The challenge of isolation and social distancing is hitting young people the hardest and, with the NSPCC labelling this situation a ‘perfect storm’ for online grooming and exploitation, it’s more important than ever that they receive structured guidance.
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has digitally adapted the REBOOT programme to ensure that young people coming to the attention of the police continue to receive vital early intervention.
Before, Police Community Support Officers would visit the home of the family and REBOOT coaches would offer 1-1 personalised support. However, all face-to-face support in people’s homes and community settings has been temporarily suspended. So, REBOOT is now engaging with young people and their families solely via telephone, video conferencing and online activities.
Mrs Bourne said: “What REBOOT has taught us so far is that young people thrive in structured, positive and encouraging environments, which we know many across Sussex may not have at home.
“There is a concern from police and partners that this crisis could not only limit the development of these children significantly but also that it could make those already vulnerable, even more susceptible to exploitation from criminals who seek to benefit from this pandemic.
“The social constraints of the Covid-19 situation provide us with a unique opportunity to challenge ourselves to communicate in different ways. I’m determined to tap into our digital resources and do everything I can to ensure that critical support and guidance is still available for vulnerable young people and their families.”
Carl, a REBOOT coach, is still engaging with young people via video chat and has prepared a structured personalised plan for them all to see them through isolation.
He says: “The personalised plan I have developed makes sure that the young people I work with have structure to their days in isolation and an understanding of the current crisis and how they can play their part by staying at home. We are also currently working with partners like Active Sussex to provide them with links to different activities that they can do from home to stay fit and healthy. This will be a welcome distraction for many of them who are struggling with the social distancing measures in place.”
The PCC has also made funds available to encourage sports and fitness in gardens by providing skipping ropes, swingballs, boxing bags and various other items so that young people can keep fit and busy during this time period.
REBOOT is continuing to take on new referrals during this time and have increased the current caseloads to help provide support to as many young people as possible. For more information visit: https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/reboot/