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#Youngpeople today are living in a world which has changed dramatically. This is the digital era – the age of social media – whole lives are projected online via sites such as Facebook and Instagram. The world is rapidly evolving and young people are facing a life where terms like cyber-bullying, ‘Facebooking’ and ‘going viral’ are the norm. On top of this the opportunities to advance their lives and carve successful careers are limited compared to previous years, thanks to the relentless stagnation of our economy. Older generations are staying in work longer thanks to increased pension age and longer life spans and free higher education is a thing of the past, potentially restricting individuals from getting better job. Those who do go to university face enormous fees of up to £9000 a year and a lifetime riddled with debt. Many public sector organisations and private companies have reduced their apprenticeship schemes and youths are scrabbling in their hundreds and thousands for low or unpaid internships even if they have degrees.

Life is not easy for young people of today.

“Teenagers and young people have an unmapped mountain to climb and most of them already have grit under their fingernails from making a damn good try. We shouldn’t be bashing them – we should look a little harder at what we’ve done.”

But what about young people who are living in poverty, as well as facing the general problems of growing up in a recession-riddled digital age? Can we really blame the kids or are they victims of their era? In contrary to the (sometimes) mass perceived notion of young people – especially those who end up on benefits – is that this is their choice; their accountability. Most young people do not aspire to a life in the dole queue and want the opportunities many poverty-stricken baby-boomers had in their time. Social mobility is more inert than ever and blaming young people for their inability to progress is unfair and short sighted.

What can be done to help young people in poverty in the UK?

Many charities like No Limits, offer an olive branch and the prospect of enabling young people to take positive steps towards a better life – a future which may not have been deemed possible by the young person.

Thanks to the generous donations we’ve received and the money raised for No Limits, we have been able to raise some of the funds to send four young people to complete The Challenge Adventure Charities Rad Vlaanderen Stuttgart Challenge 2013 at the end of September, which is in aid of Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

By including disadvantaged young people in this challenge we are supporting them in their quest for a positive life and better future. The skills and experience they will inevitably gain will be transferable to many aspects of their lives and increase overall confidence.

“I am at the beginning of my adult life, just starting to find my feet. I struggled in the past due to criminal behaviour, always looking for ways to get money but I am now realising my potential working with No Limits. I was referred by Probation to No Limits. Their Next Steps project always helps keep me busy and active. I enjoy cycling to get out and to keep fit and am really looking forward to the trip if we can raise enough to participate”

Young people of today are facing such adversity and struggle – let’s start helping them pave the way for a positive future by providing opportunities like the Rad Bike Challenge. Help support charities like No Limits who enable young people to help themselves.

Give some of our young people – disadvantaged or not – credit for fighting back against the problematic society we live in today. Let’s help them move forward and enable them to make something of their lives, irrespective of background or financial wealth.

Young people are more resilient than we think. Let’s help them, not crush them.

Max Willis

Marketing & Communications Intern

No Limits

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#YoungParents Should Read This

Life is a lottery and where you are born can mean everything…

The #DuchessofCambridge is in labour and the #RoyalBaby’s birth is imminent. The press are waiting with baited breath, “boy or girl, future king or queen?” What a life awaits this child. No financial concerns will dog its parents, no housing problems or school dinner money worries will keep them awake at night. A life without many of the problems facing parents in the UK today.

What about young parents? For them life can be tough on myriad levels. For those who lack the vital support of an extended family unit, parenthood can be even harder. Isolation can have a devastating effect on a young parent and create future problems for the children. In addition, young parents often face a barrage of criticism and judgement from the media who continue to stigmatise them in the press. Some may feel left out by their child-free peers who don’t have time for them anymore, as well as facing a future without a formal education – limiting future job prospects. Others slip into a life using drugs and alcohol to combat seclusion.

The list is endless, but there is hope.

No Limits run a project for young parents called Bright Beginnings. By working on an individual basis with young people we aim to extend our knowledge and experience of parenthood to those who need a little extra help and support. No Limits encourage young people who are pregnant or who have small children under two to maintain good relationships with people and build strong, positive connections with their children. The Bright Beginnings’ mentors are focused on building parenting confidence, encouraging and teaching the methods that will enable their children to flourish.

Young people will continue to have babies in the UK despite the customary sex education in schools and the rudimentary knowledge of how tough life can be as a parent. When it does happen though, instead of dismissing and condemning, we should continue to offer ways of improving an outcome which could be potentially disastrous long-term.

If you are a young parent who needs our help, please visit us at No Limits, 24A Bernard Street, Southampton, SO14 3AY or call 02380236237

If you would like to volunteer as a Bright Beginnings Mentor, get it touch – No Limits need you! If you would like to provide No Limits with much needed financial support to continue fundamental services then send £3 via TEXT to NLMO1.

Facebook Generation

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Over 901 million people worldwide use Facebook currently. Of those, an average of 526 million people use Facebook daily. Facebook, as well as Twitter are two of the most common social media platforms which have changed the face of the world. How businesses, individuals and charities operate has been radically affected and influenced by what some term ‘The Facebook Effect’.  When considering the huge amount of users and the ‘virtual communities’ created by the social media channels, No Limits have adapted and increased the mode of online communication. Twitter and Facebook allow content to be shared quickly and easily and encourages user interaction, which websites do not always offer.

No Limits are committed to providing a useful and readily available advice service for young people in the Hampshire area, so it is vital funding opportunities continue. Social media is now integral in this process. A range of social media platforms are utilised, targeting two specific demographics: young people and individuals/businesses who currently or will potentially donate to the charity.

