Placing Trust in the progress of youth

Jennifer Fairbanks, with (l-r) Rosie, three, Aaron and Lola Hunt, 12 months, has started an apprenticesip programme at Rotherham Hospital after getting help from the Prince's Trust. Picture: Andrew Roe
Jennifer Fairbanks, with (l-r) Rosie, three, Aaron and Lola Hunt, 12 months, has started an apprenticesip programme at Rotherham Hospital after getting help from the Prince's Trust. Picture: Andrew Roe
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Thousands of young people in Sheffield feel like prisoners in their own homes and are at risk of becoming socially isolated, a new report has warned.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, which gauges young people’s well being, has found that one in seven young people in the city often feel too anxious to leave the house – with the unemployed more at risk.

Jonathan Townsend, regional director for the North of England at The Prince's Trust

Jonathan Townsend, regional director for the North of England at The Prince's Trust

The alarming statistics reveal 30 per cent of 16 to 25-year-old’s in Sheffield feel down or depressed, on a constant or regular basis, and 23 per cent admit to ‘falling apart’ emotionally.

It also found that 27 per cent of said anxiety has stopped them looking after their health, 34 per cent say it has prevented them from eating properly and it has stopped 25 per cent from being able to find a job. More than a quarter report feeling scared about life in general.

The report is based on interviews with 2,265 16-to-25-year-olds across the UK – including 55 in Sheffield.

It also revealed 52 per cent of unemployed young people across the UK often feel anxious about everyday situations, 46 per cent avoid meeting new people and 39 per cent struggle to make eye contact.

Jonathan Townsend, regional director for the North of England at The Prince’s Trust, said: “Thousands of young people in Sheffield feel like prisoners in their own homes.

“Without the right support, these young people become socially isolated - struggling with day-to-day life and slipping further and further from the jobs market.

“At The Prince’s Trust, we help these young people re-build their confidence and take the first steps towards a job.

“Our programmes are proven to help even the most vulnerable young people find work and turn their lives around.”

The youth charity’s seventh annual Youth Index, which gauges young people’s well being across a range of areas from family life to physical health, shows how unemployed young people feel significantly less happy across all areas of their lives.

David Fass, chief executive of Macquarie Group, said: “Young people are our future and it is important that we invest in them and provide them with the tools they need to reach their full potential. The Prince’s Trust has an excellent track record of helping disadvantaged young people across the UK into jobs and we are proud to support their vital work.”

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of The Royal Society for Public Health said: “Mental health issues like anxiety and depression can have a devastating impact on young people’s lives, affecting their relationships, self-confidence and job prospects.

“We want to work with the public sector and charities like The Prince’s Trust to help young people get the support they need to overcome these issues and move forward with their lives.”

The Prince’s Trust provides a range of personal development and employability programmes and mentoring to help young people into jobs. Three in four young people supported by the charity move into work, education or training.

‘I can’t express how much of a positive impact it has had on my life’

Jennifer Fairbanks, aged 24, from Shirecliffe, was searching for jobs online when she stumbled across the Prince’s Trust ‘Get into Hospital Services’ course.

The day she was called to come to the open day was the first day she had been out of the house alone in almost a year.

Jennifer went to study film and photography at university at 18, despite being unsure it was the path she wanted to take.

She lasted six months before returning home to Todmorden, in West Yorkshire, and getting a bar job. Shortly after returning home, Jennifer moved to Sheffield and met her fiancé, Aaron Hunt.

The couple had a whirlwind romance, getting engaged after five months and soon after having their first daughter Rosie, now three.

Rosie’s birth was ‘pretty horrific, says Jennifer, who suffered pre-eclampsia and post-natal depression and she feels this is where her emotional instability started.

After two weeks in hospital, things didn’t get better, so the family moved back to Todmorden and Jennifer took her old job back at the pub.

But her mental health was spiralling out of control and she began to experience intrusive thoughts, chronic OCD and severe anxiety.

Things grew so bad that she decided to move back to Sheffield.

Jennifer said: “I suffered in complete silence. I was too scared to tell my other half how I was feeling, never mind family or friends.

“I thought that we would have our baby taken away and that I would be sectioned. I eventually sought help from a psychosis intervention team but I couldn’t get their full help because we had already decided to move back to Sheffield.”

Back in Sheffield, the couple struggled to make rent payments and were evicted. This was on top of Jennifer being off work sick, because of suicidal thoughts, and being a few months pregnant.

The family moved into temporary accommodation for six months and their second daughter Lola, now 11 months, was born by Caesarean section.

Jennifer’s time in hospital inspired her to start a new career path in healthcare.

She said: “I wanted to give back to the NHS. I want a patient to feel as cared for as I did. I want to make a massive positive impact in someone else’s life like we had in ours.

“If it wasn’t for the help of the staff from our temporary accommodation I seriously think that neither of us would be here today.”

After completing the four week Prince’s Trust course, Jennifer has now been accepted into a clinical healthcare assistant apprenticeship at Rotherham Hospital and dreams of becoming an occupational therapist.

She said: “I am so glad that I managed to complete The Prince’s Trust programme. It was only four weeks but by the end of it, I was like a different person. I had made friends for life with the other people on the course and I had a massive and much needed confidence boost.

“It was such a positive experience for me. I can’t express how much of a positive impact it has had on my life. Not only did I learn so many new and interesting things, I learned a lot about myself too. I realised that I was more than capable to start back at work after spending so much time off sick.

“I learned how to speak to people again after spending months hiding away from anyone else. Many of the other people on the course would tell you something similar too, most of us wanted to better ourselves which we did once we had completed it.”