New statistics show the real difference your support makes

In the first six months from 1st April to end of September 2023, Eikon has been there for 1,527 children and young people 8,982 times.

 

Click on our new infographic to find out how with your support, these young people and their families have a safe place to turn.

These incredible numbers only tell part of the story. The real impact is in the difference made for children and young people and their families. A young person recently told us, “When I first met Sarah, I was depressed, unmotivated, having anxiety attacks, and had a real lack of self-belief…I’m now happier and believe I can achieve my dreams.”

In a recent survey of 100+ children and young people we’ve helped in the first quarter of 2023-24…

  • 100% said they were given the support they needed at the right time,
  • 100% said that the support improved their situation, and
  • 100% said they would recommend Eikon to other children in similar situations.

It’s hugely motivating for us to see the positive transformations in the children and young people we help. You can click on the stories below, to hear more from the children and young people you support.

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Growing community support for Eikon’s Tea Garden

The Eikon Gardens are a place for young people to learn new skills, make friends, relax in nature, and talk to a trusted adult in a safe space.

The Hopes and Dreams Garden and the recently renovated Tea Garden are only possible with the help of so many different kinds of community support. From donating plants to refreshing furniture with a lick of paint, or weeding and maintaining the gardens. Every job, however big or small, helps bring together this wonderful space for everyone to enjoy. Whether that’s at our Gardening Clubs, a session with an Eikon practitioner in the gardens, or a moment of rest and reflection with a cup of tea outside. And just as no job by itself maintains the gardens, no one person is ever alone.

Through weekly Gardening Clubs, students help maintain the gardens and last year they fundraised to give the green spaces a makeover. Recently we also received a wide range of generous support from our community to help improve the new Tea Garden. As a result of this community support, the Gardening Clubs have been able to lay fresh gravel, plant new flowers, and create a Tea Garden space for young people, Eikon staff and volunteers, and visiting parents and carers to enjoy.

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Donated plants from J.Parker’s

J.Parker’s, a well-known plant nursery in Manchester contacted us to kindly donate plants for our Gardening Clubs. Their generous contribution of over 80 bulbs and plants and a great quantity of seeds will help to brighten up our gardens – a thriving space for wildlife and beautiful place for reflection.

It means so much for children and young people to be able to plant these bulbs, watch them grow and thrive.

“The garden is like my time at Eikon. We don’t see the changes straight away, but one day we will notice three flowers.” – young person

Pictured is an Osteospermum flowering plant from J.Parkers, adding a splash of colour to the Tea Garden.

Osteospermum potted flowers

 

Volunteers got their hands in the soil

In June, Lucy from Bupa UK and Rose from a local marketing agency Space & Time Media, spent a day volunteering in the Tea Garden. Lucy and Rose helped with weeding, clearing and scrubbing, leaving our Tea Garden area looking spotless and ready for the gardening club to lay gravel and grow more plants.

Lucy and Rose said “Thank you so so much for organising the day. We had a great time… It was lovely to meet so many of the Eikon team and see so many young people using the services. It was fab!”

Joanne, Eikon Schools Team said “Lucy and Rose were lovely. They were happy to engage in any activity that was needed and were a ray of sunshine themselves.”

Thank you Lucy and Rose!

There are lots of different ways corporate teams can get involved and help young people in Surrey. You can find out more about corporate support here.

Two corporate volunteers in garden with Chris, CEO of Eikon
Raised beds in the Eikon Tea Garden
Corporate volunteers in the Tea Garden posing with cake

 

Fantastic furniture restored by Woking & District Men’s Shed

To complete the Tea Garden area, Woking & District Men’s Shed restored a set of old rusty, un-loved metal table and chairs. The furniture now has pride of place in the Tea Garden. Young people, staff and volunteers, and parents and carers can sit on the garden furniture and appreciate the new outdoor space for rest and reflection.

Thank you to Woking & District Men’s Shed for also donating two Swift Boxes – the young people at Gardening Clubs plan to use these in the main Hopes and Dreams Garden to support the local wildlife.

