Meet Alex*. 17 years old and living in Cornwall, Alex found himself leaving school without sitting his GCSEs. School wasn’t a good place for him. He was dyslexic, dyspraxic, black and gay. He was chronically bullied. All this, on top of struggles in his home life, made him angry.
He came to Zebs youth club in Truro after being engaged through outreach work. He was NEET (not in education, employment or training), unable to access benefits and had recently been refused the opportunity of higher education because of his low literacy levels. He was battling anxiety and life had knocked his confidence and self worth. He looked to cannabis for an escape. But this only made things worse.
Through his involvement in Zebs, Alex has reshaped his future. One-to-one support has boosted his self-esteem. Counselling is helping him reduce his cannabis use. He has achieved the NVQ Level 1 in Customer Service and Employability, and Functional Skills in English and Maths. And now he dances – an interest he’s always had, but couldn’t find the confidence to pursue.
*names have been changed to protect individual’s identity.
Over the past year we have directly worked with over 2,380 young people like Alex. 1 in 15 of these have been tackling varying mental health challenges. Whatever the problem, whatever the solution; our youth clubs are a gateway for young people to get the help they need. An open door when so many others seem to be closed.
“Being part of a youth group saved my life.”
Playing music. Taking photos. Making films. Playing games. Hanging out. Zebs is a drop-in youth hub in Truro, where young people can be young.
It’s all about giving the young people who walk through the door the chance to try out new stuff, chat with different people, make friends and get support – with a dedicated and clued up youth work team always on hand.
Our regular information and support sessions nurture honest, frank, reassuring relationships that encourage young people to share what’s on their minds. By helping them to open up, we can help them open doors.
“Having a mental health problem can make you feel isolated and alone. But at Hear Our Voice you feel like you are part of something special and that there are people out there who do understand you. I have finally found my voice.”
Many young people who come to Zebs also get involved in Young People Cornwall’s other programmes, like Hear Our Voice – providing one-to-one and group support for those affected by mental health issues – and Heads Up – an interactive education initiative that makes people aware of the difficulties young people can face. These programmes can change lives; “Having a mental health problem can make you feel isolated and alone”, says one young person. “But at Hear Our Voice you feel like you are part of something special and that there are people out there who do understand you. I have finally found my voice.”
Help more young people in Cornwall like Alex find a better way forward.
Donate now to keep our youth club doors open.
If you’re a young person in Cornwall and you’re struggling with any issues we’ve covered in this post, we’re here to lend a hand, a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on. Just get in touch.