Having written to our supporters last year from the depths of lockdown, this year I am pleased to write again to convey my pride in how Young Bristol has responded and continues to respond to the challenges faced by Bristol’s vulnerable children and young people. I can’t thank all Young Bristol supporters enough, last year the appeal enabled us to provide vital support to children and young people at a time when they needed us most.
Today, young people in Bristol need your support more than ever
The pandemic has had multiple effects on the lives of young people. For a large part of this year, young people haven’t been able socialise with friends, access a safe place, positive activities or receive support in person. They have faced employment issues and income loss (many young people work in the hospitality sector), loss of everyday structure and routine, disruptions to education, issues with familial relations and isolation and loneliness.
There is also the long-term toll on their mental health, employment, disposable income and education. Recent research has shown an increase in depressive and anxious symptoms in young people as a result of Covid-19.
Worryingly, children from low-income households do not appear to show a post lockdown mental health recovery. New labour market statistics have sadly revealed that almost two thirds of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic are under age 25, and nearly half a million fewer young people are in work than a year ago (ONS- March 2021). Being unemployed at a young age can have long-lasting, negative effects in terms of career paths and future earnings.
Can you help provide the activities across Bristol that young people so desperately need?
We know the preventative value and long-term impact of Young Bristol’s work and its role in supporting young people’s wellbeing, helping them to build the skills and resilience needed for life and employment. Young people need our support at this time more than ever.
Outdoor Activities: Through Young Bristol’s outdoor activities, young people boost their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy through successfully facing up to the challenges our activities provide, overcoming fears and apprehensions. In 2021, 249 outdoor activity sessions delivered at our Outdoor Activity Centres in and around Bristol.
Creative Arts Programmes: our creative projects create a sense of achievement and control over negative thoughts and stress. In 2021, 176 young people have taken part in our Creative Programme, successfully achieving over 70 Arts Award Qualifications and UAS certificates.
Sports Programmes: Sport and exercise positively impacts levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mental health. It also releases endorphins, the body’s natural “happy chemicals.” In addition, levels of the stress hormone cortisol go down when a young person exercises. In 2021, 42 young people have been supported through our Positive Changes programme which uses sports and creative activities to tackle anti-social behaviour in disadvantaged communities.
Youth Clubs: provide social support, a safe space and engaging activities which help young people to cope with stress and anxiety. Young people also learn vital skills for life and employment. In 2021, 754 young people were supported at 462 face-to-face and online sessions across our Community Youth Clubs, providing engaging sports, creative and discussion-based activities, and a chance to socialise with friends and receive support
Outdoor Employment Programme: Provides tailored support to address the root causes of unemployment, building confidence, self-esteem and vital skills and experience in a safe, stable environment. Each year, around 30 young people aged 16-25 have the opportunity to achieve up to 13 national qualifications and receive structured training and support to become fully qualified outdoor activity instructors. In 2021 80% of young people on our Outdoor Employment Programme progressed into employment or further training.
You can make all the difference to Bristol’s young people by supporting this appeal
Since re-opening, all our youth club sessions for children and young people have been over-subscribed demonstrating a clear need and demand for our services. However, increased competition for funding continues to be a major challenge for Young Bristol. This could put pressure on our future services which could hit those children and young people most in need. As a charity, Young Bristol rely on our local supporters and face to face community fundraising events to provide much needed and relied upon income so that we can keep doing our important work.
Looking to the future, we want to build on what we have learnt from the last year and to invest in our people, facilities and partnerships to meet the increasing demand for our support. We need to upgrade our youth centres so that they are appealing to young people, we need more sports and creative activities and equipment, our youth leaders need up-to-date training and we need better technology for young people to use in the clubs.
We can only do this with your help and support. Your support today will mean that more children and young people have the opportunity to access our services, enjoy creative, sports and educational activities with their friends and gain advice and support from caring and trusted youth workers.
We are currently reviewing Young Bristol’s strategy and we remain committed to providing quality youth work in our local communities.
Please give what you can to help us meet the costs of our work and continue to be there for children and young people now and in the future. By supporting Young Bristol, you can be assured that your money will be put to work immediately within Bristol. Gifts of any size will make a huge difference to the lives of children in Bristol. Thank you for taking the time and caring enough to donate. We are hugely grateful for your support.
Jonathan Webb MB ChB FRCS (Orth)