Contemplating the next era of the Foundations work: five key questions our Chair is asking himself…

1.    How are the needs, wants and expectations of our customers (partners, young people, supporters, staff, volunteers) going to change?

There will undoubtedly be changes in the needs of young people post Covid-19, and these will likely range from [health related] exercise and diet, to mental health issues caused by, among other things, physical isolation from peer groups and extended family. These issues could also impact our staff and volunteers, and DMSF needs to adapt its approach to recognise and respond to these issues.  

You can read our response to the recent Department of Culture Media & Sport Select Committee which goes into the more detail about the immediate impact of Covid-19 on the Youth Sector, here.

2.    How will the pace of digitisation that has increased during the crisis, manifest itself? 

I see this as a real positive impact of Covid-19. We have demonstrated [during lockdown] that we can effectively reach our young people, staff, volunteers and supporters without face-to-face contact.

We have achieved this via a programme of remote training sessions, live streaming initiatives, 1:1 counselling over the phone and online, an online mentoring service and providing nutrition to the young people on our programmes via our ‘Fit & Fed’ campaign.

We need to adapt and make this part of the ‘new normal’ in a positive way that doesn’t detract from the physical aspects and benefits of the DMSF programmess and interface. 

3.    Could the disruption to the education system, cause skills shortages that will affect our young people in the future? 

There will need to be a real focus on developing a careers mindset in our young people going forward; not only to counteract the reduction of tutoring that has occurred [during lockdown] in some critical educational periods (GCSEs for example), but also to prepare our young people for the economic downturn which will likely impact future job prospects.

DMSF will need to make careers a big part of our future focus and we have made a good start with the development of our ‘Building the Future’, careers fair with a difference, now in its third year.

We will continue to work with our partners from a variety of sectors including surveying and construction, healthcare and hair & make-up for film, TV and theatre, to provide a platform for young people to achieve amazing things, and give them the best chance of success.

4.    Will remote sessions become more regular and consistent?

We need to take learnings from Covid-19 and although remote should never replace physical sessions, we have shown we can reach our young people more readily so we need to look at supplementing our programmes with a well thought out and structured remote interface. 

5.    Will staff want to work for purpose-driven organisations? 

The community and social aspects of lockdown have been at the fore of national opinion on how the virus has affected our thinking.

We have seen the best in human nature in relation to the NHS and since the outbreak of Covid-19, communities have sprung into action; neighbours are connecting and looking out for each other more than usual, informal support groups in local areas have organised to support people in need, and now there are over 2,000 groups listed on the mutual aid website established during the pandemic (source: gov.uk).

DMSF has great connections with its local communities and we now need to do more to reinforce our objectives and values, and to allow more organisations and individuals access to contribute to tangible social initiatives.