EPIC Assist Charity Scotland has been delivering online Scottish Girls Projects in response to COVID-19 restrictions.
After three years of delivering successful Girls and Boys youth projects throughout Scotland, EPIC was excited to further develop the concept, exploring ways in which we can take our programs to the next level. We had planned to deliver a format that would consist of in-person group sessions over several weeks and had already begun scheduling projects with Sanderson’s Wynd Primary School and Tranent Colts Football Club, with Edinburgh Central Mosque and Y-sort it in Clydebank.
It was, therefore, incredibly disappointing when these projects had to be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. EPIC prioritises the physical health and safety of our Girls and Boys, but equally values the mental health of our participants, so wanted to come up with an alternative delivery to enable partner organisations the opportunity to continue supporting local youth.
In partnership with Y-Sort it in Clydebank, EPIC was able to create an online version of the Scottish Girls Project Level 2, which primarily focused on topics relating to mental health and provided a much-needed escape from life in lockdown. It consisted of three hourly-long sessions: 1) Mental health and wellbeing; 2) Mindfulness and meditation; and 3) Body positivity and self-esteem. These sessions included a number of activities, games, videos, and guided meditations – we even created an e-booklet containing useful links to online resources.
That being said, it was the semi-structured and flexible nature of the project that allowed for an open, comforting environment. EPIC was able to facilitate the opportunity for the Girls to both laugh and share stories about the good times (often introducing one another to their parents, siblings, and pets via zoom), but it also allowed for sensitive and compassionate group discussions. The Girls felt able to reveal personal accounts of their mental health struggles, of incidents of body shaming or online bullying – even how they had felt unsupported by other adults and how they would have handled things more productively. Our discussions showed how kind, empathetic, and mature Scotland’s youth can be.
The Hugh Fraser Foundation had awarded EPIC Assist £2,345 for the Scottish Girls Project Level 2. However, we were able to deliver an initial online version for only £60. Our aspirations for the future of the project will be to continue with online delivery when necessary, but there is no true substitute for in-person psychosocial support. To bring a group of girls into one room, to watch and encourage friendships grow, and to teach necessary life skills by example continues to be one of EPIC Assist Charity Scotland’s goals for the future.
We look forward to working with our partners across Scotland in the future, to support them and their service users as we enter new phases in the easing of lockdown restrictions and are excited to announce that planning meetings and the production of content are once again underway!