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Young people investment team update – Beginning to understand resilience

22 June 2012

By Reanna Vernon, 21

It’s been a busy time for the young people investment team, with many of us having  just completed weeks of exams and assignment deadlines. To add to our busy lives, on Friday 15 June, 11 of the team were in Birmingham to host a pre-launch conference of a major multi-million pound investment that BIG will announce next week. Keep your eyes on the media and the BIG website on Tuesday 26 June to find out what we have been doing!  We are really proud of this work and believe this Lottery investment will transform the lives of thousands of young people.

From Birmingham to London on Saturday 16 and our co-design  meeting was as lively and useful as ever.

The day started with updates from the BIG staff team, which was followed by a talk from Roger Catchpole, Training and Development Manager at YoungMinds. Roger was able to answer questions we had about resilience (the ability to overcome challenges faced in life), providing both academic and practical arguments for its importance to young people today.  

After a lunch break we split into two groups to have a deeper look at resilience and how we might focus on it in our investment proposal. The team was joined once again by Albert from BIG’s England Committee, who showed his support for the team and brought new insight to discussions. We had some useful discussions about  mental health and well being in young people. The discussions were lively, inspiring, critical and challenging and helped to create a strong foundation as we develop our investment proposal.

Hear from some of the young people about what we discussed.


View a transcript


View a transcript


View a transcript

We will next meet up in July to complete our investment blue-print, which we plan to present to BIG’s England Committee in the autumn.

As always, you can keep up to date by liking our Facebook page, following #BIGyp on Twitter or following the Big blog.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 July 2012 4:18 pm

    I am writing from Foundation 66, a charity working partly with young people who misuse drugs and/or alcohol, as well as young people who have been very affected by another family member misusing drugs or alcohol.

    A major funding scheme, focused on resilience of young people, sounds like an excellent and very exciting idea. However, we would like to qualify that a little.

    Firstly, some groups of young people are much more vulnerable than others and for this reason there is a case for prioritising them – especially given BIG’s focus on disadvantage. 60% of teenagers with an alcohol problem also have a mental health disorder (Dept for Children, Schools and Families, 2009). The issues of causation are complex, but the degree of psychological vulnerability and the need for greater resilience is obvious to professionals working with these young people. For example, a loss that might be a risk factor for depression in some young people might lead a young person with a drink problem to drink much more heavily and develop more severe depression, they are also more likely to damage key social relationships, lose their home, or experience other traumatic life changes. As well as being potentially a lot more hurt by events, the young people we see can have more “buttons to push” and those buttons are more easily pushed.

    If BIG agrees that vulnerable groups are worth addressing, then it must look at how they are addressed, which may have to be quite differently from young people in general. For example, the very interesting school-based projects focused on emotional resilience would not work for the young people we have seen whose chaotic lives involve poor attendance at school or college. Many extremely vulnerable young people need more effort to engage. This is often 1:1 work, offered via outreach because the young people would never come to an office. We also find it effective to offer introductory sessions in classes, hostels, etc which introduce a key subject – drinking, living with a parent who drinks, etc – and create a space where, perhaps for the first time, it becomes okay for the young person to discuss issues that may have seemed too painful, shameful, incomprehensible or hopeless to discuss before. Creating rapport quickly is hard, but critical.

    One last issue… If BIG wants to create psychological/life skills-type resilience for many such vulnerable young people, it needs to look at wrapping a degree of advice and key-working around it. We do offer workshops to some young people for life skills such as communication, managing anger, etc, so we can see the place of relatively “stand alone” work. However, young people – especially the most vulnerable – will learn more through a “drip, drip” approach, as we listen to and discuss their actual lives and issues and they slowly open up to more positive and skilful ways of thinking and acting. A large chunk of resilience is what psychologists can describe as “mastery over stressful events”. A little thought about the lives and “stressful events” of the most vulnerable individuals shows that mentoring, information and advice from a trusted source and 1:1 work on psychological / skills training are inseparable if the young person is to actually use and develop psychosocial skills and develop real resilience.

    I hope that helps.

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