Youth work expanded with funding award

Published: Wednesday, 17 February 2021

A community organisation supporting children and young people between the ages of 8 and 18 has been awarded over £200,000 from the Government

to continue its work for a fourth year in some of the most deprived areas of Northampton.

The funding from the Home Office’s Trusted Relationships Fund, enables free2talk to run their ‘True Knowledge’ project in Bellinge, Blackthorn, Kings Heath, Spring Boroughs and Semilong.

The project offers a range of new and exciting experiences for young people in their communities, along with mentoring and goal setting sessions. Since October 2020, 336 sessions have been delivered to 62 vulnerable young people.

During the ongoing pandemic, Youth Workers from the organisation have interacted with 55 young people over 47 weeks, in covid-safe community settings such as at school gates and in parks, helping them to understand the importance of social distancing.

Some of these young people have gone on to become Young Leaders and support the development of digital youth work, offering gaming, a weekly live news stream and an online youth group. In January alone, over 800 young people engaged with this work.

Refurbished laptops donated to families by free2talk and the Borough Council, have allowed young people to participate in this digital youth work.

Jodie Low, Director of free2talk, said: “Although the need for social distancing makes our work very challenging, we have kept our projects open throughout the pandemic and adapted by increasing our digital offer.

“Consistency is key to maintaining the trusted relationships our youth workers build with young people, and this funding will allow us to continue our work and build upon the foundations we have laid over the past five years.”

The Young Leaders launched a project in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council’s Public Health team in November 2020, aimed at gaining an understanding of the support young people will need to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic. The project will include two youth led conferences, social media content development and the recruitment of Young Ambassadors to dispel the myths around Covid 19.

A new Forest School has also set up as part of the project, offering social development sessions and wellbeing groups in an outdoor setting.  

Councillor Anna King, the Borough Council’s Cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with free2talk, who have expanded this project year on year to engage with so many vulnerable young people in some of the borough’s most deprived areas.

“Although everyone is affected by the pandemic, we think young people may feel the impact hardest, being isolated from their friends and lacking the structured environment that schools provide.

“By positioning themselves within the communities they support, free2talk continue to make a positive difference to the wellbeing of young people.”

For further information about the True Knowledge project, or to refer a young person, please contact [email protected]