Compass Collective look towards a new year.
As we closed our workshops and the year came to an end, it is hard to believe that we have been meeting online, on zoom, for the majority of 2020. A year that at the beginning marked the new decade and for Compass Collective, a year of exciting collaborations and people to meet. Now however, the idea of getting a group of young people on stage and filling an auditorium of people, feels so far away, that we are reminded of the things we need as humans to survive, let alone thrive.
2020 brings images of outstretched arms as we clung onto each other (metaphorically of course) to remain connected in a time that we had to spend apart. Remaining connected has been our main priority and we are hopeful to think that we have been able to offer this to all the young people we work with. Through the days of initial uncertainty and fear, through the summer months of warmth and the great outdoors and as the days got shorter and colder, Compass Collective has been here ready for those who needed support. Whether it be a friendly face, help with English and homework or a space to be silly for an hour and laugh with others.
As we celebrated our way to the end of the online festivals and drank in the last of the summer sun, the looming winter months suddenly felt very present, and the uncertainty of going into winter and its darkness brought feelings among the team of ‘this is far from over’ and ‘what happens next?’.
We came together with some of our participants that we have been working with for a while and talked openly about what we needed to continue doing and how we could best support our community. What came up in our conversation was that due to the many lockdowns, and unaccompanied minors still arriving into the UK; access to English language learning and support has massively dropped because of schools and colleges closing and the demand for online ESOL classes high.
We realised that this was something that we might have overlooked, that in order for young people to take part in our workshops, in this time of uncertainty, teaching English was one way that we could help, build a stronger community and offer support to those who arrived into this country in the middle of the pandemic when all services had closed or were extremely limited.
Immediately we got to work, pulling in all the favours we could to get an online English support class run by a TEFL qualified teacher and keep our creative sessions going so that our regulars and drop-ins still had a place to come and connect.
It is safe to say that we pulled it off, and as the weeks went by, the numbers increased, our community grew stronger and friendships were made. We would all spend the week looking forward to Friday evenings that felt like an outbreath or even sigh of relief.
We knew who was most likely to turn up and relished in the excitement of welcoming a new referral we had received through the week “we have someone new joining us!! how did they find us?! A friend of someone who’s been coming for weeks! AMAZING!” etc…
There is a real joy in seeing the pixelated faces of people who you know have worked hard even to turn up and join you, it’s a feeling of relief that they came back and it makes us work hard, to ensure that people come back again and again because staying connected is what is important and we need it to survive.
As we enter and new year/tier/lockdown/who knows, the top of our list is to bring the sessions back. Compass Collective doesn’t exist without its participants, the wider our network, the stronger our community, the louder the voices and the more opportunities arise and we fight to make change happen.
We are dedicated to offer young people seeking sanctuary the confidence and resilience to be the creative individuals of tomorrow. 2021 is hopeful, although a rocky start, but we believe that we have a platform and support from some great people and organisations, that will together, pull through to a time we can shout and sing to each other from across a room.
About the Artwork: This image has been created by a friend of Compass Collective, Milly Rolle, who illustrated the audio feedback from our online English and Creative sessions. We hope it represents the wonderful people we work with and the joy they bring.