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Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone awarded £399,157 to support local young people’s emotional health and wellbeing

Thanks to the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund, Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone will be increasing the support it gives local young people with their emotional health and wellbeing – thanks to a grant of £399,157!

The Reaching Communities fund aims to bring people together to build strong relationships in and across communities. It also aims to help more people reach their full potential by supporting them at the earliest stage. 

Recent research released by the charity OnSide highlights why this sort of support is so critical for young people. Generation Isolation in partnership with YouGov highlighted that 49% of young people across the North West region report high or very high levels of anxiety. In addition 68% of young people are concerned about the cost of living, and many are living isolated lives with 51% spending most of their free time at home and 78% spending most of their free time on screens.

This is part of an incredible £122 million awarded over the last three months by the National Lottery to over 2,500 charities and community groups in England.

Today’s funding announcement means Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone will be able to build on it’s support of young people’s mental health at what is a challenging time for young people. 

The Reaching Communities fund will provide £399,157 over the next four years, enabling the Youth Zone to enhance its emotional health and wellbeing service. It will also fund the development of a new diversity emotional health and wellbeing ‘toolkit’, which will be made available nationally and to all local partners.

The funding will enable Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone and their partners to receive annual mental health 1st aid training to ensure that the sector learns and grows together to benefit local young people.

Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone has provided emotional health and wellbeing support alongside its conventional youth services since its formation in 2012 and has built considerable expertise in this area. This proved essential during the COVID-19 pandemic when Youth Zone was challenged to provide emotional health and wellbeing support away from traditional face-to-face approaches and moved some of its services online.

As the world started its return to the new normal, the demand for this type of support increased tenfold, and the Youth Zone felt it must respond to this challenge. They introduced a new service, ‘Targeted Twilight’, and developed detailed support programmes in groups and on a one-to-one basis, enabling young people in crisis to make swift and rapid progress in their lives. Working in partnership with many local services, the Youth Zone has strengthened the borough-wide approach to supporting the most vulnerable children and young people.

In 2021, Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone launched their Youth employability Hub (Youth Hub) to support young people furthest from the job market. Many of these young people presented with multiple barriers to entering the world of work, with the majority struggling to cope with some type of mental health crisis. The charity’s experience in this area proved invaluable, and they have now supported nearly 1,000 local young people through the Targeted Twilight and Youth Hub services over the last two years alone.

Youth Zone has continued with referrals for both services taken from across the borough but recognised that there still existed a significant unmet need. Central to plans within their new five-year strategy is the evolution of their emotional health and wellbeing offer into a fully-fledged emotional health and wellbeing ‘Wellbeing Hub’, aimed at reaching into local communities and providing unprecedented levels of support.

To achieve this, additional funding was sought earlier this year to make this aspiration a reality. The National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund was an ideal partner in advancing Youth Zone’s ambitions. 

The National Lottery Funding Officer for East Lancashire was instrumental in advising and guiding Youth Zone as they evolved their proposal. With his help and that of many local youth sector partners, Youth Zone was able to stretch their ambition towards a longer-term, more sustainable service that will change how this type of support is provided in the future within and across the borough. 

Youth Zone’s ethos is to always work through the Power of Partnership, which is central to how they operate. System change is a long-term ambition to amplify the youth sector’s contribution in supporting young people to achieve positive mental health. 

This can only be delivered at scale in close collaboration with health partners across Lancashire. This ambition to bridge both clinical and youth work services is the system change that is desired, and the Reaching Communities funding brings the charity one step closer to achieving this.   

Hannah Allen, Chief Executive of Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone, said: 

“We are delighted to receive support from Reaching Communities to enhance our Health and Wellbeing programmes. This will enable us to continue our journey towards developing a fully integrated emotional health and wellbeing service for the borough. I believe that this is the principal challenge of our time. 

The youth sector has a unique contribution to make in supporting our young people’s emotional wellbeing, and we are determined to play our part in this. Since the pandemic, safeguarding concerns have increased by 223 %, so the need has never been more urgent. We are trusted advocates for our young people, and this places us in a unique position to support their emotional wellbeing and help them progress toward an exciting and purposeful future full of opportunity.”

We are currently recruiting for a Targeted Service Manager. If you are interested in applying, please visit