Gloucestershire Funders’ Spotlight is a series aimed at raising awareness of some of the organisations we have helped to fund. Each week we speak with a representative and ask them questions about what it is that they do, what they have learned during the last few months, and how else they might be supported to ensure they can keep making a difference to lives in Gloucestershire. This week we spoke with Karl at Young Gloucestershire.
Q1: What does Young Gloucestershire do, where are you based and who do you work with?
Young Gloucestershire is a countywide charity with its base in central Gloucester. YG supports marginalised and vulnerable young people, aged 11-25 years old, who face complex challenges in their lives and we seek to engage some of the hardest-to-reach young people; those with chaotic home lives, care-leavers, academic underachievers, drug/alcohol addicts, young parents/carers, young offenders or those coping with a mental-health issue. They turn to us for help in finding practical ways to motivate themselves, to develop confidence and gain the transferable skills they need to find a job or a return to education.
Q2: How has Young Gloucestershire and the people you work alongside been affected over the last 3 months?
CV19 has been extremely challenging for young people already facing serious challenges. While the virus itself has had minimal effect, lockdown has proved extremely challenging especially in those who had poor mental-health anyway. During April and May we delivered nearly 200 counselling sessions via Zoom with general mental-health support provided to a further 116 young people. Our normal service also went online (Zoom and telephone) and we provided youth work support to over 350 young people during the same months. We also provided new services including care packages and activity packs to 577 vulnerable young people who for most, being locked in their homes was not the safest place to be. Those with abusive relationships or parents/carers having drug/alcohol problems chose to break guidelines and remain outside or spent time in friends’ houses. This meant that we had to undertake considerable outreach work (over 125 sessions) across Gloucestershire to educate and support, rather than criminalise, young people.
Q3: Have you learned anything or been surprised by anything during this time?
One surprise was that show-up rates were considerably higher for counselling – young people obviously prefer the more-remote approach and so we have developed our service moving to reflect this. Schooling has been particularly topical and we are particularly proud of our Transition Chat service working with young people in year 11 to make sure they make a positive destination in September.
Personally I’ve been encouraged by the numbers of young people who have been using the lockdown exercise allowance as this is an area that we have been considering for a number of years. We see many young people simply not fit for employment through a combination of a lack of skills, poor mental-health but also poor physical-health which in turn affects mental-health. We’ve been running online personal training sessions for small groups all via Zoom which has also proved popular.
Q4: How will the money from Gloucestershire Funders be used by Young Gloucestershire?
Gloucestershire Funders has enabled us to implement our Link Chat – a service which provides young people to have a daily check-in with a youth worker. This has proved to be a lifeline; to support young people’s mental health and ensure they are keeping safe. Funding also allowed us to provide care packages throughout lockdown including food, toiletries, resource packs and wellbeing resources while we ensured young people were safe, fed and have material to keep them well at home. Funding also allowed us to launch detached youth work in communities across Gloucestershire, a service which we intend to continue in the future.
Q5: Are you still fundraising? How can people support your organisation?
We lost overnight a significant amount of income (20-25%) when we had to close group-based payment by results services back in March as the pandemic hit. The focus of YG’s SMT therefore has been to apply for CV19 response pots to help recover the money we have lost and then apply for funding that allows us to meet the increased need in this current time. We are so grateful to the funders, like Gloucestershire Funders, who released funding promptly which allowed us to work with existing young people, but also to develop the new services to meet the increased need quickly. We still have a long way to go with the hole in our budget, but each week this improves ever so slightly. There is a fear of what a second spike would do to this hard-work as whilst we can see a light at the end of the tunnel now, another spike and further lockdown would put us back to square one! Donations from organisations, companies and individuals are all vital to help us support young people in Gloucestershire and the donate button on our homepage can be used for donations large and small.