As we draw to the end of one of the toughest years we’ve ever experienced, New Horizon, its staff and partners have been reflecting on where we are in comparison to this time last year and where we’d like to be this time next year.
Christmas 2019 saw our day centre welcoming volunteers and young people 7 days a week. Our staff recalled warm afternoons spent together in lively activities and open discussion, rooms crammed with donations and gifts and raucous DJ sessions between staff and young people.
Christmas 2020 will be a little different. Our mission hasn’t changed, just our delivery. Youth homelessness has risen and been aggravated by the pandemic to a degree no one could have prepared for. Virtually overnight we went from an entirely in-person service to online delivery, constantly adapting to meet the needs of young Londoners with nowhere else to go.
Closing the centre doors for the first time in over 50 years, when we knew how badly we were needed as a lifeline to many, was a really tough decision to make and we were delighted to be back open again during the autumn, even with limited hours and rigorous safety procedures in place. We were so saddened to have to make the same decision when Tier 4 was announced. This will be the first Christmas in decades that our doors won't be open and the team are crushed that we can't provide our usual service. One of our Youth Work team shared: “I hope that everyone can take the time to rest and spend time with loved ones and friends.” For those struggling, we will be working hard to refer young people without a safe home to emergency accommodation and make sure we can safely re-open in the New Year.
We’re also looking forward to 2021 and are ready to put into practice the hard lessons we’ve learned this year that have given us invaluable insight. From the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, reminding us that we need to be ever more active in our anti-racism commitments. To the advocacy we’ve done to get young people on the agenda in housing provision, during and beyond the pandemic. We’ve also gained a lot from further testing the hybrid delivery model of our services, which we’re strengthening and taking forward.
This year has taught us so much, including a lot of positive things that we’ll be taking into 2021 to improve our offering and develop our resilience. A huge thank you to everyone who has found a way to support us, whether financially, in-person or online, in what’s been a time with its fair share of scarcity and fear. We appreciate each and every one of you.
Our staff shared a final reflection; that this year has improved and renewed their resilience, determination and adaptability. We will be taking time over the holidays to rest, reflect and recommit to our mission to support every young person we meet. We’re excited to share this journey with our community, supporters and young people, and we know how lucky we are to continue to do so.
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