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“There’s more to life than current pressures” – Being a young person in Harrogate

Teenage years. Often labelled as awkward and slightly dysfunctional. You’re treated differently; you’re not quite an adult but you’re definitely not a child anymore. Pressures start with school, revision, homework, exams….

That’s not even to mention relationship issues, underage drinking, peer pressure, parties, puberty, social media and mental health. The list is endless.

Teenagehood? Perhaps it should be renamed teenage-should. Young people are often swamped by a constant instructions of ‘dos and don’ts’ that life throws at them. There’s a need to fit in and it’s hard to know how.

With the use of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, this ongoing pressure continues outside of the classroom.

A recent enquiry led by MPs and top children’s charities, revealed the addictive nature of social media. One in ten (9%) young people surveyed admitted to logging on after midnight every night and one young person said it was “almost like a drug”. Young people expressed that they feel “judged and inadequate if they didn’t have enough likes or followers.”

The enquiry also noted that young people who use social media a lot of the time are more likely to have ‘low wellbeing and symptoms of anxiety and depression.’

In fact, according to YoungMinds, 1 in 5 young adults and 1 in 10 children (that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom) have a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Rob is a youth leader and a local secondary school teacher from Harrogate. He said:

There is definitely an increase in exam stress and pressure to do well. This pressure often has a negative impact on social development.

And if schoolwork isn’t hard enough, he added: “Outside of the classroom, everything is focussed on phones, especially Snapchat. This has an adverse affect on teenagers’ perceptions on not only themselves but also the world around them.”

In a town like Harrogate, there’s not a lot for young people to do.

They can often get stuck in the ‘routine of life’ of school, homework, tea, social media, bed. Many young people don’t know how to talk about their problems and may isolate themselves or get stuck in a rut.

It is estimated that in the Harrogate and Rural District, there are 4645 children and young people between the age of 5 and 19 with a mental disorder. (Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group, 2015).

Rob sees young people struggling with society’s burdens everyday. He said: “I’d like to tell teenagers to remember that there is more to life than their current pressures and that no one should face issues alone. There’s always someone to talk to and the more we talk about it, the more these issues can be tackled together.”

The Hub soon hopes to open its doors on an evening once a week to provide pastoral care and mentoring support to young people. We want to show love and care to those who are struggling at school, facing challenges at home, or suffering from a severe loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.

 ‘Young people are the hope for the future in the making. They need to be shown that they matter, that they are valued’, says Jo-Ann Hughes, Hub Executive Director. ‘They need positive role models who demonstrate how to develop healthy attitudes and caring relationships. All too common now is the issue of self-harm and anxiety. Our children need to know who to trust, where to turn for healthy advice and reassurance. This is why we would like to open our doors to teenagers for safe mentoring at the Harrogate Hub.’

Could you help us provide support for young people?

We are looking for youth groups who want to give some of their time and creativity to fundraise for the Hub’s work with vulnerable young people. Through partnering with us, local young people will be helping to support their peers. Together we can see lives transformed across the community.

If you would be interested in fundraising for the work of the Harrogate Hub, would like to give on a monthly basis, or have experience in working with young people and would like to volunteer, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and find out about your heart for young people in Harrogate.

And if you have any further thoughts on the kinds of challenges facing teenagers in our local area, please do comment or engage with us on social media. We want to raise awareness of the hidden needs in our town to build a stronger, healthier community, where no one has to suffer in silence.

You can join the discussion on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Written by Rachel Williams

Edited by Ella Green

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Christmas angels fly far and wide!

Our knitted angels have been causing a bit of a stir in Harrogate!

If you haven’t already seen or heard about our knitted angels, then do drop by and have a look at our beautiful window display. You can also take an angel home with you, or you could give one to someone as a present this Christmas.

Our Knit and Natter group, along with other knitters around Harrogate (and beyond!) have knitted 100s of these angels, each with a little message from the Hub, to spread hope and love this Christmas. You can read more about the project here.

Lots of passers-by have been standing and staring at the Hub window! And since we’ve started giving out the angels, we’ve heard all sorts of stories, and met people from all over the place.

