Joe Clay is co-ordinator of our UK projects in Manchester and Yorkshire and knows just how hard the last year has been for the young people we support. Watch this interview to hear him explain the issues faced by vulnerable young people and how the pandemic has made already difficult situations almost unbearable.
As the world starts to open up, and restrictions change once again, we know many of the issues that they faced may be magnified. Some have found escape from bullies, gangs and problems while they couldn’t mix with them – but are now finding it harder to hide from those looking to exploit them.
Others that suffer with anxiety are being pushed back into social situations they found hard at the same time as still worrying about their own, and the global situation.
The jobs market is going to be tough for some time and this will undoubtedly impact many of the families we work with – increasing tensions and stress at home. Young people in key year groups that face exam and qualification chaos will be unsure what their future holds for several months yet even though they may be finishing school and left to their own devices for many weeks. The temptation to take risks and get involved in dangerous behaviours will be higher than ever for bored teenagers so our teams are braced for a spike in referrals.
Our teams have seen an increase in the severity of new cases – from suicide attempts to assaults and more than any other problem, young people are reporting issues surrounding their mental health. Not only that families are at breaking point, months of restrictions, confusion trying to enforce new rules has left parents turning to our project workers for support more often than ever.
As public transport recommences, we continue to take referrals from British Transport Police who find children at risk across the rail network. Our teams make contact and offer support to young people and we will continue to do so as the real impact of coronavirus will continue to be felt, most of all by the most vulnerable, for many years to come.
Whatever it takes, and however we need to adapt to new approaches, we have the same commitment and will do whatever it takes to make to safeguard and support the young people across the UK who need us now and as we recover from coronavirus.
The demand on our services is already increasing as children and families face additional pressures and burdens. Our project teams will always keep doing whatever they can but as a charity we are already facing the prospect of operating with a reduced income.
Your continued support at the moment is not only vitally important it is also hugely appreciated.