New Reports Raise Issue of Young People and Loneliness

Two recent reports have highlighted the growing issue of concern around young people and loneliness.

One report from the Office for National Statistics found that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups. It found that almost 10% of people aged 16-24 were "always or often" lonely - the highest proportion of any age group.

This was more than three times higher than people aged 65 and over.

Loneliness was linked to a lack of permanence or sense of belonging - such as young renters who felt few connections to their local community.

There were other themes that emerged - illness and unemployment made loneliness much more likely. Carers were more vulnerable to loneliness and to be cut off from friends.

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A second report, this one by Childline, saw a 14% rise in the number of children contacting the charity about loneliness, with nearly 80% of these sessions going to girls. Some said watching their friends socialise without them on social media made them feel increasingly isolated.

Cal Strode, of the Mental Health Foundation, said that loneliness among young people could be driven by social media and the "digital world" - "Teens can have thousands of friends online and yet feel unsupported and isolated. Technology, including social media, could be exacerbating social isolation".

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The YCW's current National Campaign is focusing on issues around mental health and young people and our recent SEE Stage Survey found that loneliness was repeatedly raised as a factor in poor mental health.

In response to this, our upcoming Adult Companion and Chaplain Training Day will have a guest speaker talking about loneliness and how our faith can help us respond to it.

YCW National Team Meet With New Bishop of Lancaster

Following his installation as Bishop of Lancaster earlier this year, the YCW National Team, as well as the local YCW/IMPACT Group in Preston, were invited to meet with Bishop Paul Swarbrick to discuss our purpose, presence and mission across Lancaster. 

The YCW has a large presence in the Diocese thanks to the excellent work of local volunteers, such as Terry Mattinson and Anna Gregson. It was explained how the YCW method of SEE, JUDGE and ACT developed the leadership abilities of the young people, who have consistently used it to take authentic Christian action in service of others.

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Bishop Swarbrick was told about their specific work on issues around mental health, bullying, the environment and international development but importantly, how this develops the confidence and faith of the young people.

Following these discussions, there was a positive discussion about the future development of the YCW across wider parts of the Diocese and how we can work together in partnership to deliver this.

In response to the meeting, Marc Besford (National Training and Development Worker) said: "This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the positive impact of the YCW on young people and their local schools and parishes. We are now looking at ways in which we can help deliver more for other young people in the Diocese and are planning on visiting again soon." 


Visit to Loreto Impact Group

During a recent visit to Loreto Catholic Grammar School for Girls, National Training and Development Worker, Marc Besford, met with 4 young people who are now part of the new Impact group there.

As part of their discussions they talked about the current YCW National Campaign on young people and mental health - MIND! The Gap - and the new Group were keen to help build upon some of the early work organised by the National Campaign Team. 

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They are looking at doing their own mental health pupil survey, in order to understand the reality of young people at the school and are also helping their Chaplain, Sue Perkins, with peer-to-peer mentoring.

As well as this, the Group have exciting plans to continue supporting the schools charities and are looking to do assemblies for their peers to raise issues and awareness.

Marc Besford congratulated the new Group on their formation and said: "Loreto have had a strong YCW/IMPACT Group for many years now and it is fantastic to see another group of young leaders emerging. I just want to thank them for all they are doing and encourage them to keep working hard to be the difference!"

YCW HQ Hosts Catalonia Chaplain

Last month the YCW HQ had a visit from Fr Pepe Rodado a YCW Chaplain in Catalonia. 

Fr Rodado was visiting the country for a conference on "worker priests", a missionary initiative which sees priests take up work in a trade or profession - historically in an industrial workplace - to experience the everyday life of the working class.

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Whilst here, the National Team took the opportunity to discuss and share good practice with Fr Rodado and find out what issues are important to young people in Catalonia.

Currently, the Catalonian YCW are doing a project on immigration and racism over a two year period.

Fr John Marsland, National Chaplain of the YCW, thanked Fr Rodado for taking the time to visit the HQ, saying: "It is always nice to be able to meet up and discuss our movement with our international brothers and sisters. We are always really inspired by their work. I look forward to hearing more about their projects in future." 

JUDGE Resource for "MIND! The Gap" Campaign Launched

Following on from our highly successful SEE stage survey, which gathered over 1000 responses from young people, we have put together a new resource to dig more deeply into the JUDGE aspects of the YCW method. 

Click on the image below to download the resource.

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This initial resource will begin the exploration of what the survey responses make our groups think about the state of mental health amongst young people.


Of 1093 young people who responded:

42.5% said they had experienced a mental health issue personally.

61.8% said they had experienced a mental health issue with their friends, family or colleagues.

53.2% said they felt listened to when they spoke about their mental health issues.

31.1% of respondents, when asked to explain their understanding of mental health, described it in purely negative terms.

53.6% of those who had direct/indirect experience of mental health issues referenced "anxiety"; 45.7% "depression"; 17.3%"pressure/stress".

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It will also involve looking at the reality of what affects mental health - for good or bad. For example, good things included: Socialising, Family/Friends, Music, Encouragement and bad factors were: Stress, Exams, Loneliness, Stigma, Self-Doubt.

Finally, by judging the results through our faith, Groups will develop their understanding of how we can have a genuine Christian response to those who need our support and help.

Kate Wilkinson, National President of the YCW, said: "We were incredibly pleased with the number of responses we go to our survey, it showed us just how important this campaign is to young people. Therefore, we wanted to use these findings to inform this current JUDGE stage and really inspire our Groups to dig even deeper into the topic." 

Stockton Visit By National Team

Last month the National Team visited Stockton in the North East to talk with Fr Jeff Dodds about setting up some new groups in the 3 parishes that he is responsible for.

The meeting occurred following the fantastic example of the Billingham YCW Group and their reputation for engaging young people to See, Judge and Act as Christian leaders.

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Fr Dodds has invited the National Team to come back up soon to talk at Masses in the Parishes and begin the training of adult companions who will take up the work of setting the groups up. 

Marc Besford, National Training and Development Worker, welcomed the chance to see more groups being set up, saying: "It was great to see the word spreading about the impact of the YCW on young people and their local communities. We are really keen to come back to Stockton and help in any way we can to get even more groups set up."