UK Youths findings on the impact the cost of living crisis is having on young people and how The Rock Youth is supporting young people. CFM News Article.

Author: Joseph Gartly Published 19th Apr 2023

More and more young people in Carlisle attending youth group for meals, hygiene and clothes, as cost of living crisis hits

Nearly two-thirds of young people in the North West say the cost of living crisis is having a negative impact on their mental health  PoundsPixaby

New polling* of young people (16-25 year olds) and parents in the North West from national youth work charity, UK Youth, has raised serious concerns over the impact of the cost of living crisis on young people’s mental health, employment opportunities – and even access to regular meals.  

There is growing evidence of long-term effects, with nearly two thirds of young people (60%) surveyed saying their mental health has been negatively impacted by the cost of living crisis. Likewise, four out of five of young people (80%) are concerned the crisis will restrict their ability to get a secure job now and in the future – with just 2% of young people having no concerns at all.  

The polling, conducted by research company Census wide, also reveals a number of additional concerns for young people in the North West about loneliness, heating their homes and access to food: 

Almost half of young people (47%) say the cost of living crisis is having an impact on their ability to heat their homes 

Over a third (35%) say they are more lonely as they reduce their social life to save money 

One in five (21%) say their access to regular meals has been negatively impacted  

Parents are similarly concerned for young people – an overwhelming majority (85%) surveyed are concerned that the cost of living crisis will negatively impact their child’s future, with four in ten (40%) concerned about the mental health effects and over a third (38%) believing it is restricting employment opportunities.  

The evidence also shows that one in four parents (27%) are eating fewer regular meals to save money to support their children. 

Three quarters of parents (74%) whose children are being negatively impacted by the cost of living crisis believe better or increased access to youth work would help – while half of young people (50%) believe increased access to youth work would benefit their mental health and a third (33%) believe it would improve their employment opportunities. 

The Rock Youth Project in Carlisle works with children and young people ages 7-19 from Carlisle South, running clubs in Currock and Petteril Bank. They’ve noticed these trends in more and more young people needing support since the pandemic, and now have 50 service users a night.

The project provides a safe space for children and young people learn, play, and have fun through a range of activities including football, tennis, badminton, rounders, a cooking club and trips in school holidays. There is free food every session as well as a free food bank and toiletries bank, and a new community washing machine and dryer to meet the needs of the community. Everything is provided free of charge.

Hannah Gill, Project Manager at The Rock Youth Project, said: “The areas we work in have high levels of deprivation and the cost of living crisis has hit our community hard. We have seen more young people attending our service, many coming for a free hot meal as they would go without at home.

“We have also had to branch out into community work, opening a free food bank, toiletry hygiene bank, clothes and baby items bank along with free community coffee mornings, teen parent mornings and a community washing machine. We have seen an increase in take up of all of these services. The Easter holidays saw us give out double the number of food packages than we do in term time and we have had huge numbers of young people through our doors as parents and carers can’t afford childcare.

“We are seeing particular problems with young people from families with parents or carers in work. The current support available focusses on people with benefits, which is needed, but those who are working don’t qualify for support and are falling through the cracks. There are many people working full time who still can’t make ends meet.”