Our strengths We have served young people in Southwark since 1979 and are well-established at our base near Elephant and Castle.
We have experienced and dedicated staff that reflect the diverse community
We work in partnership with statutory and voluntary services that enable us to access services for our clients and receive clients with a range of needs.
We are experienced at supporting young people with complex needs
We provide a holistic approach that helps prevent the escalation of these issues to a crisis situation.
We have our own mental health counselling service for fast-track referrals.
We are a voluntary agency and so more accessible for young people who do not engage well with statutory services.
Our approach – early intervention We are members of the national organisation Youth Access and apply a holistic model known as ‘Youth Information Advice Counselling and Support’ (YIACS) which combines universal and targeted services. In 2010 Youth Access published ‘A proven early intervention model, Youth Information, Advice and Guidance and Counselling Services’ showing evidence that:
- Half of all lifetime mental illness is present by age 14 contributing to economic and social costs of mental health problems totaling £105.2 billion in 2009/10.5
- Over a million 16-24 year olds fail to get the advice they need to resolve their social welfare problems each year, costing the exchequer an estimated £1bn each year
The need we serve Young people everywhere face a variety of difficulties, including a lack of affordable housing, unemployment in a time of uncertainty, and a lack of knowledge around matters of health, especially sexual health. These difficulties are compounded in areas such as Southwark, our home Borough. Southwark is one of the ten most deprived Boroughs in London, with a population density almost double that of London as a whole. Crime rates, unemployment rates and teenage pregnancy incidence are all above the London average. Forced marriage and gang violence are very real problems here. Around three-quarters of our counselling referrals alone are for anger management or depression. We also see survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, asylum seekers, and those questioning their sexuality in an unwelcoming home environment. Much of the poverty that was prevalent in Southwark when Faces in Focus was set up in the 1970s is still a problem today. Elephant and Castle is an area of multi-generational deprivation and poverty of ambition. We are known here as a trusted source of help and assistance, rather than as incomers who cannot understand our client’s needs. However, there is still so much more we would like to offer.
Increasing needs Since the start of the recession in 2008/09 the number of disadvantaged young people accessing our Information, Advice, Advocacy and Support Service has steadily increased. In the last financial year we supported 1529 young people – an increase of 20% for this period last year. The proportion presenting with complex needs has also increased.
These young people have interrelated social welfare, personal and practical issues to do with being bullied, homelessness, welfare benefits, debt, money management, witnessing/experiencing domestic abuse, gang related issues, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy. They lead chaotic lifestyles, resulting in depression, low self esteem and self confidence, family problems, stress and anger. They are excluded from school or not in education, employment or training (NEET), use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, are at risk of offending, are offenders or ex- offenders, in care or care leavers and are in gender based violence relationships. They do not trust statutory services, feel that they are not understood by them and feel let down, plus 16/17 year olds fall through the gaps between children’s and adult services. The changes to legal aid in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill will make it more difficult for the young vulnerable people we work with to get legal advice and representation in the courts, funded by legal aid, in areas like housing and welfare benefits law, which in turn will impact on their already complex needs.
According to the ACEVO Commission on Youth Unemployment, Southwark is a youth unemployment hotspot with 1 out of 4 young people being NEET.
- To make our services available to young people throughout South London
- To offer counselling as an outreach service at youth clubs and other settings where need is acute
- To offer information, advice and guidance as an outreach service at youth clubs and other settings where need is acute
- To offer groupwork sessions for young people on mental health issues including anger, self-esteem and stress
- To offer training to professionals in supporting young people with mental health issues