We are Bridges Project, a local youth charity operating in Midlothian and East Lothian. We want to launch our ReCovEry project, which will support disadvantaged young people aged 12-25 to cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We work with young people with various types of disadvantage. Most of them are socially isolated and disengaged from mainstream services, feel marginalised by and from peer groups and friendship networks and struggle to connect with important people in their lives. The majority have had challenging childhood experiences which still affect them.
Most of the young people we work with have missed out on opportunities to develop the necessary interpersonal, life, educational and employability skills to participate fully in society. Around 25% of beneficiaries also have additional support needs, primarily on the autism spectrum.
Covid-19 has heightened the challenges all these vulnerable young people are facing and they are finding it increasingly hard to manage. The pandemic has also brought about new challenges for them. Many are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and ReCovEry will seek to address all issues related to the pandemic that the young people we work with are facing.
What we will do
ReCovEry will support vulnerable young people aged 12-25 in Midlothian and East Lothian to cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will see the appointment of a Support Worker, who would work with at least 30 young people over a year. She will provide a wide range of Covid-19 specific support depending on each young person’s needs, including:
-Development and implementation of coping strategies
-Understanding of the situation and its implication for them and their families
-Establishment of routines and activities to maintain positive mental health
-Dealing with being in the house with family in challenging, chaotic and unhealthy environments
-Identification and treatment of loved ones who develop symptoms
-Reassurance of future plans still taking place
-Dealing with fears of slipping back into old habits such as social anxiety
-Accessing Foodbank parcels
-Delivery of shopping and essential items to young people and their families
-Completing Universal Credit applications
-Employability support and signposting
-Arranging prescriptions for medication
The Support Worker will also distribute external support materials from partners which can provide vital physical and mental health support during and in the aftermath of Covid-19. This can range from practical information on how to reduce the risk of developing Covid-19 symptoms to activities which can reduce negative health impacts of social isolation. In addition, staff will research, develop and create their own materials which will be sent to young people and posted on our social media pages. Themes will include how to deal with anxiety, coping calendars with suggested daily tasks, promoting positive mental health and managing stress.
The Support Worker will be employed for a year in order to provide holistic support during and in the aftermath of the pandemic. The support will be flexible and open-ended; sessions can take place as often and for as long as each young person needs and desires. Our flexible approach to project delivery also means that support can easily be delivered both face-to-face and remotely over the phone and online. This will depend on the Government guidelines on social distancing at each given time and on the preferences of each young person.
The difference we will make
ReCovEry will help at least 30 vulnerable young people to:
- increase their resilience in dealing with the emotional pressures caused by Covid-19
- realise their pre Covid-19 plans
- overcome financial and practical challenges caused by Covid-19
Why ReCovEry is needed
The need for ReCovEry stems from a massive demand for the services of Bridges Project and the specific needs of vulnerable young people during the pandemic. All our services are constantly oversubscribed, with an average of 20 young people on the waiting list to access each service. This demonstrates a clear need for this support in the local communities we work in. Nevertheless, a substantial amount of our funding has run out since the start of the crisis, leaving young people at risk of not receiving the support they so sorely need. This discontinuation of funding also means that we do not have the staff capacity to continue to support many of the young people who received support due to these funds, which means that they risk losing all the progress they have made over the past months. We are therefore in urgent need of funding for more services in order not to have a significant negative impact on a large number of vulnerable young people in East Lothian and Midlothian.
The need for ReCovEry has also been identified by young people themselves, both through informal conversations and online surveys staff have sent to young people on how they feel we can support them during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their feedback has shown that they are worried about the effects the significant reduction in our services and the subsequent cease of support for many young people will have on their wellbeing. They have therefore requested additional emotional support services to be in place as soon as possible.
Bridges Project hopes that ReCovEry can take us a step further to meeting all the demand for our services among vulnerable young people in East Lothian and Midlothian. In the long term, we would like to increase our staff capacity to a level where we do not require waiting lists for any of our services. This will enable us to help every young person in need.
Founded in 1984, Bridges Project is an independent, local charity which works with around 500 vulnerable, disengaged, isolated and disadvantaged young people aged 12 to 25 in East Lothian and Midlothian each year to help them manage the transition from adolescence to young adulthood and life beyond school. Our purpose is to provide better opportunities for young people to make a safe transition to adult responsibilities, including independent living, employment, further education and training.
The one-to-one and group work services at Bridges Project are flexible and tailored to meet the needs and ambitions of young people. We believe that young people should determine the shape of their futures and participate fully in the social, economic, political and cultural life of their communities. Bridges Project assists young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. Three practice teams deliver our work; the Skills for Life Team, the Transitions Team and the Employability Team. They all provide bespoke, person-centred support packages which enable young people to fulfill their potential and go on to lead successful lives.
Bridges Project is in a unique place to meet the needs of the disadvantaged and vulnerable young people in our area. No other organisations in East Lothian or Midlothian offer the same type of holistic, open-ended and tailored youth support services as the services provided by Bridges Project. We also have a wide network of close partnerships with a large number of local and national partners who we cooperate with to improve the outcomes for young people. ReCovEry will be able to draw on all the above to effectively support young people through the Covid-19 pandemic.
How the money will be spent
How you can help
Every penny we raise will help us support disadvantaged young people to cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are able to, please donate what you can. If you're unable to help financially, you can still help by sharing our project with your friends using the social media icons on this page.
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