Charities, businesses and the arts have joined forces to support thousands of young people across Greater Manchester during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative, led by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, will see 22,000 Creative Care kits distributed to young people who are not online, and so may be feeling more isolated and lonely during this difficult time.
Each kit contains 36 pages of activities, hints and tips on protecting your mental wellbeing and a set of art materials. As well as giving young people something to do, the kits will help create a sense of connection at a time when they are not able to rely on face-to-face interactions.
The project has been made possible through a unique collaboration of more than 25 organisations including Contact, Unity Radio, Castlefield Gallery, Gallery Oldham, Bolton Octagon, Venture Arts, the Turnpike Gallery, The Lowry, Touchstones and 42nd Street, who have worked together to create the kits.
Working with local authorities and education providers, the kits will be distributed to young people aged between 13 and 20, who may be struggling with their mental health, or might be a care leaver, a young carer or not in education, employment or training.
The packs started arriving at young people’s home from 1 June 2020, via volunteer networks across the city-region.
Councillor David Greenhalgh, Leader of Bolton Council and GMCA Lead for Culture, said: “It’s a pleasure to support this fantastic piece of work across Greater Manchester which will benefit 22,000 young people as we all continue to work through the Covid-19 crisis. It’s also fantastic to see so many organisations and charities across the cultural and voluntary sectors in Greater Manchester come together in delivering such a valuable initiative. This marvellous spirit of collaboration between more than 25 organisations from across the city-region makes this project really unique.
“As well as giving young people something to do while spending more time at home, the kits will also reinforce the message that recipients are not on their own - creating a sense of connection at a time when they are not able to rely on face-to-face interactions with family, friends and support networks.
“The kits will be dropped off at the homes of those young people who have been carefully selected, containing all kinds of useful items such as a CD from Unity radio – introducing new and exciting Greater Manchester artists – and a growing kit so you can see new shoots grow wherever you are. Other activities within the kit can be completed using materials found around the home or are provided in the pack focusing on music, writing, craft, dance and visual arts.”
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Leader of Bury Council and GMCA Lead for Young People and Cohesion, said: “The Creative Care Kits are a fantastic way to inspire young people who most need our support and help them with their health and wellbeing.
“We recognise that schools, colleges and other groups have responded brilliantly to the pandemic by creating and sharing online content for young people. However, we are aware that there are many young people who cannot access this content or connect with friends and support networks because of ongoing digital exclusion – so the kit will give that group of young people something to hold and see and help us to show them that we care and they are not forgotten.”
From June 1, 2020, volunteers from businesses, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, and the cultural organisations that worked on the content of the kits will work together in shifts at the University of Salford to assemble the kits and then get them out to the young people.
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