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Calling all youth club leaders, youth workers, practitioners working with young people and managers

Date: Thursday 25th March Time: 1pm to 4pm

How do we tackle loneliness in young people and work with them to address it?

Led by the High Sheriff of West Sussex Dr Tim Fooks FRCGP, Adam Muirhead from the Trust for Developing Communities and our CEO Chris Cook we want to build on our understanding of how combating loneliness in young people can bring about change and be the best form of early intervention.

The pandemic has hit communities hard in many different ways. Loss of jobs. Increasing concerns about mental health. The growth in suicides and domestic violence. It is a difficult time for us all.

Last year Sussex Clubs for Young People supported the High Sheriff of West Sussex in a cross-county conference of 120 people from a range of organisations to think about Tackling Loneliness. Since that event groups have been collaborating and looking at ways they can combat loneliness for the elderly, for families, for young people and wrestling with rural isolation and the digital divide (see report here).

At Sussex Clubs for Young People we hold firmly to the view that without a high-quality, out of school, universal offer involving and designed by young people, parents and volunteers in their communities the opportunities for young people to find their own place, space and pace to develop are limited and curtailed. Without these spaces, without somewhere to belong, young people will feel loneliness and experience growing anxieties and mental health. We know that county lines and sexual exploitation exists where young and vulnerable are targeted to get them involved in criminality.

We want youth club leaders and youth workers, those directly working with young people, to join us at our pan-Sussex conference on Thursday 25th March from 1pm to 4pm as we explore together how we can emerge from lockdown and build a universal youth service which is a coalition of voluntary and community sector partners to support young people. If you have a case study or story you want to share about young people you are working with and how loneliness is affecting them and the support you have provided then please get in touch.

Why should we do this?

A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness published in October 2018, was the world’s first government strategy developed to tackle loneliness in England.

On 22nd January 2021 the Department for Culture, Media and Sport released its Loneliness Annual Report in which they focused their work on:

  1. Reducing Stigma by building a national conversation on loneliness
  2. Drive a lasting shift so that relationships and loneliness are considered in policy making
  3. Playing our part in improving the evidence base on loneliness.

Research by the Office of National Statistics shows that there is a connection between loneliness and those experiencing high levels of anxiety. Chronic loneliness affects people’s behaviour, increasing negative thoughts which makes it more difficult to engage and accept help when it is offered. The COOP Foundation produced the report ‘In this together’ last year in which they reviewed young people’s experiences of loneliness in the spring/summer of 2020 lockdown.

With the lockdown of schools and much of our normal social life young people are isolated from their friends and opportunities to meet freely with their peers. A growing demand for services such as CAMHS and early intervention against a background of reducing local authority budgets has led to the perfect storm of rising mental health concerns. Our partners such as Active Sussex through their own work know that being active is important for the physical and mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

The National Lottery’s Local Connections Fund (closed now until it reopens in the summer) aimed to help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities.

In rural communities social isolation is a ‘powder keg waiting to explode’.

We believe that a well-connected community with a wide-range of open access high quality clubs for young people with a mix of volunteers supported by paid staff is the best tool for tackling loneliness and bringing about lasting change.

Help us to build a universal youth service. A coalition of voluntary and community sector partners supporting young people.

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