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Eikon and Woking & District Men's Shed with garden furniture
Restored garden furniture in Eikon Tea Garden
Swift Boxes on a potting bench

Generous support from Byfleet United Charity

We want to say a huge thank you the Byfleet United Charity who generously funded this Tea Garden restoration project as part of their donation after visiting our Garden Open Day in 2022.

“Gardening club is for all school years and is relaxing and somewhere to have a rest with nature.” – young person

We know that being outside with nature can have a significant positive impact on our wellbeing. Thanks to community support like this, our garden spaces at Eikon can continue to provide a safe space for young people to connect with nature, relax and have fun.

“The garden project is wonderful. It brings such joy. Thank you” – Guest at Garden Open Day 2023

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How you can get involved…

All of us at Eikon and the young gardeners are so grateful for this community support! It has helped transform a space for everyone to enjoy and we couldn’t be happier with how it looks.

Do you want to help your community and spend time in nature?

We’re looking for adult volunteers to help us at weekly Gardening Clubs, or to provide ad-hoc help to maintain the garden. If you’re interested, please contact schools@eikon.org.uk for more information.

More volunteering opportunities
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Pride in Surrey 2023

Celebrating and connecting with the LGBTQ+ community and allies from across Surrey at Pride in Surrey on 9th September 2023.

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Our Project Worker Katy reflected on the event…

 

“🌈 We had an amazing day talking about our LGBTQ+ youth group and giving out temporary tattoos at Pride in Surrey!

It was incredible to see so many people coming together to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. And meeting other organisations also supporting young people across Surrey was really empowering.

We all have a role to play in increasing visibility, keeping LGBTQ+ people safe, and creating a more inclusive future. 🏳️‍🌈”

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Two Eikon Youth Workers at Pride in Surrey stall

 

This year at Pride in Surrey, our stall in the youth zone enabled us to have fantastic conversations with young people and families about LGBTQ+ support available in Surrey. We also had our pride mural where everyone could add their message of support, and see that Eikon and others are here for them if they need a place of safety and inclusion.

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Eikon Pride in Surrey stall
Information pin board at Eikon Pride in Surrey stall

Support for LGBTQ+ young people

Eikon offers friendly, confidential and practical support to all young people in Surrey and their families. We’re excited to share that our LGBTQ+ youth group and one-to-one support sessions will be resuming in October! These provide a safe space for young people to access support and guidance, as well as a chance to share and discuss feelings and emotions around being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Our LGBTQ+ youth groups are safe spaces for questions, support, discussions, activities and to make new friends. Our groups are completely free and open to all young people aged 11-18 (or up to 24 for young people and SEND) across Surrey who identify as LGBTQ+ or questioning. Click the link below to register your interest for our youth groups.

Register your interest
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Eikon LGBTQ+ pride mural

LGBTQ+ support for schools and parents & carers

In addition to our work with LGBTQ+ young people, we support families and schools to foster inclusivity. Parents and carers can access one-to-one support sessions with their young people and/or separately, as well as attend upcoming parent workshops. Schools and colleges can also request visits featuring pop-up stands, assemblies and LGBTQ+ youth drop-ins.

You can reach us at eikonLGBT@eikon.org.uk to book a visit or find out more about any of the above.

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Woking Golf Club charity day raises record amount for the children and young people of Surrey

The Captains of Woking Golf Club pulled out all the stops for Eikon this year, raising a record amount for any charity golf day in the club’s history.

 

Woking Golf Club worked so hard to create an amazing day with a fantastic array of prizes for their raffle and auction. Prizes ranged from 4-ball vouchers at some of the UKs most prestigious clubs, to chauffeur driven vintage cars and beautiful paintings by local artists.

The golf events throughout the day were so popular, that members were having to join a waiting list to enter teams on the day.

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Eikon Team and Woking Golf Club members posing under gazebo
Woking Golf Club Charity Team
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Woking Golf Club members and Eikon team at Charity Day

Our staff, volunteers, and the young people we work with are so grateful to the Captains of Woking Golf Club for choosing us as their charity of the year and putting on this incredible event. We want to say a huge thank you to all the staff and members as well who together raised a staggering £25,000 for Eikon!

Thanks to Woking Golf Club’s support, more local children and young people will have somewhere to turn when help is needed.

