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John Lyon’s Charity urges government to prioritise emotional wellbeing in young people post lockdown

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As we move into week 13 of lockdown a glimmer of normality has spread across the UK. Groups of six can meet in ‘bubbles’, more shops are due to open later this month and plans for pupils returning to school are being put in place. 

John Lyon’s Charity is calling on the Government to ensure funding support is in place for organisations that support mental health and wellbeing in young people, especially in anticipation of schools reopening across the UK in September.

During this economically challenging time many charitable organisations are struggling to stay afloat.  John Lyon’s Charity wants to avoid the withdrawal of this vital support for wellbeing when “normality” is resumed when they believe young people will need this support more than ever.

John Lyon’s Charity gives grants to young people up to the age of 25 and funds groups and organisations that focus on emotional wellbeing. Over the past 10 years, the Charity has seen a growth in the number of applications that fall under their Emotional Wellbeing Programme area and predicts a significant increase in applications due to the impact of the pandemic. Since 1991, the Charity has granted over £10million to the Emotional Wellbeing Programme, with a considerable spike in the last year alone (2019-2020) when £1.4million was awarded. There is no denying that there is a clear need for this type of funding, which is why there is huge concern around it.

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John Lyon’s Charity, CEO, Dr. Lynne Guyton says, “We believe it’s going to be a very long, difficult summer for children and young people.  That’s why we are committed to providing funding for a variety of projects and activities to support strong mental health.  Now, more than any other time for a generation, mental health in young people is vitally important. There has been a lot of support provided throughout lockdown, but my fear is what will happen post lockdown. The Charity has been working incredibly hard to ensure our groups that specifically focus on emotional wellbeing programmes are supported, in addition to supporting fun participatory holiday activities that provide stimulation and fosters friendships”.

Many of the groups the Charity funds have been incredibly efficient in transferring their resources online to ensure vulnerable young people are still supported. For example, The WISH Centre is a London based Charity that provides support for young people aged 10-25 who are at risk of self-harm and sexual exploitation.  It provides a mix of long-term and open-ended therapy, peer support groups, advocacy, out of hours support and now, due to lockdown, digital support. Director and Founder of The Wish Centre, Rowena Jaber says “for obvious reasons, many of our face to face services have gone digital. When lockdown happened, we knew we couldn’t simply shut up shop and leave vulnerable young people to fend for themselves. So, we made the decision to take our resources and support network online. Peer Support groups are being held at the same times using WhatsApp, one to one therapy is accessible via phone or video call and there is also the option for young people to put their sessions on hold until later in the year. We are doing all we can to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of young people is protected because familiarity and stability is extremely important”.

It’s charitable organisations like The Wish Centre that John Lyon’s Charity specifically funds as part of their Emotional Wellbeing Programme. The Grant-Giving Charity awarded The Wish Centre just shy of £30,000 to cover the costs of a full-time youth worker, peer mentors and training resources, as well as to contribute toward the digital costs to transfer working online due to Coronavirus. This grant was awarded via the London Community Response Fund, to which John Lyon’s Charity pledged £500k of emergency funding when lockdown was enforced, and charitable organisations were left under threat.

During and post lockdown it is vitally important for similar charitable organisations to remain open, funded and supported because if they don’t, the livelihood and emotional wellbeing in young people will be at risk.

To find out more information about John Lyon’s Charity, its Emotional Wellbeing Programme and the groups it supports, please click here www.jlc.london.

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