Grantee Spotlight - Youth Concern
08 August 2023
“What was the highlight of your summer holiday last year, Zak?” asked Mel, one of Youth Concern’s youth workers of a regular visitor to our Drop-in Centre. Zak answered immediately: “going to the supermarket on Wednesday afternoons. It was a family outing. I loved being with everyone – and usually we bought a box of ice creams for afterwards.”
These are the sort of humbling conversations our youth workers, project workers, counsellors and volunteers have regularly. Youth Concern is what’s called an open access service; we welcome all 13-25 year olds with a connection to Aylesbury Vale, Bucks, but specialise in helping young people who face additional challenges.
In the last nine months, there has been a 156% increase in the numbers of 13-25 year olds turning to Youth Concern for support with food poverty, money management, strained relationships, housing, substance misuse, poor mental and sexual health, domestic and sexual abuse. Not only are the numbers of young people increasing, so is what we call the ‘engagement rate’, the percentage of those young people who ask for advice, help or guidance (rather than just coming for the ‘fun stuff’ – pool, table tennis, music studio). Engagement is up from 40% October 2022 to 80% last month.
We wouldn’t expect all our young people – on average, 102 every month – to be jetting off on holiday, but we are saddened by the increasing numbers for whom a trip to the supermarket / park / skate park / our Drop-in Centre is the highlight of their summer. This summer, Youth Concern’s focus will be keeping our food bank stocked, assessing referrals to our counselling service as quickly as possible, and placing insecurely housed young people through our emergency or medium term accommodation.
Our longer term focus is on growing our counselling offer (able to counsel 50 young people at a time with current provision, we’ve run at capacity for 7 months now) and on finding a bigger Drop-in Centre. We’ve outgrown our current location on Whitehill Lane, Aylesbury. In short, our priority is to be here, when young people need us most, to help Aylesbury Vale’s disadvantaged 13-25 year olds live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.