We’ve had visitors from:

  • the local area – Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, Spofforth, Bradford and Leeds
  • Newcastle, Northumberland, Cambridge, Durham, Manchester.
  • Scotland and Wales
  • Germany, Spain, the Netherlands
  • And even New Zealand!!!
People have been taking angels for all sorts of reasons this Christmas.

We’ve heard stories of joy and sadness. One visitor told us they’d lost an angel from their Church knitted nativity scene, and so we provided them with a new one! Another person came in to collect an angel for a relative, who’d recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They wanted to give them a message of hope and love.

Another visitor wanted to take an angel so they could start a project at their church. And others have come in to take away angels as gifts for their children.

It’s also been wonderful to see people’s generosity. Many visitors have been giving us donations for their angels, which is helping us raise money for our work.

You can watch a video and read an article about our angels project over at the Harrogate Advertiser website. They came to visit us when we first completed our window and have helped us raise awareness of our work.

If you know someone who might be feeling lonely or sad, or struggling in some way this Christmas, why not drop into the Hub and pick up an angel for them? We want everyone in Harrogate to know they are loved and not alone; to know there is somewhere to turn when life becomes a struggle. 

Sending you all Christmas greetings from the Harrogate Hub!

 

Written by Ella Green

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Loneliness: the big health risk and unspoken issue in Harrogate

It’s hard to believe that people could ever feel lonely in England’s ex-happiest place to live.

Unfortunately, it’s a sad truth that often gets forgotten about in Harrogate’s daily hustle-bustle, thriving businesses and stream of tearooms and bars. Our busy social scene can masquerade the worrying reality that there are lots of lonely people in our town.

In fact, three quarters of people in Yorkshire and the Humber say that they have suffered with loneliness, according to recent research by the Yorkshire Post in partnership with the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Here at Harrogate Hub, we aim to combat these issues by reaching out to our community, because no-one in our town should be lonely, isolated or unsupported.

We have people coming through our doors with a whole variety of issues, from people needing help filling in forms to people who are suffering abuse, but by far the biggest need we see is loneliness.

Our friends over at Supporting Older People, based at East Parade’s Community House, share our passion for helping those in need.

Julia Lightfoot, who is Home Visiting and Activities Manger at the 30-year-old charity, said: “There’s a massive loneliness issue in Harrogate because it’s an aging town; a lot of people’s friends and family members have died.

“When people are a unit, like a husband and wife, it’s great… but when one of them passes away, the other is left thinking ‘what do I do now’?

The ‘what do I do now?’ moment is something that almost everybody will go through and will inevitably start to feel lonely.

Julia said that taking the initial step is often the hardest step for people, especially men, who often bottle up how they’re feeling.

At the Harrogate Hub, we’re also seeing younger people suffering from loneliness too.

Since, we opened in January, we’ve had people of all ages, from 18 to 90, coming through our doors.

Caroline Hurren, who is a pastoral carer at the Harrogate Hub, said: “Some people walk in before we’re even officially open and then they stay for the entire time. You wonder how long they’d stay if we didn’t have to close.

Several regulars have said it’s an absolute luxury to have a conversation, not just to be listened to, but to have a laugh as well. We’re not just meeting needs, we’re offering friendship.”

Not only is loneliness an often-overlooked issue, it is classified as a serious health issue.

“Chronic loneliness is cutting lives short, and the problem is growing”, said RCGP chair Professor Stokes- Lampard in her opening speech at the college’s annual conference.

Being lonely is worse for you than obesity and is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

In the speech she gave in Liverpool at the beginning of last month, she called on the four governments of the UK to increase funding for general practice in order to give GPs ‘time to care’.

Health-care professionals are starting to signpost people to the Hub, because we are not time limited. We can provide long-term support, walking alongside people for as long as they need it and welcoming them into community.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, fully supports the call for GPs needing time to care. She said: “Our recent research with the LSE found that for every £1 spent on tackling loneliness, up to £3 can be saved in health costs – and GPs can play a huge part in identifying the older people who need help. We want all GPs to be able to spot the signs of loneliness, and would encourage GP surgeries – where possible – to link up with local services that tackle loneliness.

“We also need commissioners to fund the early interventions and services that will stop lonely people needing to go see their GPs in the first place. The health and economic benefits for tackling loneliness in older people are clear. Now, we need action.”

