Partnership working comes to the fore as Govan Youth Information Project provides daily meals for children in the local area.

Govan Youth Information Project (GYIP) was set up 26 years ago to help young people with education and advancement to help them move out of poverty. Today the charity runs five groups a week for children and young people from the age of five upwards as well as running school holiday clubs seeing up to 300 children and young people attend across Easter, summer and October holidays. GYIP also works closely with local secondary schools delivering workshops on alcohol and drugs to educate and inform pupils.

This year has been different, however. Due to COVID-19, GYIP’s annual Easter holiday provision could not go ahead and the organisation quickly changed course to meet the needs of children, young people and families during the pandemic. Working in partnership with Govan Housing and the Salvation Army, GYIP immediately set up a free lunch programme. This meant that children who would ordinarily have their lunches at school are still receiving meals with the organisation providing food across five areas in Govan. In addition, Govan Housing have made home deliveries to families who were self-isolating and struggling for food. The housing association also assists by managing queues for lunches ensuring everyone remains safe with social distancing measures in place.

Demand for lunches is at its peak with food that normally takes two hours to be distributed taking just 35 minutes to hand out. In addition to food distribution, local organisation Make, Do & Grow are providing craft packs that are being given out during lunch times and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has set up a weekly toy bank at venues, providing further support for children and families.

Another success is that Unlockemployment, a local employment organisation which usually engages with clients at their job hub has been shadowing food provision to engage with residents and assist in their employment needs. Unlockemployment also secured short term funding to offer employment to one young person to assist GYIP’s work.

Kevin Burke, Project Manager at GYIP, says the way people have reacted to fulfilling people’s needs during COVID-19 has been impressive: “It’s been such a negative thing, COVID, but I must say that the community rallying together and offering support for us has been tremendous.”

Aside from the crucial element of partnership working that has allowed the service to come to fruition, the flexibility of Glasgow City Council in funding GYIP has been key. Given £9,000 to run the Easter programme, the organisation was given permission to use the funding in any way that would meet the needs of local children and young people when schools closed, thus the food provision scheme was put into action quickly. Kevin reports that funders have been understanding of the current situation and have allowed GYIP to concentrate on working on the frontline during the pandemic.

Kevin is concerned that as the lockdown continues things will get worse for families as their finances and food supplies may dwindle. Hopeful that GYIP can continue to provide services, the organisation’s social media presence has been key to achieving extra funding. Through communication with funders and other charitable organisations including the Rangers Charity Foundation, Foundation Scotland and Feeding Britain, GYIP has secured further funding. This is just a small number of organisations that have donated with others providing goods such as Easter eggs and other monies.

GYIP has received feedback from families thanking them for their services at this crucial time. Kevin however also has his eye on the impacts of lockdown on children and young people in the weeks and months to come: “Goodness knows what kind of souls we might find at the end of this if they’ve been cooped up in a house where there’s different addictions problems and poverty so we need to be braced and prepared for that on the other side.” Agile in nature, GYIP intends to adapt its services further to meet whatever needs present among children and young people providing funding allows them the flexibility.

At a time when the most essential needs of children and young people have been put in jeopardy, GYIP has moved swiftly and has impressively altered its services to meet those needs. Being a small organisation with just three members of staff has allowed them to be innovative and agile. Partnership working has been crucial to the new services being rolled out and as such, GYIP’s services are an example of integration in action at the most challenging of times.

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