Youth Concern supports vulnerable 13-25 year olds in Aylesbury Vale. As young people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Rothschild Foundation made an early commitment to support Youth Concern through the Covid-19 Support Fund.
From a lively and informal drop-in centre in central Aylesbury, Youth Concern has offered guidance and recreational activities to young people for many years. During the lockdowns and school closures imposed by the pandemic, young people found their support structures, connections with friends and routine disappeared overnight.
Youth Concern’s Hannah Asquith was appointed CEO in March 2020, and started to lead the organisation at an immensely challenging time. She worked closely with her team to carefully plan how regular services could be adapted and continue during social restrictions, and developed an online offering which would enable Youth Concern to stay connected to their young membership. She comments;
During the lockdowns and school closures imposed by the pandemic, young people found their support structures, connections with friends and routine disappeared overnight.
“Covid-19 made it more difficult for young people with emerging problems to receive support. Some young people have retreated, making it difficult for them to re-engage. Many are reporting increased levels of anxiety about going back into the world.”
Facing the challenge head on, Youth Concern conducted a survey of 290 young people living in Aylesbury Vale, hearing their needs and worries directly. This consultative and evidence-led approach is effective in developing a service which is ensured to meet the needs of beneficiaries. Youth Concern heard from respondents that:
- 66% needed more support for problems relating to school, education and general anxiety
- 63% turn to their parents or friends when looking for support (which suggests 27% do not feel comfortable turning to their parents or friends)
- Over 70% admitted they didn’t access pastoral care services
As a result, Youth Concern applied to the Rothschild Foundation to bolster their counselling service and employ two part-time, qualified counsellors for a six month period, allowing them to help all of the young people who had contacted them for support.
Hannah shares the story of one young woman:
“Lyn had contacted us for help, and after an initial assessment she was placed with a counsellor. Lyn has started a programme of open-ended person centred counselling to work through her depression and anxiety. She’s working at her own pace to explore issues around family relationships and social interactions.”
Youth Concern is better equipped to offer assistance to young people facing a wide range of difficulties to help them develop the emotional resilience to make informed choices and be able to live safe and fulfilling lives.
By December 2020, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Youth Concern were able to extend their support of young people and open supported accommodation with Covid-19 secure measures in Aylesbury town centre. Funded by a Rothschild Foundation Local and Community grant the previous year, the Next Step provides a safe place for 18-25 year olds to stay and offers intensive, tailored support to help them avoid longer-term homelessness. Here Youth Concern helps young people access benefits, specialist drug, alcohol and mental health support, advice on staying healthy, paying rent and debt management, family connections, applying to college, for voluntary roles and employment.
The holistic approach to support is of particular interest to the Rothschild Foundation as we develop a new strategy with focus on the resilience of the youth sector later this year.