An Edmonton charity is helping young people speak up about the challenges they face, writes Alice Martin
Two thirds of young people believe loneliness is a problem for their age group, while autistic people are four times more likely to be lonely.
Loneliness can mean different things to different people, but generally it’s seen as a mismatch between the relationships that we have and what we would like and want. It is a pervasive, consistent feeling of disconnection from those around us, a sense of exclusion and unhappiness with our relationships.
This is compounded by the fact that young people, particularly from low income groups, often feel less comfortable asking for help. For young people with special educational needs, this feeling of disconnection and aloneness is felt even more strongly.
Youth loneliness, characterised by feeling different or not fitting in, has multiple consequential effects, including physical and mental health challenges and, at its extreme, suicidal thoughts and feelings.
The most relevant impact, specifically in Enfield in light of the serious youth violence in Enfield, is the increased risk of getting involved in potential gang activities. Gangs encourage a false sense of having ‘friends’, further exacerbating the health and social costs for young people and our community.
In the long-term, over the period of a person’s life, loneliness “has been linked to an increased risk of early death and carries a similar mortality risk to obesity” according to a recent report by the Samaritans.
Local charity Every Parent and Child recognises these specific challenges – particularly for young people with special educational needs and/or a disability. We embrace a person-centred approach, which enables people to plan their own futures to get the services they need.
Every Parent and Child also runs a young people’s steering group on the last Wednesday of each month, the content of which is driven by the requests of the young people present. This forum provides a safe space for young people with special education needs to speak up about challenges that they are experiencing, and provides a sense of community.
If you know someone whose child (aged between 15 and 25 years old) would benefit from participating and receiving assistance to make friends and engage with their peers, please let them know that this free support is available locally.
Every Parent and Child’s young people’s steering group takes place on the last Wednesday of the month, 4pm-6pm, at Community House, 311 Fore Street, Edmonton N9 0PZ.
Call 020 8373 6273
Email [email protected]