More help for all ages, going forward

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

Young people are having it tough right now and need our support more than ever before.

Mental health among young people is suffering as unprecedented pressures are heaped upon them at an age when they are ill-equipped to cope.

The last couple of years have been hard on everyone because of COVID, but for children and young people, in particular, the changes to their lives in their formative years are likely to be long lasting

Under fives have been deprived of social skills normally learned through play and education at nursery, and even language development has suffered as a result and it is predicted that recovery will take years.

Children with special educational needs and those from low-income households (families earning less than £16,000 per year) continue to have higher rates of mental health issues than children without special educational needs and children from higher-income households. In the Bay, that is significant.

Older children have suffered stress and anxiety due to being stuck at home and away from their school friends at a time when they were meant to be relatively footloose and carefree as they also developed their independence.

Fortunately, many organisations out there, not least in the voluntary and charitable sector, are watching out for the signs and doing a great deal of work behind the scenes to support young people.

The Torbay Youth Trust (TYT) does terrific work across the sector. Established one month before the first lockdown in February 2020, it had to hit the ground running to ensure it could support the wellbeing of children and young people across the area.

Crucially, TYT’s youth practitioners have been working alongside children, young people, and families within their communities, helping to explore strengths, unpick challenges and discover ways to lead fulfilling lives.

The last two years have made it especially hard, but throughout, they have been working to enable children and young people to develop their voice, influence and place in society and to reach their full potential. No mean feat when all traditional means of face-to-face delivery are closed to you.

Against all odds, the young people TYT worked with helped decide a set of values they have all agreed to live by:

Transparent: A belief in openness making decisions with young people not for young people.

Radical: Fighting for young people’s rights, for fairness and equality of opportunity

Understanding: Listening, not judging and understanding that life is not always easy

Supportive: TYT has pledged to be welcoming, approachable and always there, speaking up for young people when it thinks they are getting a rough deal and has promised to help young people get greater control of their lives

Together: One big community that, along with TYT, decides things together. Standing united.

Never has an organisation like the Torbay Youth Trust been more needed. For years, we have chiselled away at youth services while maintaining a steady stream of criticism of young people.

They are just one of the fabulous organisations out there that are looking out for all our futures at a time when young people are growing disillusioned and angry over a whole range of issues be it Brexit, climate change or more recently war in Europe.

So many things have impacted us all, including children and young people, and unless we all step up and help each other, regardless of age, we will face even bigger problems in the future.

Imagine This, a group of around 50 children’s and young people’s organisations are also working with the fall-out of lockdowns as are admirable individual organisations here in the Bay like Sound Communities, the YMCA and Play Torbay.

As Ageing Well Torbay comes to an end, we at the Torbay Community Development Trust are moving away from working exclusively with over 50-year-olds and refocussing our efforts on people of every age in the area, recognising that we all need to work with and alongside each other.

We all have a mountain to climb. The next few months and years are going to be tough, and we need to recognise that it is going to be tough for everyone regardless of age. Let’s keep that in mind and be kinder to and more considerate of each other.