You can read more about the ways this support helps the children and young people of Surrey here.

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The Captains of Woking Golf Club shared…

 

“Child and adolescent mental health really is a challenge for our times. Throughout all communities across Surrey, there are too many young people in crisis, too many who, without the help of Eikon would go under the radar. Eikon helps before the problem becomes a crisis and that is why we at Woking Golf Club wanted to help.”

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Woking Golf Club Charity Day art prize
Painting of Woking Golf Club House by Grace Cerveny
Woking Golf Club Charity Day auction
Auction prizes including a signed Harlequins rugby top
Woking Golf Club Charity Day raffle prizes
Fantastic selection of raffle prizes on the day

Get involved

You can make a real difference to the lives of children and young people in Surrey.

Whether you want to run a marathon or host a coffee morning, there are lots of different ways you can get involved.

Click on the links below, or contact our friendly team about your next great fundraising idea…

Take on a challenge Get your company involved More ways to support us

The Hopes and Dreams Garden – a space for young people to relax, learn and grow

Over five years ago, a group of students had a dream to transform an overgrown part of their school grounds into a beautiful garden that could be enjoyed by future students and help their wellbeing.

In 2017 their journey started with just £20.  The students fundraised, designed, and created the garden with the support of Eikon staff and community volunteers.  In July 2019, the Hopes and Dreams Garden officially opened, providing a space where students could volunteer and help create something beautiful for others to enjoy, all while learning new skills and making new friends.

Since then, student volunteers have continued to enjoy maintaining the garden together at weekly garden club sessions, including during the challenging COVID-19 years.  In the last school year, over 100 students attended our garden club at Fullbrook School.  This gave them a safe place to get involved with nature activities, relax, have fun and connect with others.  We use the 5 Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Learn, Active, Notice, and Give – to focus on how we can look after our own, and others wellbeing.

Our student gardeners continue to enjoy improving and expanding the garden spaces.  They look to re-use materials where possible, and recognise the need to fundraise to support the garden space so it can continue to help young people.

“Throughout my time at Fullbrook as a student I enjoyed being heavily involved in the Garden Project.  It’s really nice to see a garden used across the whole of Eikon.  It’s so rewarding to see the growing numbers in garden clubs and how the garden is benefitting the young people.”

David, Eikon Volunteer

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Garden Open Day

In July 2022, our student volunteers hosted their first garden open day, showing their families and friends what they have created.  The gardeners planned for the open day months in advance, sharing their ideas about how to make it an enjoyable visit for guests of all ages.  Tour guides also practiced so they could confidently and proudly show the guests around the garden.

At the open day, the young gardeners sold different plants they had propagated and gifts they hand made with items from the garden.  There were games, a scavenger hunt, refreshments, and we even had a special guest appearance from our first hedgehog in the garden!

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Vegetable garden

Our student volunteers were thrilled with the amount they fundraised to improve the garden spaces and get some specialist tools.  These funds are also helping to enable new mini projects to get started now that students are back at school and in the garden.

“Utterly Amazing!  Beyond my expectations!  The garden is a wonderful space for all who come in and is clearly so beneficial for the young gardeners.  I was shown around by two very enthusiastic guides.”

Guest at Garden Open Day

 

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Tree sculpture

“Taking care of the garden reminds me to take care of myself.”

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“Going in the garden can really help calm me down – I can help out or just relax.”

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“Connecting with people makes me feel happy and less lonely.”

“I wrote a letter to my grandpa and put it on the bereavement tree, and when I come to Eikon, I can feel close to him.”

“Seeing animals is a good distraction because it stops my negative thoughts.”

“As a practitioner, I’m thankful to see the young people taking part in the gardening and really taking ownership.”

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Get involved

Do you have green fingers?

We’re looking for adult volunteers to help us a weekly garden clubs, or to provide ad-hoc help to maintain the garden. If you’re interested, please contact schools@eikon.org.uk for more information.

Can you help your community in another way?

We have a range of other volunteering opportunities, click here to find out more.

Want to help us support more young people with their wellbeing?

Click here to give a gift – any sized donation will help make a positive difference to a young person’s life.