Facebook specifically is ideal for posting current and relevant news articles, as well as No Limits’ blogs written by staff members and volunteers – often relating directly to services provided at No Limits. This encourages cohesion between current affairs and services we offer to the young people who use our charity. In today’s UK’s austere climate young people are struggling with common social concerns, such as: unemployment, homelessness and crime. Using social media platforms to highlight factors contributing to young people’s problems may help to dispel common misconceptions about why they face so much adversity in this country and encourage people to support us financially or through volunteering.

The importance of creating compelling content for our social media users is paramount, so the overall personality of No Limits is consistent, positive, socially and ethically responsible and politically objective.  The aim of social media within the charity is to convert visitors of our multi-channels to No Limits service users, or donators who support the continuation of our vital services through funding.

Over the last month the amount of visitors No Limits’ Facebook page has reached for example, has been increasing and in the last week alone has gone up by 290.78%. The amount of engaged users – those who actively talk about No Limits beyond the parameters of our pages – has increased by 192.86% in seven days. Twitter has seen an increase in re-tweets, suggesting a surge in interest and approval of No Limits’ brand personality and perception.

These figures are encouraging and allow content to be target driven, so we can continue to provide engaging information which is talked about via Twitter and Facebook, thus increasing the awareness of the charity.

The social media arena continues to progress and evolve, signifying the importance of a continuous and stimulating online presence.

What do you think about Facebook and Twitter? Friend or foe?

Like it or not social media is here to stay for now so it must be embraced – not ignored, or we face potentially vanishing into the void of social media oblivion, which in online terms is equivalent to extinction!

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Do you have what it takes to change a life?

Do you want to make a huge difference to someone’s life?

Do you enjoy going to the cinema, cafés or playing football? If so, why not become an Independent Visitor volunteer and make a huge impact in a young person’s life by building not only rapport, but confidence – you may even enjoy yourself at the same time!

If you have 4 hours a month to spare, you can be a truly significant and positive influence on a young person, who may lack an adult role model to enjoy life’s simple pleasures with or gain emotional support from.

Like some young people, Paul 15 has lived most of his life in care and foster housing and has received regular support from various organisations, including No Limits’ Advocacy service. Aside from the essential help he has been provided, Paul would love a mentor, a supporter, a friend -someone he can relate to, talk to and spend time with – independent of an official capacity. Like Paul, other young people require a male IV and currently demand is outstripping supply.

No Limits will provide necessary training for our Independent Visitor Volunteers (IVs), support and expenses, to enable the successful relationship between young person and IV to continue for at least a year. We ask that you as a volunteer are committed enough, so a sustainable relationship with the young person can be managed. Many individuals in care and foster homes lack the consistency many are fortunate to have and we want to nurture the rapport with the young person, over a minimum period of time. No Limits will assist the process and facilitate the Independent Visitor volunteer, so the needs of the young person can be met.

Try our statistics quiz on young people and care – it may surprise you (answer at the bottom)

#1 How Many children are in care at any one time in the UK?

33,000                    88,000                       44,000           91,000

#2  What percentage of looked after children were in foster care placements?

20%                           50%                         73%               49%

#3   What % of care leavers go onto University?

 45%                           62%                          6%              15%

#4 In 2010 1 in 10 children had how many different placements? (foster care)

5                                10                           3                         1

#5 By the age of 19, how many care leavers are not in education, employed or training?

1/3                               ½                         80%                       60%

Imagine the huge difference you could make by spending time with a young person who just needs encouragement, support and your time.  Many youngsters would benefit from spending time with an unbiased adult who can listen to problems, or take a young person to a café for a cup of tea and cake.

No Limits needs you! You can apply by emailing enquiries@nolimitshelp.org.uk or calling 023 8023 6237 and visiting http://nolimitshelp.org.uk. You do not need youth work experience just a positive attitude, commitment and a wish to be a encouraging and consistent influence on a young person.

Answers:

#1 91,000 #2 50% #3 6% #4 5 #5 1/3

A cold wind is blowing through Southampton: Food and clothing will unfortunately not be enough!

open-sign.jpgA few days ago we put up a plea on our Facebook page about our need for  ‘in kind’ support for the young people of Southampton. ‘We’ve been getting through a lot of food, woolly hats, scarves and other resources in this cold weather, supporting young people who are sofa surfing or sleeping out. Any donations you can make would be great; tins of food, pasta, thermos flasks, sleeping bags.Drop them into a No Limits centre.’

Just to put this in perspective: In Southampton there are hundreds of young people who are  homeless or who have no permanent place to live. Our aim at No Limits is to find them accommodation but in the short term we support those who are “sofa surfing” (staying a few nights here and there) with food as they come to us hungry or needing to be able to provide food for their host. We also supply snacks and give out food to help young people make a meal. In our three centres they can use a shower, washing machine, have emergency clothing and access funding for urgent social needs.

We have been fortunate in receiving support from individuals but also donations from local organisations such as BBC Radio Solent, Wave 105 FM and Southampton Rotary as well as some Trusts and Foundations.
Today’s Southern Echo reported that the City Council has confirmed its intention of making massive cuts, just under £500,000 of these cuts will be from Youth Services and almost £1 million from Children’s Centres. We are now also aware of the various changes to Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits that are due to start in April. All of these changes will affect families and their children and  young people.

Our need for help in kind, for volunteers and increased donations will, I think, be on the up! 

Go to http://www.nolimitshelp.org.uk/overview/donate 

No Limits: Helping young people help themselves.