In Part 2 of our discussion, we’re going to be looking at some specific unmet needs in our town.
Please comment, share, or get in touch and tell us your thoughts on the needs in the Harrogate district. (You can check out Part 1 of the discussion here.)
Loneliness exists in all ages but predominately affects the elderly and the young people in the district.
In a UK survey of over 1000 GPs, more than three quarters said they were seeing 1-5 lonely people a day. (Campaign to End Loneliness, 2013).
According to recent research by the Yorkshire Post in partnership with the Campaign to End Loneliness, three quarters of people in Yorkshire and the Humber say that they have suffered with loneliness. ‘Minding the Gaps’ (2014) uncovered high-risk levels of drinking, pornography, mental illness, and loneliness in Harrogate. And the ‘Vital Signs’ report (published by Two Ridings Community Foundation, 2017) also showed that loneliness is one of the prime needs within Harrogate.
Loneliness is in fact the most common reason that people visit the Harrogate Hub. 30% of visits between January and June 2018 were made by people primarily seeking company. They are usually socially isolated, feel overwhelmed by their problems, don’t know where to turn, and/or how to access the specialist services and community groups that would benefit them. This statistic does not include the many other service-users who visited mainly for another reason, but for whom loneliness is also a daily challenge they face.
Discussion point: Is there more the churches and community can do to help combat loneliness? For example, is there a need for a co-ordinated buddying/befriending service reaching into people’s homes?
Young People and Mental Health
A large and growing body of research shows that good mental health is essential for individual wellbeing, for a happy, healthy society, and for a prosperous economy. Unfortunately, mental health problems are on the increase, with a rising demand on services and increasing complexity of need.
1:4 young people are struggling in this area. The Local Health Authority’s publication states:
“The population of young people under 19 in Harrogate District is 40,445. There are estimated to be 4645 children and young people between the age of 5 and 19 with a mental disorder. Some 6,800 are estimated to need some support from a professional other than a trained mental health worker, e.g. school nurse, teacher, youth justice worker, whilst 580 are estimated to need support from a specialist CAMHS and a further 25 require inpatient care.”
In total, there appear to be 12,050 young people in the district who have mental ill-health issues.
This is an alarming statistic – over 1:4 (Details from the document – Harrogate and Rural district CCG Transformation Plan for Children and Young People’s Emotional and Mental Health 2015-2020)
- Of the young people with mental ill-health, 1:4 girls are self-harming and 1:8 boys.
- In adults 1:4 are suffering from depression, breakdown, sadness etc.
- There is a 9 month wait time for access to Harrogate district therapeutic services, including Wellspring.
- It is estimated by mental health professionals that 1 in 4 girls will self-harm before they leave school.
- Hospital admissions in England are at a 5 year high for girls aged 10-14, showing a 93% increase. (4 May 2015)
- Self-harm reported to GPs among teenage girls (under the age of 17) in the UK increased by 68% over just three years.
- Around 13% of young people may try to hurt themselves on purpose at some point between the ages of 11 and 16, but the actual figure could be much higher.
- In 2014, figures were published suggesting a 70% increase in 10-14 year olds attending A&E for self-harm related reasons over the preceding 2 years.
Discussion point: How can the churches be better equipped to work with young people in a preventative capacity and work in partnership with the local health authority and education? Can the churches resource, through the Hub, a system of mentoring young people who are needing support? Do the churches need to be better trained and equipped to reach out to people struggling with mental illness?
Isolation in Families living with Autism
There appears to be a need for church Activities that are “Autism Family Friendly”. Further information is being collated in partnership with Carers’ Resource.
Helen Prince from Carers’ Resource writes:
“The most up-to-date info on the district that I have is from November 2016 – at that time the GP surgeries in Harrogate and Rural District had 617 children (0-18) with an autism diagnosis. There would also be a large number who were suspected to have ASC but not yet diagnosed.
At Carers’ Resource we have nearly 400 families on our database who are caring for a child with autism. All of these families have felt sufficient pressure to reach out and ask for help from us as a charity.
Having a child with autism is extremely isolating. For many families, there have been years of wondering what is wrong, why your parenting doesn’t seem to be right, why everyone else has a child who will join in at the playgroup, play nicely with the other children, try the food, heed warnings etc. For a long time, you wonder what is wrong with you as a parent before you even start the arduous journey of wondering if your child has additional needs and trying to find the right help.
It is much easier not to leave the house than endure the stares and disapproval as your child has a melt-down in the supermarket. Why not just shop online? Santa’s grotto is a sensory nightmare for most autistic children, so you don’t put them through anything like that. Increasingly you find yourself staying at home where you can control the environment, the food, the routine because that is the only way your child seems able to cope.”
Discussion point: What can churches do to support families living with autistic children?
Isolation in the Business Community
Many business people in Harrogate are struggling and I am sure would welcome regular visits from volunteer ‘chaplains’. Volunteer chaplains could operate from the Hub calling into businesses enquiring on employers and employees, asking about their well-being and for any prayer needs.
According to the charity MIND, in any given year, in Britain, one in six workers experience depression, anxiety or stress. It costs the UK economy £26 billion a year. In total, 70 million working days are lost every year due to mental ill health. And 10 million of these working days are directly caused by work-related problems. On average, we spend 10.5 years of our lives at work. Shouldn’t those years be happy and fulfilled? Business chaplains could make a big difference to the individuals affected and to the overall economy of Harrogate.
Discussion point: Are the local churches able to provide volunteers for chaplaincy training with a commitment to providing a service to the business community?
Isolation in the LBGT+ community
North Yorkshire has no provision for supporting and advising people identifying with gender difference.
A 2010 report by LGBT Youth Scotland (Challenging Homophobia Together)
The report noted that homophobic bullying creates additional physical and mental health risks for those who identify as LGBT. This includes increased rates of substance abuse, lack of adequate sexual health knowledge, physical violence, and isolation. This isolation reaches all areas of life, from the possibility of homelessness when coming out to family members, to a higher rate of mental health issues due to homophobia, and the inability to freely express oneself. Social relationships are built on trust earned through perceived commonality and experiences. Therefore, when LGBT young people and children of LGBT families cannot divulge their identities and home life to peers, their relationships suffer, leading to further social isolation.
Discussion point: How can the local churches and community offer support to the LGBT+ community? The Hub could be a venue for a support network.
The Hub is working alongside the district’s civic sector, health providers and 3rd sector providers. These sectors are increasingly showing a desire to work more closely together with Harrogate churches to consider local needs and how they can be addressed locally.
Thank you so much taking the time to read these blogs based on our discussion paper. It is designed to be helpful in shaping our thinking into action. We’d love for you to join in the conversation!
Written by Jo-Ann Hughes
Special thanks to Ella Green (co-worker) and Helen Prince (Carer’s Resource) for help compiling the discussion paper