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Meet Surrey Heath Youth Council – the youth group making positive change for young people in Surrey Heath

What is SHYC?

Surrey Heath Youth Council (SHYC) is a local youth group set up and previously supported by Eikon, that works to improve the lives of young people in the area and represent their voices on a variety of social issues.

We work on a range of different local projects throughout the year based on positively impacting young people, sometimes working with different local councilors to ensure youth voice is heard. We vote different members in to run different aspects of the group, such as a group Chair and an email manager.

“I joined SHYC because I wanted to help make a change in my community. I also wanted something to put on applications for things.”

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Surrey Heath Youth Council poster

What do you get out of SHYC?

We recently completed a survey to measure the impact of SHYC on our members. We found out that…

  • Overall the group felt 75% more empowered to make a difference to our community since joining SHYC
  • 100% of us felt that SHYC has helped us make new friends
  • 78% of us felt SHYC has given us the opportunity to connect to a community of young people
  • 67% of us felt SHYC provided us with a safe space to talk outside of school
  • 67% of us felt SHYC supported us to develop our transferable skills for the future
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Children cycling

What do you enjoy most about SHYC?

“It’s fun and we achieve meaningful change that benefits young people”

“socialising and making friends”

“helping the community”

“It’s great and I’ve been able to talk to people of all ages without getting worried”

“I like how we are mostly independent”

 

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Children at aqua park

What are some of the projects SHYC work on?

Our most recent project has been a cycling project in which we conducted a survey with over 300 responses and worked with local councilor Paul Deach.

We are also doing a mental health project, which involves making a leaflet about social media posts spreading information about mental health for young people including:

  • mental health in general
  • ideas to look after your mental health, and
  • the mental health experiences of certain groups.

One of our biggest projects was the TEDxYouth@SurreyHeath event we hosted in July 2021 at Camberley Theater. The event consisted of five speakers talking about a range of topics like unconscious bias as well as living independently and mental health. The speakers were from a range of organisations including Surrey Pride, Children’s Cap and Fearless Outreach. We had a live audience and a YouTube stream with over 200 views to date. Through the event we inspired local young people, recruited new members and got good publicity for the group! You can watch the event here.

To find out more about SHYC, go to our website and follow our social media pages:

Facebook icon    Twitter icon   Instagram icon

Written by Surrey Heath Youth Council

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Mental health leaflet

Supporting Students with EikOnline

The last 10 months have been extremely challenging for teachers and students alike.  The recent announcement of another national lockdown has shown that we still have far to go before we see any sense of normality.

Some young people have struggled to adapt to the changes imposed on their everyday lives by the coronavirus pandemic.  Long spells confined to their homes, living rooms doubling up as classrooms and playgrounds, no physical interaction with their peers; it’s no wonder that 80% of respondents in a survey carried out by Young Minds (July 2020) said the pandemic had made their mental health worse.  The long nights, reduced daylight and colder weather that comes with winter will only make things harder.

This is why youth club services such as EikOnline – The Eikon Charity’s virtual youth club – are needed. More than just a place to hang out, there are many benefits to joining a youth club.

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Virtual youth clubs

So what are the benefits? 

 

  • Increased wellbeing : by having an outlet to express their emotions and getting the support needed to manage their concerns, young people will become less anxious.  This prevents them from becoming disengaged from the environments they used to frequent (including school), promotes better sleep and allows them to concentrate on school work
  • Improved confidence and self-esteem: our youth workers have put together an extensive schedule that promotes traits such as confidence, self-love and self-awareness. It also sets them up to be resilient should any further restrictions be imposed
  • Sparks creativity and introduces new interests: the weekly Instagram challenges and creative workshops will inspire young people and may widen their interests with the introduction of new hobbies
  • Provides a safe space online: while there are concerns about the amount of screen time young people are now faced with, alongside the general dangers of social media, EikOnline have put measures in place to provide a safe, secure and engaging age-appropriate experience
  • Supports parents: by providing a modern, innovative, youth-centred provision, parents are provided with a suitable and sustainable activity to engage their children.  Drop- in parent hubs are also coming soon as a part of our offer to ensure a holistic, reflective service

So if you’d like to see the young people you work with bask in the benefits mentioned above, tell them about EikOnline! Signing up is easy:

  1. Download and complete the consent form
  1. Return it to eikonline@eikon.org.uk
  1. Wait for the link to the session then join at the scheduled time.

