Drop-in sessions help young people challenged by depression

Drop-in sessions help young people challenged by depression

Grant funding from the Evelyn Trust has supported the set up of weekly dedicated drop-in sessions for young people facing new or established mental illness.

Being unemployed, on a very low income, or homeless is a huge challenge at any age, but perhaps young people suffer the most, especially if they are living in residential care or have parents who can’t give them the help they need. These difficulties can lead to mental health issues and a downward spiral of low self-esteem and loss of confidence. This year, the Cambridgeshire charity Young People March, noticed that more and more young people aged 16 to 25 were attending their centre with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or alcohol and drug abuse. They decided to take action, bidding for grant funding from the Evelyn Trust to set up weekly dedicated drop-in sessions for young people facing new, or established, mental illness.

With funding in place, the project has been running in the town of March since January 2015 and the sessions have been accessed by young people already using the centre, plus others referred by local residential homes, the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service and Cambridgeshire County Council’s youth service.  The sessions have focused on boosting morale and motivation; practical skills such as cooking; and preparation for employment including job searching, CV writing and interview skills.

“We have really tried to tailor the support to the young people who have got involved, so we do a lot of signposting to services, such as sexual health, alcohol abuse, volunteering - keeping the service as flexible and individual as possible. The drop-in has evaluated very well and we’ve even been able to offer employment to one young person who has had mental health issues and been helped by the project,” explains Sarah Brown, Centre Manager at Young People March.

Most of the individuals involved are young men: all are from areas of deprivation in the town, many from families facing complex issues and 60% are classed as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).

One young man who came along to the drop-in sessions described his life to the team:

“I am in a whirlpool going round in circles as I have no money, no job, I’m bored so I drink, I’m arguing at home so will soon have no home, I’m depressed and don’t care, I have no grades, my friends are all the same and I just keep doing the same thing day in day out, round and round.”

Following regular attendance at the sessions, the team reports that he now takes a more positive approach. He tried DIY sessions and found he enjoyed it; he has also started volunteering and is looking into college courses.  

“These young people may have struggled in school, have very little support at home and come to the centre with a need for maybe just basic life skills, a chance to try something new, receive some encouragement, meet someone who understands their issues. Soon most gain the confidence to develop their skills and break the cycle of a lack of opportunity and boredom which has had serious impact on their emotional wellbeing,” adds Sarah.

Young People March is a small local organisation that provides a youth centre seven days a week to young people aged 7 to 25. It receives very little local authority funding and the Evelyn Trust has really been able to make a difference by funding a new project that otherwise would not have been possible. 


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