Cost of living crisis is impacting upon children in Blackburn, charity report warns
Young people in Blackburn, who were already living in poverty, are experiencing an increase in mental health, family and neglect issues as a result of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, according to our nominated charity Blackburn Youth Zone (BYZ) and Youth Zone Darwen.
“We are still tackling the lasting damage of the pandemic, yet now also face a new challenge: the cost of living crisis,” states the Patron’s report for Q2 2022. “During this period, our safeguarding concerns have increased by 52% on the previous year. Recent safeguard reports for September reflect a 304% increase, a concerning by-product of the combined disadvantage of already exciting poverty and the cost of living crisis.
“Mental health, family environment, and neglect concerns have already significantly increased, and we expect more as parents/carers become less able to feed, cloth and keep children warm.”
“Of these, mental health, family environment, and neglect concerns have already significantly increased, and we expect more as parents/carers become less able to feed, cloth and keep children warm. Throughout September alone, we referred 22 young people to specialist agencies for further support – a 46% increase from the previous year.”
Tackling economic inequality
BYZ with Youth Zone Darwen is a youth hub that aims to change the prospects offered to young people in the area. It’s governed by members of the local authority and business community, who volunteer their time to support the Senior Management Team, which is chaired by former MP Jack Straw. It celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.
“Thank goodness for these youth hubs,” said Joanne Kimber, Granby’s Managing Director. “Our home town of Blackburn is a deprived area, where families struggle at the best of times, never mind during a cost of living crisis. They step into a gap in services for children and young people and make a difference. They’re needed now more than ever.”
What happens at BYZ and Youth Zone Darwen?
More than we can include here! We’ve created some summaries of some of the stories in BYZ’s latest report.
1. Anniversary of aspirations, skills and employment hub.
BYZ and Youth Zone Darwen celebrated the one-year anniversary of their aspirations, skills and employment hub. Throughout the year, a team of employability coaches and health and wellbeing workers engaged with 502 young adults aged 16-25. They provided wrap-around support on health and wellbeing, housing, finance, skills and employment.
Young people were referred to the service from partners including the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), Newground, More Positive Together, New Directions and other health and well-being, training and education providers.
BYZ and Youth Zone Darwen take an activity-based approach to engagement and this played an integral role in the successful outcomes for local young people using the aspirations, skills and employment hub. In its first year, to August 2022, the initiative supported:
- 31 young people into education
- 226 young adults into training
- 156 young adults into employment
Many positive mental and physical health outcomes were also experienced by the young people who took part.
“The Youth Hub tour opened my eyes and made me realise my potential; utilising skills I believed I never had has motivated me to push myself further and try new things.”
2. Emotional Health & Wellbeing Consultations
Another of BYZ and Darwen Youth Zone’s highlights that captured our imagination were their Emotional Health & Wellbeing Consultations. From July to September, local young people and parents participated in focus groups and surveys about the emotional health and well-being needs of young people.
In all, 224 young people and 56 parents took part. Some of our findings include:
- 55% of young people have concerns around their emotional health and wellbeing. Many said they struggle with managing emotions, behaviour and family relationships.
- Darwen’s data highlighted the high need for support – 67% of young people have concerns for their emotional health and wellbeing, with recurring issues of anxiety, behaviour, nonattendance at school, drugs and alcohol abuse, fighting and aggression.
- 66% of young people said they would feel most comfortable accessing support at Youth Zone; 49% from family; 46% from friends.
- Young people also said they would benefit from 1-2-1 mentoring sessions, group workshops, and positive activities to support them with their concerns.
This data is now being used to further develop emotional health and well-being support that better meets the needs of local young people.
“Darwen’s data highlighted the high need for support – 67% of young people have concerns for their emotional health and wellbeing, with recurring issues of anxiety, behaviour, nonattendance at school, drugs and alcohol abuse, fighting and aggression.”
3. Youth Zone Darwen’s expansion
Youth Zone Darwen has now established 7-day provision, including centre-based sessions and detached and outreach.
- Darwen attendance since opening: 15,002
- Darwen’s attendance this quarter: 3431
- Number of active members this quarter: 431
In Q2, they launched a dedicated well-being space, with a large-screen TV and comfortable seating for informal education sessions. It can also be used as a chill-out zone. Key workers are now running nail salon training. This creates a safe space where young girls and women can learn skills within the beauty industry and have issue-based discussions with youth workers.
4. Men’s mental health sessions
Youth sessions have included discussions around different aspects of men’s health, including fitness, mindfulness, how to manage emotions better and potentially damaging portrayals of men in magazines.
The young men engaged in these sessions have shown awareness and understanding of the pressures they face. They talked through their challenges and struggles and designed toolkits to support themselves. Key workers noticed that talking about cultural differences within this space opened up discussions about what is expected from their family and cultural communities.
Become a BYZ patron
Granby became a patron of BYZ (and the more recent Darwen Youth Zone) in 2019. As well as becoming a patron via your Lancashire business, there are many other ways you can support the youth hub, from volunteering to fundraising.