Our sustainability stories

How Legacy Youth Zones have supported young people with their emotional wellbeing

Hi all, my name’s Barnabas Shelbourne and I have the privilege of being the CEO of Legacy Youth Zone in Croydon. Legal & General are one of our valued Founder Patrons and enable us to provide young people, aged 8 to 19 years olds (up to 25 with a disability), with somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to talk to, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year, when school’s closed, we’re open! I’ve been asked to write a blog for you and really appreciate the opportunity to tell you a little bit about what we do and how we support young people with their emotional wellbeing.

2 Feb 2021

The young people we support have had to face numerous hurdles this year, both mentally and physically. It’s no surprise that there’s been a soar in the deterioration of young people’s mental health!

In fact recent statistics indicate that 1 in 6 (16.0%) children and young people aged 5 to 16 years have been identified as having a mental health disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017 (Govt, 2020). Furthermore, during the pandemic, disadvantaged young people have experienced poorer mental health and wellbeing including anxiety, depression and loneliness (Govt 2020).

This is why everyone at Legacy has been working incredibly hard to adapt our services and be there for our young people despite the current restrictions. For some young people, it’s not just their own mental health that impacts them; it can also be members of their household. Fortunately there is support available for young people which we work hard to promote to make sure young people get the help they need.

Our Youth Workers are currently providing 121 support for young people that are known to us as being vulnerable or dealing with a mental health issue. Simply coming in and having a chat with a youth worker and engaging with a fun activity can help the young people we support to let go of the stressors of their everyday lives, and focus on something positive and meaningful, even just for a few hours.

Recently we’ve been working with a national organisation called Snow Camp who’ve been developing a free online counselling support service for young people, their campaign is called Stop.Breathe.Think. Another organization that provides a really accessible route to getting support is the Mix who provide a range of different accessible support services for young people.

Every Friday I send out an email to the team with my “quote of the week”. I find a quote about a topic, and then write a little bit about the quote and how it relates to the work we do at Legacy. Coincidently it fits quite well with what I’ve been asked to do with the blog regarding young people’s mental health, but can also relate to everyone else too, so I thought I would leave you with the quote of the week and my thoughts about it!

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Stephen R. Covey

If you know me, I like to talk! and sometimes I get so excited about what I’m talking about that I forget to listen and to stop talking! Listening is such an important skill to develop, and I agree with what the quote is encouraging us to do, which is about trying to understand others. An attribute of a good Youth Worker is to be an effective listener who wants to understand what a young person’s challenges are, and occasionally asking questions to better understand. When someone listens and hears the person who is sharing, and shows genuine care for them, it builds trust which results in the development of a positive relationship and thus amazing youth work!

Finally, there is still some stigma around mental health, which I experienced when I was growing up, but if you have children or young people that you know, who might be going through a difficult time at the moment, that’s okay, but do encourage them to talk about it, as the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved! If necessary, please do give them the details of the services I’ve mentioned or support them to access it. And if you’re near Legacy Youth Zone in Croydon, get in touch with us and we’ll see if we can book your child into a 121 session.

Thanks all and stay safe, Barnabas

Sara Heald, Head of CSR at Legal & General said:

"Legal & General are proud to support Legacy Youth Zone’s, who have worked so hard to ensure that they can be there and provide an amazing service, despite the restrictions in place, to support young people many of whom are vulnerable or dealing with mental health issues"