Burnley welcomed ROC to Turf Moor (home of Burnley Football Club) in February with a packed out and enthusiastic crowd. We heard from the High Sheriff of Lancashire, the Bishop of Burnley, local councillors, members of the Police and other members of the community. Our first ROC Action group was scheduled to meet in March but we had to move our meeting online as the COVID-19 outbreak began to impact public gatherings. We’ve now held 3 ROC Zoom calls focusing on youth engagement, isolation & loneliness and mental health. The conversations have been exciting despite the strange and uncertain context for our online gatherings. The ROC youth engagement conversation led to lots of great collaborative conversations about creating online content for young people to engage, shared social media messaging and a youth-specific befriending service shared across different groups. We are also in conversation with the Neighbourhood Police Team to talk about how local youth workers could support the Police as they engage with an increased amount of anti-social behaviour with young people, some of whom have become increasingly isolated and vulnerable now that they can’t gather in youth clubs and don’t have schools to attend. As we follow government guidelines for social distancing we will develop this initiative in partnership with the police in Burnley.

Another highlight has been the willingness for different organisations and agencies to work together and share resources and information for the benefit of the most marginalised and vulnerable in the town. With this in mind ROC in Burnley is seeking to work strategically with Burnley Together which is a partnership of different agencies offering befriending, foodbank, financial advice, shopping services and other services to support individuals and families across the town.

At some point, our ROC Action Group will actually meet face to face in a physical building but until then we are using the technology available to bring hope, develop connections and seek to create solutions to the challenges our community faces.