Bedford Giving research finds mental health, online bullying and things to do “massive challenges” for young people

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Bedford Giving Listening and Responding to our Community Needs research
Image: Bedford Giving

Bedford Giving, the movement committed to increasing opportunities for young people in Bedford, has published new research which highlights mental health, online bullying and not enough things to do in the real world as the biggest challenges facing young people across the Borough.

The report, Listening and Responding to our Community Needs, found these “massive challenges” after expert community researchers, Kaizen, spoke to more than 500 local people, including 200 young people, who took part in the research anonymously.

The full list of challenges had five that stood out above the rest

  • mental health
  • bad experiences online
  • not enough things to do that are free
  • peer pressure and bullying
  • crime/personal safety

A lack of positive role models was also highlighted.

Among the feedback from young people were comments such as, “A lot of young people are struggling with mental health after the pandemic, there’s too much pressure.”

Most young people also said they had had too few opportunities to share their views before and took the opportunity of this research to share ideas about what would make a difference in their lives.

This led to over half of the young people taking part in the research to call for more vocational support, including more opportunities to work, and find apprenticeships and work placements.

“For some of us, there’s going to be limited opportunities, so anything is a plus,” said one, echoing other comments received.

Life skills

Many others highlighted a need for life skills support, especially on ‘adult’ issues such as finances and taxes as well as developing skills in topics such as anger management, drugs, gangs and crime; career advice and mentoring; and funding for study.

Young people expressed a wish for more safe spaces, as well as more things to do in Bedford that were free, otherwise they “end up on the street.”

Among all those spoken to, the group most commonly highlighted as needing more support were children and young people.

This “eye-opening” research inspired the new Bedford Giving movement to set up its first projects to seek to transform the lives of children and young people in the borough, focusing on mentoring, work experience and younger children.

Bedford Giving Chair Kevin Bolt explained, “This eye-opening research really helped us hear from a cross-section of people in Bedford, particularly young people.

“The people and organisations involved in Bedford Giving could see that there was more we could all do to improve the lives of children and young people in the borough and that there was a lot of goodwill and energy across our community to help.

“We believe that everyone in Bedford has something to give, whether it’s time, skills, money or – in this case – their first-hand knowledge about community needs.

“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone, who gave their time and shared their voices, and we hope this research will help inspire others to get involved and give”.

Collaboration

Bedford Giving is a collaboration of eight founding partners which aims to mobilise the whole community to get involved, delivering new initiatives and bringing people together.

The first three Bedford Giving programmes include a Parent Panel, giving parents of young children a voice, a career mentoring scheme to help 13 to 15-year-olds raise their aspirations, and a project to help young people access in-person work experience who might otherwise miss out.

Kevin added: “Bedford Giving will be following up later in the year, offering young people further support in other areas highlighted in the report, and seeing what else we can do to help younger children whose voices were less heard in this research.“

To read the research report or find out more about Bedford Giving visit bedfordgiving.org.uk/our-research

Bedford Giving is the charity partner of the Bedford Independent