Supporting young people in these unprecedented times

September 17, 2021

By Kirsty Campbell, Programmes Manager

I recently attended a webinar which presented findings from the Zoe Project, run by King’s College London. The project, which has been collecting data from over 1 million people since the first lockdown in March 2020, looks at a range of issues, including mental health, and is one of the largest studies of its kind.

It identified that young people’s mental health has been particularly impacted by the pandemic, in part due to the disruption to their education and employment, and the effect this has had on their view of the future. Many young people were also struggling with mental health before the coronavirus pandemic, and at SCF we were already aware – from some of the organisations that we fund who support children and young people – that the problem was growing. Feedback from our grant-making has continued to show us just how important our voluntary sector is in supporting young people in many different ways, and it also shows us what young people can give back.

Perhaps in a less direct way, our grants to individuals programmes also support young people’s mental health by helping them access services, employment, education or experiences, or funding something which will make life a bit easier or more enjoyable. It is also a way of showing young people they are valued and worth investing in. As one Youth Offending Team member put it: “A grant would give the message that organisations are willing to support people who wish to make positive changes and move forward in their life.”

Our Eagle House Trust Fund supports young people who have experienced time in care, many having traumatic and unstable childhoods.

Included in one application was a video, made by a young care leaver who continues to cope with mental health problems, but had been supported to find her voice through poetry. In the video she reads her poem against a backdrop of changing images, all of which she created. Her video really touched me, and I have yet to come across anything else that so vividly explains how anxiety and depression can impact someone’s life. Her creativity is astounding, and yet her leaving care worker says she can’t see it.

Horseshoes and Handprints, a fund transferred to us earlier this year, helps with the cost of equine therapy, and although I love hearing applicants’ stories, I regretfully know, as with all our grant programmes, we can never help everyone.The courage of Mary’s parents to fundraise and set up the Mary’s Beat fund after the death of their daughter is truly inspiring. It always brightens my day to know how a grant from Mary’s Beat helps people with a physical and/or learning disability, many of whom are children and young people, to access a music or outdoor activity they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Most recently the photo Harrison’s parents sent of him on his new, specially modified trike [pictured], now able to join in with the family cycle rises, makes me smile. 

The most recent addition to our grants to individuals programmes, the South West Youth Enterprise and South West Youth Training Funds, awarded 14 Training and Employment Support Grants and four Enterprise Grants in the first round, thanks to the generosity of a donor who wants to support young people. I have been so impressed by the determination and creativity of these young entrepreneurs and really look forward to seeing how they and their businesses progress.

Having experienced my own mental health difficulties, and tried to support my children through theirs, to be honest, things have sometimes looked bleak. But the chance to help a young person have a brighter future, even in a small way, with a grant, is so rewarding. I appreciate this wouldn’t be possible without the generosity and forward thinking of our donors, and fund holders, the support of the dedicated public and voluntary sector workers, and of course the young people themselves! I’m really proud to be able to say SCF’s grants to individuals programmes are growing and hope this continues so that we can support even more young people in the years to come. Their stories are truly inspirational.

And do watch the video – you may just be as blown away as I was!

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