A chance to thrive: the difference we make for young people

Head Start - Kent

There from the beginning

  • We’ve given out 796 grants to help keep young people safe; preventing risk of harm and supporting young people at the earliest opportunity. Our VCS grantholders help young people to make positive choices, and raise awareness of the risk factors. Community Futures in Walsall has educated 21,800 young people and trained over 1,000 professionals to spot early signs of grooming. Angus Women’s Aid’s young healthy relationship champions have trained nearly 6,000 peers on the signs and impact of abuse, and informed the work of Police Scotland.
  • Eliminating discrimination is part of this: it’s key to ensuring all young people have access to opportunities. Black Thrive Lambeth works with authorities and services to improve outcomes for members of the Black community. They raise awareness of inequalities in outcomes, for example in relation to school exclusions and mental health; identify solutions; and train decision-makers and practitioners.
  • There’s emerging evidence of the difference early interventions can make. A randomised trial showed that BounceBack, a school-based group intervention for 9–11-year olds with emergent mental wellbeing difficulties, produced statistically significant reductions in emotional symptoms of participants. And we’ve got similar developing evidence of preventive measures saving money by helping to keep young people in mainstream education.
It has helped to talk about my problems and manage them so I can let it go
Participant, HeadStart
HeadStart has carried out the largest ever survey of young people’s mental wellbeing in England. The results suggest that the scale of mental wellbeing difficulties among young people may be higher than previously thought: just under a fifth (18.4%) of 30,000 young respondents were experiencing emotional problems, such as anxiety, low mood, or low confidence. A similar proportion (18.8%) were exhibiting behavioural problems, for example feeling very angry, being aggressive, or “acting out”.

Resilient and ready for adulthood

  • Young people tell us that mental wellbeing is one of their key concerns and something we should be supporting. So we’ve given out 4,231 grants, worth £568 million, to help young people and the adults around them to talk about and manage their mental health.
  • Our largest investment in this area is HeadStart. It’s given 201,880 young people access to wellbeing support, with 37,400 receiving additional help, such as talking therapies. And the programme has trained 246,540 professionals and volunteers.
  • We also support young people who are already experiencing difficulties, who are at specific risk points, experiencing trauma or distress. Bereavement charities are an example of this – they help young people to come to terms with their grief and start to rebuild their lives. In Hampshire, Simon Says supports 300 children who’ve lost someone who was important to them. With help from 92 volunteers, who gave around 1,500 hours of their time in 2019 alone, Simon Says also trains teachers, showing how communities go the extra mile to support young people when they need it.
  • The VCS also explores emerging mental health risks and triggers, such as gaming, and supports new ways of delivering services. Like walk and talk counselling in Blackpool, which leads to a decrease in negative emotions for around three-quarters of participants.
Our Women and Girls Initiative has supported over 7,600 young women who’ve experienced violence, abuse or exploitation. WomenCentre in Yorkshire worked with young survivors, achieving a 45% improvement in scores related to ability to cope with challenges.

There when it matters

  • We fund crisis support for young people experiencing difficult circumstances and chaotic lives, including homelessness (564 grants), addiction (897), violence or abuse (657 grants) or crime (234).
  • Charities and community groups help them to stabilise their situation and make sense of their experiences. This includes making sure young people have somewhere safe to live. Llamau’s award-winning family mediation service has a success rate of 71% of young people returning home, saving the public purse £8 million on supported accommodation, while Amy’s Place provides a women-only recovery space, bridging the gap between women leaving addiction treatment services and finding independent accommodation.
  • And our VCS grantholders help to increase understanding of the risks young people face. Like the Contextual Safeguarding Network, which is helping to raise awareness of the risks of abuse outside the home: in schools, public spaces, peer groups and online. Starting as a pilot in London, their approach to safeguarding is now implemented in 20 areas across England and Wales, with 24 more in the early stages of taking part.
  • Working in a whole system partnership with authorities in Glasgow, Action for Children has achieved reductions in offending among 11-18 year olds who are at risk of, or already involved in, serious organised crime. Four-fifths have reduced the frequency or severity of their offending and they’ve supported a third (32%) into positive destinations. One who had committed almost 600 offences hasn’t reoffended since taking part. And Glasgow city council saved over £500,000 in costs by diverting just four high risk young people from secure care over a six-month period.
It’s about somebody taking a chance on you, no one has ever done that for me except for [my youth worker].
Participant, Youth in Focus
This is the happiest I have been in my entire life […] this is the only place I have ever felt at home, ever felt safe, like physically safe
Resident, Amy's Place

Making life easier

We also describe the support charities provide for young people and their families who are affected by ill health, from long-term health conditions to life-limiting and terminal illnesses.

Grantholders help to make their lives easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable. Like Dressability, a specialist clothing service in Swindon, which makes simple adaptations like removing excess fabric to prevent pressure sores for people who use wheelchairs, and adapting school uniforms to reduce sensory issues for children with autism.

My life is only just beginning. Without the project, I’d be doing nothing. Or I wouldn’t be alive. I thank them all, all the time.
Participant, Youth in Focus

Supporting good health

The report ends with a look at how VCS groups support young people to develop healthy habits and make informed decisions; skills that will help them to continue to thrive into adulthood. They also widen access to opportunities to stay fit and healthy through exercise, diet, and school holiday provision.