Queanbeyan Homework Club use an art competition to create connection during lockdown

Published on 25 October 2021

Barnarodos – Queanbeyan Homework Club

The 2021 COVID-19 lockdown has significantly impacted families and individuals in the ACT region, creating enormous pressure on our local charities. Queanbeyan Homework Club is one of them. Here they describe how they adapted and the challenges they faced throughout the lockdown.

Barnardos Queanbeyan homework Hub offers a chance for young people to have their voices heard. It aims to prevent youth homelessness by re-connecting young people with their families, community, and education using face-to-face contact.

In June 2021, The Queanbeyan Homework Club applied and received a grant of $11,300 from Hands Across Canberra, the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund, and private donors. Combined with the lessons learned from the 2020 lockdown, the Queanbeyan Homework Hub could seamlessly move to an online setting and create new activities to help their community cope with the lockdown.

Their new strategy meant they could continue their option of 4 sessions per week (Monday to Thursday) using online classes, resulting in 16 of their regularly enrolled students participating in the online program. Additionally, they supported at least 6 ‘guest’ students from Family Support programs or siblings of students.

The online sessions created opportunities as students benefited from flexibility. They could attend any day of the week and as many days as they like. Some students attended almost every session available, including holiday sessions. A few students shared feedback that they look forward to joining at the end of every day to the point they requested that a Friday session be included.

Furthermore, throughout lockdown, the hub developed an Activity Booklet for families to use as ideas of safe at-home activities and has provided opportunities for families to be in regular contact with staff if support is required. Extra school holiday sessions were also provided based on fun activities, with arts and trivia well attended, followed by an art competition based on the theme of ‘Connection.’ You can see the gorgeous winning artworks in this article.

Like many in the community, Queanbeyan Homework Hub found that the lockdown created challenges for their community, and even with the option of online sessions, they could not utilise them. Students and families explained they were exhausted and overwhelmed due to the pressure of homeschooling. On top of that, these families had to consider internet expense, time costs of getting students online, and the screen-exhaustion of students who may have been attending classes or doing schoolwork in a different environment all day. Families had to decide what works best for their needs and well-being.

With the easing of restrictions in recent weeks, engagement has increased, with drop-offs now available again and face-to-face activities and inspiration for families. Hopefully, this is providing some well-deserved relief to burdened families.

The Queanbeyan Homework Club told Hands Across Canberra that supporting their students through a tough time has been a joy. They recognise the final term of 2021 will be tricky and will continue to offer online sessions and look for creative ways to engage with families leading into the holidays.

You can learn more about Barnardos by visting their website.