All updates, including our weekly schedule, can be found on our website or Instagram and Facebook pages.

Eikon News – Summer 2020

In our first full update since September and with the school year ending, we take a look at how the unprecedented events of recent months have affected children and young people and The Eikon Charity’s work with them.

Lockdown has been very hard for children and especially those who were already struggling – with learning, relationships or mental health. Teachers, psychologists and neuroscientists have warned of the risks of young people being isolated from their peers for such a long time.

And although this last month has seen some progress towards a return to life as it was before lockdown, things may yet get harder for children as the full financial and social impact of the crisis hits families and communities. There is also the risk of a second wave of Covid-19.

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Group of school children with their teacher

In recent months we’ve seen a spike in referrals of children with worsening mental health. We take this extremely seriously. Not only is this an awful thing for a young person to go through, affecting every area of their life, in some cases it can lead to serious self-harm and suicide attempts.

The number of children and young people presenting at accident and emergency departments of Surrey hospitals following attempted suicide has increased in the last three months. Tragically, suicide is the leading cause of death in children aged 5-19.

 

How we’re responding

 

We know that prevention and early intervention are by far the most effective ways to work. That’s why we dedicate so much effort to working with children and young people before – or as soon as concerns arise. But we’re also actively prioritising referrals of children waiting for support from statutory mental health services.

And throughout the crisis we’ve been making every effort to support children and young people remotely with issues relating to their education, family and friends, and their emotional wellbeing – through welfare phone calls, messages and a new virtual youth club.

 

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We now plan to expand our digital delivery and are delighted to announce that we have secured funding for our Surrey Virtual Youthwork project that will enable us to reach out to more children and young people safely.  The £100,000 Coronavirus Community Support Fund government grant, distributed by the National Lottery Communities Fund, will also leave a lasting legacy of improved digital capabilities that will benefit children and young people beyond the life of the project.

Last month we started a consultation with schools on how we can best support them through and out of the crisis.  The number of schools responding was very encouraging.  Results of this analysis of schools’ needs will feed into our plans for the autumn term and beyond.

“Eikon’s Youth Specialist Sarah has continued to provide emotional support via 1:1 phone check-ins and lunch clubs to our most vulnerable children during lockdown.  This has been a critical lifeline for some who are very isolated.”

Anna Wallis, Vice Principal, Kings College Guildford

As a founding member of the Surrey Wellbeing Partnership – a group of voluntary sector organisations working together to help improve the wellbeing of Surrey children, young people and families – we’re working to influence the shape of preventative and early intervention support.

We want children and young people to have a choice in the kinds of emotional wellbeing services they can access, and to get access sooner – before a concern can become a crisis.

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Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health

 

Eikon’s approach and services are embedded at the heart of the Surrey Wellbeing Partnership’s bid to commissioners of emotional wellbeing and mental health services for children and young people in Surrey. We will know by the autumn how successful we’ve been and what specific preventative and early intervention services Eikon will be delivering on behalf of the NHS and Surrey County Council.

Those services form part of our overall offer to children, young people, their parents & carers, schools and community groups across the county – a lifeline for children that we’re only able to offer thanks to gifts and grants from generous supporters.

Child Mental Health Appeal

 

We have launched an appeal for funds to help us do even more to support children who are struggling but unable to access services or facing lengthy delays to get help.

 

Challenge Events

 

Motivating us all – young or old, to get and stay physically and mentally fit, whilst also supporting children who need us, we had a very successful 2.6 Challenge in the spring, raising over £5,000.

With fundraising events such as RideLondon being cancelled and the London Marathon being postponed, to make up for the lost donations we have now also launched Eikon’s own challenge event: iCan100.  Aimed at hikers, runners, cyclists and swimmers, participants can attempt 100 miles solo or as part of a team, raising awareness of Eikon’s work – and much-needed funding.

