How Spotlight responded to the pandemic


How Spotlight responded to the pandemic

With second lockdown approaching we thought we’d take a look back to how we adapted to pandemic back in March…

Youth Worker Support:

The sudden announcement of the first lockdown, with people being told to “stay at home” and schools (and youth services) told to close their doors, was an incredibly stressful time for young people.

At Spotlight, we know how important keeping young people supported is. So, we moved our one-to-ones, where young people can receive individualised support from youth workers, online and on the phone to make sure we could regularly keep in contact to support them through the stay-at-home period. We also continued to reach out to new young people through socially-distanced street outreach.

Between March and September 2020 we engaged 1040 young people in these remote sessions, making 4657 calls overall.


A tasty vegetarian meal from Munch Box. Photo credit: Munch Box

Munch Box:

The pandemic meant that holiday hunger was put in the spotlight even more than usual this year, partly thanks to Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals.

Spotlight worked with The Kidz Cafe over summer to deliver healthy, delicious and free meals to young people age 11-19 over the summer holidays.

Running out of Lansbury and Mile End Spotlight, this programme ran 4 days a week over the holiday and offered delicious, vegetarian home-cooked meals to young people who needed them. Recipients were also given recipe cards so they could try their hand at recreating the meals at home.

In total, the service gave out 564 meals during the summer holidays.

As well as food, Munch Box made sure that young people received support from youth workers and access to our summer programme.

Tower Hamlets is one of the highest recipients of Government funded free school meals, with 57% of the borough’s young people identified as living in poverty, according to the Tower Hamlets Borough Equality Assessment. 33% of primary aged children receive free school meals compared to the national average of 14%.

“It’s important to recognise that young people need support and their mental health needs must be taken into consideration during this challenging time. That’s why we are pleased to offer a comprehensive programme in a safe space.  It will reduce isolation, build healthy relationships and improve their mental health.  It’s important they know they are not alone and support is here for them”. – Daniel Rose, Spotlight Director


The home set up of one of our music technicians, who ran digital sessions during lockdown

Digital Programme:

While the doors of youth centres had to close in March, that did not mean that our programmes ground to a halt! Instead, we pulled together and created a whole new digital programme.

We ran over 400 sessions over Zoom and published a whole range of pre-recorded on our Instagram, covering: healthy meal prep, home music studio setup and advice, art and dance challenges, freestyle competitions, home workouts and more!

“Since joining some spotlight online sessions, my confidence has grown, I feel like I’ve been able to open up about issues and talk to my youth worker. All the sessions were enjoyable as, we all have fun and get to speak to each other. Particularly during quarantine, the zoom calls have allowed all of us to communicate and have fun from home.” – Young person

“I really enjoyed in because lockdown was boring and affected my mental health so it was nice to talk to other people and share my feelings with others” – Young person

It was also amazing to open our doors again during the Summer Holidays and welcome young people back for five weeks of mixed in-person and online programmes to get them through the long and socially distant summer.

Several highlights included construction workshops with RUrban Poplar, empowerment workshops for young people of colour with I Go By Agency, dance school with One Youth Dance.


But we can’t talk about our summer programme without shouting out our amazing collaboration with Apple for the Made in LDN ‘Music Survival’ programme.

Run by DJ Carly Wilford, Music Survival offered a group of young and talented music artists a five week professional artist development programme and access to inspirational industry professionals, including Aitch, Young T and Bugsey and Cuppy.

This programme provided the young artists with the skills and confidence to produce fresh and exciting music.

“The program has been the single most important thing for me as an artist to develop my skills and confidence”
“I hope to form long lasting relationships with the great talent at Spotlight and Apple who’ve give me this immeasurable opportunity and empowered me to be the artist I want to be” – Solomon aka SolostIII


Health Spot:

We launched our very own remote GP service, dedicated to the well-being of young people, with collaboration with Tower Hamlets GP Care Group in April.

While the service was initially planned to run out of Lansbury Spotlight, we quickly adapted it to offer over the phone and video call medical appointments instead.

Health Spot offers friendlyconfidential medical appointments with a GP who is experienced in supporting young people with health needs. It also offers referral out to Docklands Outreach (mental health support) and Compass Safe East  (drugs, alcohol and sexual health support), as well as to Spotlight’s enrichment programme

“The GP I spoke with was super lovely, understanding, sweet and caring.”

“The call was very confidential and I felt safe and felt like I could say anything because I trust you guys (GP and youth worker)” – Young person (Male, aged 18)

A Note from the Mayor:

Listen to Tower Hamlets Council Mayor John Biggs and Deputy Mayor Asma Begum praise Spotlight’s response to the pandemic with Spotlight Youth & Community Engagement Manager Nahim Ahmed.