple chicken curry only using a few ingredients.

Each and every session was a reminder of how important youth work is for children and young people, particularly in the midst of living through such difficult times.

As restrictions began to lift it was great to be able to meet with our young people, albeit in smaller groups and outdoors. An outdoor programme was another way of working that we hadn’t really had to do apart from summer games in the park or at annual camps.

Surprisingly, we were very lucky with the weather apart from a heavy shower one evening when it was supposed to be dry! We were based in a marquee that was assembled and unassembled every evening – and this provided great shelter to us. With practice we got our marquee up quicker every week.

Now that restrictions have started to lift it is great to be back running BB activities indoors for our young people. The experience of running activities in new ways still carries on and we are now not afraid to run new activities.

The biggest learning point (personally for me) during the pandemic is that new activities work and not to be afraid to try delivery in a new way.

Hopefully we won’t have lockdowns to deal with again in the future, however if we do the Boys’ Brigade and youth work leaders across the country can build on their experiences from the past two years and will be prepared for anything that is thrown at them!