Half a year ago the world was a different place. We did not know what the expression “social distancing” meant, and the idea of a country being in lockdown sounded like something out of a movie. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, at RJ4All we received calls from young people that were concerned about their futures. Many of us suddenly started studying or working from home, exams were cancelled, and a lot of young people lost their jobs as restaurants, cafés, bars and hotels closed. The situation of lockdown also increased the levels of anxiety, stress and loneliness, especially among young people.
Six months later, we are almost used to the “new normal”. We carry a face mask on our bags, we wash our hands many times a day and we instinctively keep distance with people in the street. It could seem that things are indeed going back to normal: the number of positive cases is much lower than in April and May, and schools and universities are slowly reopening. However, the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on young people’s lives is still very present. The uncertainties about the future in terms of studies and opportunities for employment continue to generate anxiety. As a youth-led organisation, the FRED campaign is aware of all the new mental health concerns that young people are facing, and we want to help.
The “You are not alone” Covid-19 campaign aims to improve young people’s mental health, raise awareness about mental health issues and break the stigma often associated with mental illness. We want to tackle loneliness and empower young people by providing them with a sense of resilience. The project comprises the following services, all of which are confidential and compliant with RJ4All’s online safeguarding statement.
- Free helpline monitored by trained young volunteers, who are here to listen to you in total confidentiality, and provide you support and guidance. You can call us on 0333 332 5042 from 10am to 10pm every day. Whether you are dealing with anxiety or loneliness, or you need some support to access food and PPE, our team of volunteers is always ready to listen and help. This service is totally free, and we will not keep record of any personal details or issues discussed during the call.
- If you prefer to talk with our volunteers over a chat box, you can contact us every day from 10am to 10pm on our website. This service is also operated by certified volunteers and all data is confidential.
- Our FRED Website offers a youth-led community forum, which offers young people a free space to share their feelings and concerns with others, thus creating a sense of community, building relations and reducing loneliness. Users can create their profiles and discuss any issue related to mental health and wellbeing. The forum is monitored by our volunteers, who ensure that the posts respect the forum rules and that privacy is guaranteed. Anyone can contribute and everyone’s voice will be heard.
- We have also created a certified e-course that aims to train anyone wishing to learn how to improve their understanding of mental health problems. The training is targeted to anyone that wants to learn how to effectively support people who are experiencing poor mental health especially in relation to the implications caused by COVID19.
- We distribute free food and PPE to families in need in Southwark, and we periodically donate PPE to young people and organisations that work in the front line.
- You can join our Facebook group to stay up to date with our project and find out about free resources and activities.
Finally, we have a bank of free resources with over 200 links. These include free activities for children, families and young people, but also free courses, webinars and information about Covid-19 and its effects. There is also a broad list of resources about mental health and wellbeing, and many physical activities and programmes to do to improve your wellbeing.
 Research focusing on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health shows that young people aged under 25 are suffering more with mental health issues over the last few months than any other age group. The Guardian. “Under-25s bearing brunt of Covid mental-health toll – survey”. Accessible here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/aug/30/under-25s-bearing-brunt-of-covid-mental-health-toll-survey?fbclid=IwAR1HkfwI7f48fQtuP8IkFMLUIFcOR6pBGWRc9j0Y6iLXUpCRNAU6iAWBay8