'Acknowledge this crisis' - Young people 'at breaking point' groups warn
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Mounting stress and social isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are leaving the region's young people "at breaking point", 12 youth organisations and charities have warned.
Twelve Norfolk youth organisations have co-signed a powerful open letter highlighting the challenges young people, particularly those in education, have faced throughout the pandemic.
In the letter, the organisations have called for schools, colleges and local authorities to stand up and take notice of the situation, which they have called "a crisis".
With the pandemic causing greater social isolation, coupled with disruption to education and added stress and anxiety around exams, the letter has urged authorities to make the wellbeing of young people a top priority.
It reads: "With the absence of their usual support networks, combined with increasing pressure from schools and teachers to catch up on missed work and meet exam targets, young people are reporting feeling overwhelmed, stressed and unwell.
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"We have seen increased numbers unable to cope with the pressure they feel they are under, worsening stress, anxiety and depression. This is even more challenging for those with additional needs. Many young people say they are at breaking point."
The letter has been signed by representatives of the organisations that work closest with young people in the county, including MAP, the Norfolk Youth Advisory Board and YMCA Norfolk.
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John Fisher, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, said: "The ongoing pandemic is having an impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people across Norfolk and we've seen those working to support children and young people do everything they can to meet the changing challenges this has brought to schools and beyond.
"Schools have risen to the challenge by providing safe, secure environments and continued trusted relationships with pupils, families and the wider community."
Throughout the pandemic schools have been able to access a programme funded by the Department for Education, which provides wellbeing training for school staff.
Meanwhile, young people in need of support can contact the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust's first response telephone advise line on 0805 196 3494.
The 12 organisations backing the letter are:
- ASD Helping Hands
- Caring Together
- Lola Stafford Consulting Ltd
- MTM Youth Services
- Norfolk's Members of Youth Parliament
- Norfolk's Youth Advisory Boards
- Ormiston Families
- Sprowston Youth Engagement Project
- Young Activist Network
- YMCA Norfolk