With the hardships of the pandemic affecting us all, we caught up with Beth Major from The Junction, which is a charitable organisation based in Redcar.
The Junction works with children, young people and families. They aim to make a difference to lives through person-centred support, providing specialist & targeted services information and guidance through its range of services including young carers, children and young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health, youth services and youth employment.
Can you tell me the best thing about your company?
I think the best thing about our organisation is the level of commitment our team have shown over my time here. The difference that genuine care makes, shows in our young people and families.
You can’t fake genuine care because children, young people and families can sense your motivations, it’s the basis of a trusting relationship that enables workers to work with people to plan for real change .
What is your proudest achievement so far?
As an organisation, we’ve overcome so much and continued to maintain growth, alongside the needs of our young people’s mental health. We’ve sustained our quality of services and we’ve developed skills and policies to respond to that growth.
I remember when we had a young group of people who reported to the Junction board and participated in some campaign work. With Dependable Productions, they made a series of four videos about children and young people’s mental health, social isolation and being a young carer, all of which are available on YouTube.
It was hard for me to let them have control! But we provided a safe environment for them to express their creativity and in reality the finished product was better than anything professionals could have come up with, as it was done with young people genuinely in control. They thoroughly enjoyed film making and using green screen, which they got to show at a community event.
What challenges have you faced over the last year and how have you overcome them?
We’ve faced huge challenges in terms of logistics, keeping our staff safe and our services online, then gradually moving back to face to face work. As we were one of the first organisations to remobilise, there were concerns around safeguarding. As a cloud based organisation, we could still work under lockdown so we haven’t stopped delivery at any point.
However, we moved our group work online for a lot of young people and did a lot of “digital inclusion” to send out access materials. We’ve considered how we looked after our workforce, but there were concerns around young carers and people having access to food in the first few days of lockdown.
We supported a lot of referrals and signposting because it’s not just food poverty, it’s also about food access. Some people can’t go shopping because they need to look after vulnerable people who are shielding.
Things have changed at every stage moving to concerns around social isolation, restarting services in a COVID secure way, but we managed both through the support of funding to meet costs and the flexibility of staff to do what is needed to meet changing needs.
What are you looking forward to later in the year?
We have exciting plans for campaigning social issues, as well as plans for a “Positive Messages Campaign” which will highlight the amazing things that young people do in our community. The resilience of our young people never ceases to amaze me. They’re experiencing increased pressure and yet they still smile, show up and give back to others.
We’ve also got the end of the commissioning cycle with our young carers, so we’re making sure the opportunities are better for young people going forward. Our children’s mental health service, social prescribing programme and pathways to wellness are very important to us.
What would you say is the best thing about Redcar and Cleveland?
I would say the best thing are the people. I think everything we’ve been through recently has brought out the fighting spirit in millions of different ways.
From our partners and stakeholders, to mutual groups in the area that have helped us out. The support we’ve had as an organisation speaks to the community spirit. We are resilient, have a huge community spirit and that provides mutual support that helps each other up.