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Taking the Place2Be approach into youth clubs

Taking the Place2Be approach into youth clubs

Liz Bailey, Regional Director for Place2Be, reflects on the partnership between Place2Be and Onside Youth Zones over the past 18 months and working through a global pandemic.

Back in November 2019, we announced a new partnership with OnSide Youth Zones, funded by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal. Launching in Future Youth Zone, the partnership was a pilot to see how our in-school therapeutic services could be replicated in a youth club setting. It made Place2Be’s mental health services available for young people across Barking and Dagenham.

Of course, we didn’t know then that just a few months later, we would be hit by a global pandemic and many face-to-face services would have to be moved online. It’s undoubtedly been a challenging time for youth clubs and schools across the UK, but we’ve been blown away by the creativity and passion of the team at Future Youth Zone. They’ve done everything from at-home workouts to poetry and art challenges, from choreography to cooking!

We’ve also continued providing support from Place2Be at Future wherever possible. One young person we supported, Ana, said that before she came across Place2Be life was “really hard and quarantine didn’t make that any better.”

She added: “I heard there was a place to talk. I struggle with my mental health, family issues and self-confidence; so when I knew I had a chance to get better I asked for help. Something that made me start coming was realising I had to talk to someone… this was my chance to speak freely.”

Ana’s experience underlines the benefit of making mental health support easily accessible, particularly when there might be other barriers to accepting help. She explained in her own words:

At the start of the process, I felt like no one would understand the way I felt and felt like I was at a point that my mental health just couldn't get any better. When you struggle with mental health, it affects everything from simple things like getting out of bed, taking time for self-care or sleep become the hardest things to do. Ana

After a number of sessions with Place2Be’s Youth Counsellor, Ana’s wellbeing has noticeably improved: “Place2Be has helped me realise that even though this feeling feels 'weird' or 'unreal' it's normal to have your bad days… there are better days ahead. It has changed the way I cope with feelings that sometimes overpower the good days."

I think Place2Be is a great thing because our voices feel so small in a world so big. If I had to explain it, it's like the world is really loud, it talks over how you feel, it interrupts your peace of mind so when you go into a room with someone who finally focuses on just you... it feels like someone is listening to you, like finding your voice in the middle of the world’s messiness. Ana

As restrictions lift, we look forward to supporting more young people like Ana and helping them to find their voices in this messy world as she puts it. After everything they’ve been through, it couldn’t be more important.

Place2Be and OnSide Youth Zones have been supported by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal since November 2017. The Lord Mayor’s Appeal brings together charities, business and communities to tackle London's most pressing social issues.

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