LoudBird PR and Communications capture the evening
Youth Talk celebrated our 25th anniversary with an event last week attended by guests including the local MP, the Mayor and Mayoress, the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire and many local business-people and supporters.
Our charity, which provides confidential and free counselling to young people in the St Albans area, was founded 25 years ago by Dr Ida Fairbairn, who believed there was a real need for a counselling system geared towards young people.
In recent years, this need has been increasing at an alarming rate, especially since the pandemic. At the event, which was hosted by St Albans School, CEO of Youth Talk, David Barker said that for the first time in the charity’s history the waiting list had recently topped 100 young people waiting for crucial mental health support from the charity. The number of counselling sessions we provided last year was over 4,300 – an increase of 32% on last year.
Youth Talk has an ambitious five year strategy to double its service provision and reach 20% more young people every year. We are looking to our local community to come together and help raise the vital funds needed to help more young people. At present, our local charity offers 80 – 100 counselling sessions a week and provides on average 18 one-to-one sessions per young person.
“We have an absolute mountain ahead of us to climb” says CEO David Barker. “But failure is not an option – local young people are relying on us”.
Other speakers at the event included Daisy Cooper MP, Rosie Ayres (a local young person who has had her own battles with mental health problems and who is now a volunteer for the charity), Youth Talk Trustee Dr David Hemsi, and Jackie Fowler, Youth Talk Chair of Trustees.
Jackie Fowler made a plea for support: “Youth Talk is unique in our area – a safe place any young person can come to for really in-depth expert counselling support,” she said, but “the waiting list is long, and demand is going up, so there is an urgent need to double the number of local young people we can help.”
Daisy Cooper MP for St Albans and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats shocked attendees when she revealed that she is regularly sent videos on social media of young people who are desperate for help, with nowhere to turn.
“Often, young people from St Albans will send me a video on Instagram. And they’re at home and it’s 11.30 at night, and they’re just crying, and crying and crying. They’re in crisis.… I can tell them to come to Youth Talk. I can signpost them. And I know that many of them have managed to contact Youth Talk and get the help that they need.”
Rachel Simkin, Fundraising Manager for the charity said they were very grateful for the support they receive from the people of St Albans, although there is an urgent need for more funding as the mental health crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Thanks so much to our supporters and especially to Jonathan Gillespie, Head at St Albans School who so generously hosted this event for us” said Rachel. “We would love to be able to help all those on our waiting lists more quickly, so need all the support we can get.”
Attendees at the event included: Ida Fairbairn (founder) Daisy Cooper MP, Mayor and Mayoress of St Albans City and District, High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Annie Brewster (Chairman of the Council), representatives from the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and St Albans Chamber of Commerce, Lawrence Levy (Chairman of St Albans City Football Club), Andrei Lussmann (Lussmanns Sustainable Kitchen), Jon and Natalie Stubbs (Heartwood Homes) and many more local business-people, along with representatives from schools, GPs, and Patrons.
Download Youth Talk’s 25th anniversary documents: