17th Sep '20

CEO's Thoughts (August / September newsletter)

On the 30th July, The Children’s Society produced a report on the effects of COVID-19 on the lives of young people. The report found that 1 in 5 young people aged 10 to 17 were unhappy with their lives. This figure is shocking but not surprising as we have ourselves witnessed an alarming downward trend in young people’s happiness and emotional wellbeing. We have seen a marked decline in young people’s perception of their health and wellbeing since 2009 and this is highlighted in the Government’s own publication ‘State of the Nation 2019: Children and Young People’s Wellbeing'.

The report acknowledges: “Young people similarly reported high levels of support from their family and happiness with their health, but less satisfaction with their leisure time. Happiness with health and leisure time was lower both in young people aged 20-24 compared to 16-19 year olds, and UK-wide data suggests happiness with health decreased between 2009-10 and 2013-14.”

And in a compendium of factsheets, ‘International Comparisons of Health and Wellbeing’ produced by the Department of Health: “The UK reported below average on self-reported health for young people ranking 20th out of 27 EU countries.”

So what does all of this tell us? I am not a scientist or a public health expert, but we have seen a decade of cuts and 20 years plus of performance management; we count and measure every child by a test, a grade or a result. We have closed down everything young people used to have whilst investing in treatments, interventions and short-term one-off programmes. 

Berkshire Youth has this year been around for a mere 80 years, investing in youth to build for the future. We continue to do this and finally, after 10 hard years of debating, promises and let downs, we have finally got a building for young people in the centre of Newbury – the Waterside. Now we face the challenge of raising the final refurbishment funds and ways to support the revenue costs.

The Waterside is tired and, after years of being let down and run-down, Berkshire Youth has the fantastic opportunity to offer life back to the Riverside Youth Centre, to provide a place to go and things to do for young people in the area. The Waterside has seen many youth workers, with backgrounds in climbing and exploring, drama and dance, music, counselling, advice and guidance, but what it has always been is a place for young people. In previous years, the centre has thrived through dance music, Northern Soul, punk disco and Irish dancing, but it should be a place of safety, a place where young people can go, a place to get involved and a place to help with the transition to adulthood with the skills and confidence to be independent, resilient and courageous. 

We are looking to work with the local community to get the Waterside up and running again as quickly as possible. Please keep an eye on our social media and let us know if you are able to help.