VCS support for young people who’ve missed out
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit young people hard. Many have foregone face-to-face education for substantial periods, others have faced the challenge of entering the labour market at this difficult time. They’ve missed out on important milestones and some of the simpler joys of growing up.
But what about young people who were already missing out?
Those who saw school or college as a source of stability and calm in contrast to chaotic home lives. Young people struggling with addiction or mental health problems. And those who were avoiding gangs or criminal behaviour, despite pressure from their peers or others. These young people already needed an extra helping hand, a listening ear, or support to catch up on the things they’ve missed.
Not every young person can get this help at home, from friends or family. When this happens, youth workers, mentors, and other youth sector professionals are ready to step in. These dedicated staff and volunteers often support and protect young people by listening, making sense of their experiences, and helping them find strength and a positive pathway for the future.
Project 1325, run by WomenCentre in Kirklees and Calderdale, is a great example of the difference this support can make. It supported 169 young women who had experienced trauma. Over three-quarters of participants completed the programme, resulting in a 45% improvement in their ability to cope with challenges. One explained what the key worker’s support had meant to her: “[They] have helped me more than any other service with my mental health […] I now know other ways to manage my mental health and no longer self-harm.”
A chance to thrive
We’ve given out over 14,600 National Lottery and government grants that make a positive difference to young people over the last five years, worth more than £1.2 billion. In a new series of reports, we’re looking back at the difference this investment has made, by giving young people chances they might otherwise have missed.
The first report is about giving young people a chance to thrive. It shows how the voluntary and community sector (VCS), working with and alongside local authorities and statutory services, helps young people to live healthy, fulfilling lives, regardless of their circumstances.
And it’s full of positives. Stories of charities and community groups who go the extra mile for young people when they need it. Evidence of their impact both on the young people they support and on the systems around them, as they work to share their learning and change the way things are done.
There from the beginning
Their work starts early, with preventive measures to keep young people safe and ensure they have a stable and supportive network around them. This includes helping young people, their parents and the wider community to recognise and respond to risk factors such as signs of abuse or grooming, or emerging mental health issues.
Supporting health and wellbeing
Even before the pandemic, with the stress and anxiety it caused for many, young people told us that mental wellbeing was one of their key concerns. VCS organisations are working to help young people to talk about and manage their mental health. They’re also helping to make young people’s mental health everybody’s business, by providing training for families, youth workers and professionals on what to look for and what to do.
HeadStart, our largest investment in young people’s mental health, has already trained over 246,500 professionals and volunteers, while also supporting over 201,880 young people.
Charities we fund also support young people to develop healthy habits and make informed decisions: skills that will help them to continue to physically thrive into adulthood. This includes opportunities to stay fit and healthy through exercise, diet, and school holiday provision.
There when it matters
Young people who are experiencing difficult circumstances including homelessness, violence, and abuse, are some of the most hard-hit by the pandemic. Charities and community groups continue to support young people who are in crisis. 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.
VCS providers are also there for young people who are affected by ill health. They help make young patients’ lives easier, more comfortable and enjoyable through non-medical support, from information and advice to specialist clothing and equipment. Like Dressability in Swindon, which makes simple adaptations to clothes, like removing excess fabric to prevent pressure sores for people who use wheelchairs.
Find out more
You can learn more by reading A Chance to Thrive: the difference we make for young people. And watch out for the next reports in the series, focussing on the following themes:
A chance to be part of something: how the VCS makes sure young people have things to do and places to go.
A chance to make a difference and be heard: how young people get involved in their communities, and are representing their peers on the issues that matter to them.
A chance to learn and to work: opportunities to learn skills to keep young people active at home and in the community, as well as for the world of work.
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