One way to help prevent this, according to Supporting Older People, is simple human contact.

Julia said: “It’s having that human voice to break up the monotony of the day. I have people who say all they do is stare at the same four walls every day. Having someone there breaks up their day, gives them a new face and a new aspect.”

The charity has around 70 volunteers. Many of them are matched as home-visitors to go to people’s homes and have a chat with them once a week.

They also host a range of activities from ‘tea and talk’, ‘singing group’ to frequent outings.

Young or old, anyone can feel lonely or isolated and it’s not a nice feeling at all. It can often engulf your life without even realising it; not to mention the impact it has on your health.

If you’re feeling lonely, why not pop in and see us at Harrogate Hub. Likewise, you can contact Supporting Older People.

Both charities are also looking for more volunteers. With the end of the year approaching, maybe you could make it your new year’s resolution to help combat loneliness in our town.

Article links:

Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/campaigns/new-research-reveals-extent-of-loneliness-and-shows-just-how-much-money-interventions-can-save-1-8763590

http://www.gponline.com/read-professor-helen-stokes-lampards-rcgp-conference-2017-speech-full/article/1447175

https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org

Written by Rachel Williams
Edited by Ella Green

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Simply the best biscuit-maker in the world!

This week I got to meet the lovely Gwen, one of the pastoral carers at the Hub.

I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that she is also our oldest pastoral carer. She’s introduced to me as “the best biscuit-maker ever!” The Hub certainly seems to attract some great bakers (just check out our facebook posts for proof of all the baked delights we’ve been given!)

Gwen found out about the Harrogate Hub through her church, Kairos, and decided to go on the training course to become a pastoral carer. “I thought it would be a good way to help people, because there are just so many lonely people. I chat to people on the bus and most people like to talk, but a lot of people don’t have time to listen.”

At the Hub, Gwen works alongside other pastoral carers at the Hub, who come from different churches across Harrogate. “It’s good fellowship and we can learn from one another. We all show each other a lot of love.” (I find out that some of this ‘learning’ includes Gwen giving Yorkshire dialect lessons to Vernon, one of our pastoral carers, who comes from America!)

Pastoral carers, friendship at the Harrogate Hub

Before Gwen moved to Harrogate, she was a pastoral friend and visitor at her previous church.

“I’ll go on as long as I can. There’s no age limit to being a pastoral carer. It’s been rewarding when people have come into the Hub and we’ve been able to help them.”

If you’d like to help at the Hub, whether you’re 18 or 80, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

harrogatehub.office@gmail.com

 

By Ella Green, Charity Officer

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June Update

Want to find out what’s happening at the Hub, take a look at our latest newsletter!

 

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Being a pastoral carer

Our pastoral carers are trained volunteers, who give up their time to welcome people into the Hub and listen to their stories. I recently had the chance to catch up with Sherry, one of our dedicated pastoral carers. She told me about her experience of volunteering at the Hub. 

Why did you get involved with the Hub?

There was a time at my church, where we were seeking a vision, and I spent time at church mediating and praying, asking God, ‘What is Church about?” As I was praying I found myself looking at a stained glass window representing Matthew 25:34-46, where Jesus talks about the importance of looking after those who are in need: “When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?… The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

It struck me powerfully that this is what the church is called to do. It’s very practical. We need to care for people and love them. I really caught this vision and wanted to see it become a reality. When I heard a talk about the Harrogate Hub, I was inspired by it. I filled in the survey they handed out, ticking nearly all of the boxes, so I could help in any way needed! (well, apart from admin!) I’m a practical person. I used to be a nurse, and I believe God uses the gifts you have, so I came for an interview at the Hub, did the pastoral care training course in July and started as a carer in November.

What is your role as pastoral carer?

As a pastoral carer, I simply listen to people. Some people just need to talk things out. And sometimes people need specific help, so we signpost other resources and services that might help them. There’s always hope to bring them out of the darkness. We want to care for people like Jesus does. As a pastoral carer, you just want to help make things better for people.

How have you found your time volunteering here so far?

It’s so good to see everybody start talking to each other and share their stories. Some people who have come to the Hub, have come back time and time again. And it’s great that some people who have received help, no longer need to come back anymore.


Interview by Ella Green, Charity Officer

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