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It’s Your Choice New Forest

by | Mar 15, 2022 | Community News

Closure of a Young Peoples Charity in New Forest.

Services: Support with Emotional Health, Information Advice and Guidance. Counselling to children and young people aged 11-25 across the whole of the New Forest.

Despite a widely reported significant 45% increase in need relating to emotional health issues faced by the young people of the New Forest, Trustees have, with great regret concluded that we have to cease trading and close our services by the 7th April 2022.

The charity, which currently supports around 1000 young people with their emotional health each year, has been directly affected by the lack of longer-term funding opportunities over the last two years of the pandemic. There is not an adequate budget for It’s Your Choice to legally trade beyond early April this year.  The grants which we have already sourced are not sufficient to guarantee our work and consequently, these will not be paid over to us.

We are working with partner agencies in the New Forest to identify alternative means of providing this much needed support, but all of them are having difficulty in sourcing statutory or donor funds.

Trustees have agreed to review this decision if, at any point before full closure, sufficient funding is obtained giving certainty of a further year’s operation and the opportunity to move to a more sustainable income generation model.  We are still pursuing options for this. Any further money pledged and identified unspent finance will be directed towards agencies working in the New Forest which can, at least, meet some of the needs, which we know our closing will result in removing access to the help children and young people have.

 

Short notes:

  • Small charities like It’s Your Choice provide a vital service to the community, supporting statutory services and preventing emotional health issues deteriorating.
  • The charity, which provides a range of Information Advice and Guidance services also works in schools and community venues across the Forest.
  • Although we were successful in drawing down government support via the Lottery to continue and meet the immediate needs during the pandemic, applications for post pandemic funding have been oversubscribed leaving Its Your Choice in this unfortunate position. All we have approached for funding acknowledge the level of need and the impact of It’s Your Choice closing.
  • Mike Taylor Chairman of the Trustees said: “We have explored all opportunities to identify funding for our vital work to continue beyond March and held off making this decision until it was clear that no agency such as NHS or Children’s Services and no major Trust or donor would provide us with the secure income needed. This is despite making a strong case for funding and providing detail of the damaging impact the ending of all our services will have on children and young people in the New Forest.  Our priority is to our children and young people and we are looking at every option to keep elements of our services going for them.”
  • Alex Martin Wellness Lead at New Forest Academy said:

The impact of no longer having Its your Choice coming into New Forest Academy will have a huge detrimental effect going forward. I am very concerned already about mental health across young people, not only within our School but in the wider community.

Whilst Its your Choice are able to attend our School, the students having a weekly or fortnightly time to reflect and speak with someone is massively important and has made a difference in their lives; often having a stable adult (that is separate from home or school) who listens and respects them can have really significant effects on their own wellbeing but that of their view of others and social interactions. There have been significant increases in attendance and progress from students who get this ongoing support from It’s your Choice.

 

Contact information: Mike Taylor – Chair of Trustees – 07736650610

                                        Chris Shaw – Chief Officer – …….. 07956 360344 (main office 023 8098 4245)

                       

Additional information

It’s Your Choice already has an established service profile and is well known in the Forest with 35 years of experience, which must be be considered key to address issues over this unique geographical area.  Our emphasis has always been on ease of access with working in schools, youth and community centres and with other voluntary organisations as well as online links.  All geared to make contact easy and our response as quick as possible.

The New Forest has inadequate provision for early intervention and the prevention of deterioration of children and young people’s mental health. This is evident from the feedback we get from parents, schools and other referral agencies and the sheer number of clients we are seeing in comparison to previous years with a 42% rise in emotional health referrals.  Waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are growing and many young people, who currently do not meet threshold for immediate support, are waiting on services whilst their mental health continues to deteriorate.    This puts huge pressure upon them and their families.

The loss of It’s Your Choice with no immediate replacement for the service is bound to impact significantly on New Forest statutory services, which are already experiencing considerable strain with increased assessed demand.

Establishing support for young people is a key government target driven by need however, plans to bolster mental health support will take time to establish. This will leave many children and young people unable to access provision, at a time when the fallout from the pandemic is having its most significant impact on their mental health.