The past couple of weeks have probably been the most challenging yet inspiring in my time as CEO of Youth Leads UK. We’ve seen our income drop off a cliff, had to pause all of our activities and make difficult decisions including furloughing staff. I’ve also seen some incredible action from our young people making a difference in their communities, generosity from our funders and everybody coming together (albeit 2 metres apart!).
My focus has very much been on making sure that Youth Leads UK still exists once things start getting back to normal and coronavirus starts to become a distant memory. I realise that I’m in a very lucky position because I’m not the CEO of an organisation that makes sure our citizens are fed and housed – we’re not on the front line. My heart goes out to all of those on every single front line from the NHS and our emergency services to our social care workers and every charity up and down our island.
Young people have told us that they are facing increased mental health and wellbeing concerns alongside increased loneliness, financial instability and many are feeling overwhelmed.
Now that we’re not going to run out of money in a matter of days, the focus of our entire team is now on how we respond to the concerns of young people – who will be among the hardest hit groups according to the IFS. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be focusing on the following:
Information, Advice and Guidance
With our partners in the NHS and Government, we’ll be establishing an online resource hub for young people to access information, advice and guidance on improving their mental health and wellbeing, financial security, signposting of services that help those who may be at risk of abuse and anything else that young people tell us that they may need.
Positive Activities for Young People
We’ll be establishing digital writing workshops together with our industry partners where young people can join online conferences. Excitingly, we’ll be launching a competition for contributions to the next edition of Xplode Magazine with hints and tips online for young people to create the best creative content that we’ll publish online and in-print. Alongside the magazine competition, we’ll be launching a whole suite of activities related to increasing employability skills.
Youth-Led Public Health Campaigns
In our experience, young people are incredibly receptive to other young people and we’ll be kickstarting a youth-led public health campaign, closely guided by Public Health England, sharing the key health messages so that we can all stay healthy, happy and safe.
I always say that in everything we do, we need to be true to our mission. We believe in youth-led action and I’m proud to say that my team of Trustees, staff and volunteers (all under the age of 25) have been working incredibly hard to get all of this off the ground and I want to thank them.
We know we can’t do this without your support and because of our financial situation, we’re appealing for donations to help safeguard our work in the future and add a bit of stability to our organisation. You can find out how to donate on our Support page here.
Better times are ahead and for now, we’ll be doing everything we can to support young people.
We stand ready to help fuel the Nation’s recovery in the months to come.Saeed Atcha MBE DL, CEO, Youth Leads UK