Local charity provides vital support for young people

12th April 2021

This year was supposed to be one of celebration for the acclaimed charity, Waltham Abbey Youth 2000, but it became one of the most challenging ever since it was set up 26 years ago.

The Coronavirus pandemic meant that instead of celebrating the landmark anniversary the charity, which provides a wide range of services for young people and their families, had to close down its facilities including its youth clubs and parent drop-in sessions.

But, thanks to a grant from our Coronavirus Response and Recovery Programme and support from other organisations, Waltham Abbey Youth 2000 has been able to continue its vital counselling service for young people, which has been needed more than ever. Until lockdown, the service was based at the local secondary school.

Elaine Fletcher, chairman of trustees for Waltham Abbey Youth 2000 said: “Our counsellor, Angie Pearson, who has been with us for the past 21 years, had to double her hours because of the huge increase in demand. She set up a programme to work from home to keep in touch with vulnerable young people of the town who were having to cope with all the stresses of lockdown.

“More than 1,700 contacts have been made with young people and their parents/carers.  Angie developed booklets for the young people to record their thoughts and feelings about COVID-19, to keep them motivated and help provide a sense of achievement. She put into action activities to keep their sense of aspiration alive and also promoted the ideas of relaxation and exercise.”

One of the young people helped by the counselling service said: “The weekly contact helped me cope and stopped me going crazy at times.”

Over the years Waltham Abbey Youth 2000 has received many accolades and last year was one of 23 organisations in Essex to be nominated for a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Elaine said: “2020, which should have been the year of celebration for our 25th anniversary, was and still is a huge challenge. We have had to provide an increased counselling service as demand did not reduce at the start of the school year, and the latest lockdown continued to have a negative impact on young people and their families.”

“We are very fortunate to have received support, including the grant from Essex Community Foundation. Looking to the future, and with restrictions slowly easing, we are determined to establish a homework club and to re-start our very popular cookery clubs. We will also be running our parent drop-in facility when we can, as this has proved such a help to so many people.

“Waltham Abbey has a history of being quite a deprived area, but we know that with the right support the young people of the town and their families can attain so much more.”