We hope you and your family are staying safe and well during this time.
Like you, Encounter Youth is responding quickly to the challenges COVID-19 presents.
Over the past few weeks, the Encounter Youth team has changed both the normal day-to-day way we operate and some of the programs we offer.
Our vision remains clear and compelling. We seek to make a positive difference in the world. Thus, we’re ready to support our community and society at large in the face of these uncertain times.
To keep you in the loop, allow me to share with you some of the changes we’ve made.
Hindley Street Program
On 17 March, we announced the proactive measure to cease sending our volunteer teams out on Saturday nights. As you may know, all licensed venues were ordered to close the following week. The Hindley Street Program will recommence as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Our Education team presented their last seminar in schools on 12 March. We are currently reviewing how best we support school communities with our program into the future.
At this point, Schoolies Festival™ 2020 will go ahead as planned for November.
Encounter Youth will continue to monitor and follow the official guidance from State and Federal Government and health authorities in our ongoing planning. We will take the necessary actions as required and communicate with all attendees, stakeholders and volunteers in the lead up to the event.
During this time, we will not be standing down any of our staff team members. They are continuing to work in a safe, connected, isolated work environment onsite and at home while fully complying with the State and Federal Government and health authority directives.
While our office is not open for face-to-face meetings, our staff team is available via phone, email, social media and face-to-screen connection. We are using this time as an opportunity to develop our organisation and to find ways to support the community.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is an incredibly serious challenge, we also believe that it provides an opportunity for the community to practically support each other.
Consistent with what we do through our Schoolies Operation and Hindley Street Programs, we encourage you to look for opportunities to care for one another in creative ways. Yes, we can’t slap hive fives, but we can still positively engage with others. Wisely practicing social distancing doesn’t need to leave us socially stranded. In fact, simple acts of kindness—even of the digital kind—are infectious and can bring positive community change!
What’s more, we see this as an opportunity to make a difference in our world. We invite you to join us in considering ways in which we can change the narrative in both word and deed.
Changing the Narrative
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be posting positive messaging on our social media channels:
We’ll also be sharing accurate information from government health organisations with pro-tips on keeping healthy, including a regular dose of banter to keep morale boosted.
As part of the positive messaging campaign, we want to know what you are doing in your local community. Send us your stories, photos or videos via message or email and we’ll share them on our social media. For example, we have boxes of perishable refreshments that would normally be used by our Hindley Street Program volunteers. Rather than it going to waste, we’re donating them to The Salvation Army to be distributed to people in need. We’re asking this question: How can we turn negatives into positives?
If you have something positive to share or have an idea of how we can support the community, let us know. These challenging days have gifted us the opportunity to change the narrative. Let’s spread some good news together!
While COVID-19 is affecting us all in some way, we would especially like to acknowledge the impact on Year 12 students. In this time of uncertainty and change, as classes are postponed, assignments are rescheduled and celebrations cancelled, our thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of students wondering, “What’s next?”. With many schools transitioning to online learning, we pray for those students anxious about feeling isolated from friends and teachers. Let’s continue to encourage, support and uplift Year 12 students as they resume their final year of schooling and adapt to online learning.
Finally, from all our team, we pray for peace if you are anxious, strength if you are tired and joy if you are downcast. As Philippians 4:6 says,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.
Let’s be the difference our community is looking for. Let’s change the narrative.
Encounter Youth CEO