Many of the young people LifeLine work with have been deeply affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – or trauma. A growing body of research has identified the harmful effects that such experiences occurring during childhood, or teenage years (for example among others, exposure to domestic violence, or substance abuse or household mental illness) have on lifetime health. Individuals who have ACEs also tend to have more physical and mental health issues as adults than those who don’t and also tend to have a shorter life expectancy*.
A friend of mine recently commented that for some young people, 'the edge' is very close. Her and her husband have prioritised family life. They place a high value on having fun together, and talking together as a family has been something they have tried to cultivate.
When one of their children came back from the first term at university and described some of the things that were going on, they were able to support and point them in the right direction. This child (no longer a child!) is making positive choices about the future - career, relationships and lifestyle. 'The edge' is quite a long way off.
"At the age of 23 I quit full time youth work. I was burnt out and decided to pursue my degree training and get a job in business.
"During the previous three years, along with a team of volunteers, I'd had great fun working with young people. In the course of developing them to be leaders, my creative skills had blossomed and we'd taken the young people on various local, national and international peer leadership programmes. However, fun as it was, I had become frustrated with my team and peers because (I felt) they didn’t do things as well as me. Frustration caused me to think that I was the solution. A very arrogant position which caused me to burn out and eventually quit.
"Eventually I got a job in South Kensington which required lots of commuter time.
"My mentor bought me the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham. As I read, I started to see that my peers were not, in fact ‘useless’ but that they had different strengths to me. I realised that while there were certain skills I was strong in, there were other skills my peers would be strong in. The way to get the best out of them would be to allow each to function in their area of strength.
According to the charity Our Time, the cost of non-intervention for children who are affected by mental health issues is estimated to be a staggering £17 BILLION per year.
Furthermore, research indicates that children living with a parent with mental illness will themselves experience some degree of mental ill-health, unless they get some early support.
As we approach our 20 year anniversary next year, we are inspired to reflect on the legacy that we have left thus far and to think about our trajectory for the next 20 years. How will our actions of today result in a positive impact in the future? By the end of this year alone we will have brought over £2.3m into the voluntary sector in our area. Over the past 19 it's been an astounding £54.5m. We can confidently say that we are an established, mature VCSE organisation, proficient at delivering contracts and running a business.
As the new year is well under way, we ask that you join us in calling young people to 'be the change they wish to see'.
'Deji is dead. He was stabbed, I don't understand... Why?' Chilling words from the mother of a former LifeLine School student, killed in the middle of the day, in broad daylight, on a residential street in south London. He will never have the opportunity to fulfil the dreams he had discussed with his mentor when he left LifeLine school with a 100% attendance record in 2012. All sorts of questions fill our minds: 'How on earth are his family coping with this dreadful news? What went wrong? What can we do to prevent this happening to other students?'
On the 22nd September LifeLine delivered a series of workshops on knife crime to students in a Dagenham school.
Although the school had registered 15 year-11 students for one of the workshops, it had to be cancelled, as only 12 were in attendance. One student was recovering in hospital having been stabbed the previous week and two others had been arrested by police investigating the killing of 15-year-old Jordan Douherty, the youngest person to be killed by knife crime in London this year.
With 'loneliness’ at an all-time high the question LifeLine are asking is: How do we ensure that it’s not just houses that are built, and services that are offered, but we also build community and a sense of belonging?
The new school year has started and across the UK teachers are starting to feed the minds of another year's cohort of the young people who are curious and eager to learn, with a vision for their future, but what about those young people who do not share the same enthusiasm for learning, those who already seem to be on a path to a future where things aren’t good? Where is the provision for the most vulnerable, those who lack positive influences or relationships, and are in danger of dropping out of education?
At our recent graduation event, one parent said “When he was at school, my son was never allowed to go on a trip, but SW!TCH Expeditions has taken him on an adventure of a lifetime”. On the 27th June, SW!TCH Expeditions returned from a ten-day trip to Sierra Leone which was the culmination of a two-year programme of full-time alternative provision. "This trip exceeded all our expectations" reflects Nathan Singleton, LifeLine Projects CEO. "For a start, I got to do some touristy things for the first time in ten years of visiting!". Sierra Leone was a huge opportunity for personal breakthrough in the students.
Social media: Foe or friend to young people? A year ago the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement produced #StatusofMind - a report that examined both the negative and positive effects of social media on young people's mental health. YouTube was found to have the most positive and Instagram the most negative impact on young people's mental health. The report's recommendations focused on increased education in cyber safety and providing more help to protect the mental well-being of young people, for example by providing social media training for youth workers.