The Duke of Sussex visited the YMCA South Ealing to meet some of the young residents who live at the centre, some of the team that look after their residents’ mental wellbeing, and a number of organisations who are all working to change the conversation on mental health for young people in the UK.
YMCA is the largest provider of safe, supported accommodation for young people in England and Wales. In total, they offer more than 9,100 beds each night, giving people somewhere to stay both in emergencies, in hostels and in supported longer-term accommodation. Through their local association network we also provide mental health services to 17,000 young people each year through a mix of knowledge and awareness workshops, family mediation and therapeutic services.
The centre we visited has 150 residents in long-term supported accommodation. Many of these people have lived through traumatic experiences and work with the Mental Health Champions at the YMCA to support their wellbeing.
One of the Mental Health champions he met was Sophia, who we were lucky enough to spend some time with and talk to her about her experiences. When Sophia was 12, she left school to become a young carer for her mother and grandmother. Tragically, both passed away when she was still just a teenager, and her mental health suffered as a result. She then found YMCA and has gone from strength to strength – working on their Young Carers programme and using everything she’s been through to make a real and positive difference to other young people’s lives.
During his visit, The Duke learned more about how the YMCA is providing vital support to these young people and others in the area. He met some of the residents; some of the people who are involved in the YMCA’s Mental Health Champions programme; as well as the people behind the ‘I am whole’ campaign, run by the NHS and YMCA.
The challenges young people are facing are complicated, numerous and constantly evolving, and there are many organisations in the UK doing fantastic work to address each issue. Today, we’ve brought them all together to meet with The Duke of Sussex and discuss the current climate of support for mental health problems and the personal and social issues that are often the underlying cause.
Suzanne Jacob OBE, Chief Executive of Safe Lives said: “Mental health in young people is multi-faceted, and we need to understand all the challenges a young person may face. That is why it is so brilliant to see the Duke of Sussex meet a range of charities today, to discuss how we help young people in a way that sees them as whole people, not single issues to be solved. We are honoured to be around that table and look forward to working closely with Heads Together and The Royal Foundation to ensure an understanding of domestic abuse is at the heart of this work”
Organisations involved in the roundtable meeting include: