Isle of Wight Youth Trust

The Isle of Wight Youth Trust is a youth-led mental health and wellbeing charity, supporting children and young people aged 5 -25 on the Isle of Wight. Our vision is for an Island where children and young people’s mental health needs are well recognised and supported. We have committed to do this by making support easier to access, and helping to build resilience so that young people are more able to face life’s challenges. Services and projects are inclusive and include therapeutic support (counselling, CBT, art and play therapy), and wellbeing activities (including workshops, support planning and mindfulness).

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

Each year the Isle of Wight Youth Trust supports the mental health of children, young people and their families. As well as delivering 1 to 1 counselling and wellbeing sessions we also deliver group programmes on anxiety, self harm and tics for young people and for parents/carers.

What are your current priorities?

‘Changing the Odds’, the title of our strategy is our commitment to children, young people and those who look after and care for them, that the deteriorating mental health of our local children and young people is not acceptable – and we will do everything in our power to make it better. Whilst we cannot change the wider world we live in, we can make a positive difference to our local Island environment, delivering the best services possible to create lasting change. We want to ensure that every young Islander who needs support, can access help easily and in a way that is meaningful for them to build resilience and aid recovery.

This is not without its challenges. Funding to deliver services has not kept pace with demand meaning longer waiting times for support. As a result, in 2023, we are starting to trial ways to extend our offer and introduce innovative new services that start to build wellbeing and resilience until therapeutic services become available. For some young people that might mean access to groupwork, which can build social and emotional connections so that, for some, wellbeing support will be enough to deliver resilience without further therapeutic work being necessary. For others, therapeutic support is the first step to understand and make sense of the feelings they have, with wellbeing activity offered as a ‘step down’ to maintain support for longer, once therapy ends.

We can only change the odds if we respond differently and prevent poor mental health from reoccurring, but if it does, that the challenges being faced are done with better understanding of what’s happening and a toolbox of skills and techniques to reduce severity and promote recovery more quickly.

Another focus for us this year has been to develop plans to expand Youth Voice (a group of volunteers aged 12-25, representing the voices of young people on the Isle of Wight) and enable increased participation.

What challenges are you currently facing?

Along with many charities we face an ever increasing waiting list for our services whilst the fundraising landscape is facing significant changes. Grant applications to trusts and foundations are increasing so the percentage of successful applications drafted inevitably decreases. The cost of living crisis has resulted in fewer people committing to make donations. Contract values are not keeping pace with inflation and are therefore a reduction in funds to deliver services.

Living and working on an Island, also presents unique challenges, as well as opportunities, including geographical isolation and recruitment of staff.