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The impact of lockdown on wellbeing

Eleven weeks into lockdown, The Eikon Charity’s Chief Executive, Chris Hickford, explains how we’ve responded to the serious challenges that the Covid-19 crisis has created for us – and how we’re now gearing up to handle a substantial increase in demand as a result of the deterioration in the emotional wellbeing and mental health of many children and young people.

This is the most challenging period in Eikon’s history. Thanks to the commitment of individuals and grant making organisations supporting us – and the dedication of Eikon staff and volunteers, we’re still here, and able to support children and young people through this crisis.

We decided early on to divide our management of the crisis and its impact into three phases – response, recovery and reconstruction, so that we could plan effectively for each.

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Coronavirus

The Response Phase

 

Within one week of the start of lockdown, all our services were reconfigured to directly support children and young people remotely by phone and messaging apps and we were busy setting up a virtual youth club.

We also made our resilience resources available to schools digitally free of charge, and are helping them prioritise wellbeing now – and over the next academic year. Students are feeling less anxious about their return to school thanks to the support they’ve received during lockdown.

The Eikon team has shown real passion, dedication, creativity and care as they’ve pursued new ways to connect with children they support, focusing on those children and young people most at risk or in need of our help.

We remain very concerned though for a significant number of children and young people who are isolated in very difficult circumstances. This is reflected in a recent survey by mental health charity YoungMinds, in which 83% of children with mental health needs said that the pandemic had made their conditions worse.

Among those disproportionately affected by Covid-19 are BAME communities. Already fighting racism, discrimination and social and economic inequalities among other things, we are particularly concerned for the emotional wellbeing of children and young people in these families. Other groups at increased risk include LGBT+ young people, children in unsafe environments, and young carers.

We will continue to go the extra mile to reach and support as many children and young people as we can. But as we do so we’re mindful of the impact on our staff of the increase in workloads, complexity and emotional strain. Some Eikon staff are juggling this work with their own childcare challenges as schools have been closed. It has been a tough time for us.

Recovery Phase

 

There is now light at the end of the tunnel, with some lockdown restrictions easing, but it’s as we start to recover that the impact of the crisis is likely to start to show more fully. Some young people will be experiencing grief, anxiety, fear of failure and concern about their future prospects. Some will have parents separating as a result of the crisis.

Those hardest hit by lockdown and who have had depression or anxiety in the past, are more susceptible to deterioration in their emotional wellbeing and mental health. We are fully expecting a substantial increase in demand as a result.

In response to this we are in talks with a range of partners and are trying to raise an additional £600,000 to recruit new staff to support an additional 2,000 children and young people. We are leading this effort and working closely with the NHS, Surrey County Council (SCC) and our school and community partners to be ready by September.

Grant funding for our existing work has been very hard to secure, despite an outstanding effort by our part-time grant fundraiser. Most grant makers have prioritised physically vulnerable groups and immediate “practical” responses to the crisis, rather than children’s wellbeing and mental health.

The economic crisis has meant that individual donors are concerned about their jobs, savings and investments, and we’re discovering that there is uncertainty around their pledges. Our community fundraising has also suffered with the cancellation or postponement of several events.

We are deeply concerned about the combined impact of all of this on our ability to respond to the needs of a growing number of children who need us. We are working very hard to avoid redundancies, because we know that as we emerge for this crisis, Eikon’s staff will be inundated with requests for help from young people and their families.

We will continue to campaign for more focus on and funding for children and young people. If there is anything at all that you can do to help, please get in touch.

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Reconstruction Phase

 

The longer-term picture will continue to be characterised by scarce resources and lack of finances, but also by new values and new ways of doing things. We believe that greater importance will be put on health and mental health as further evidence of need emerges.

We envisage that there will also be a new appreciation of families and friends, a greater desire for fairness and social justice and more concern for key workers and how they are looked after. We will continue to promote the benefits of volunteering, neighbourliness and community spirit.

I know you care deeply about children and young people facing difficulties and Eikon’s mission to be there for them. I hope this has been a helpful update and thank you once again for all you do to make this possible.

I continue to wish you and your loved ones well, and I look forward to hearing from you or even seeing you again soon.

Chris Hickford, Chief Executive

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