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Friday, November 6, 2020

Young People and Desistance from Crime

Within the Criminal Justice System, a key focus is reducing reoffending and encouraging desistance from crime. There are various organisations and different approaches to reach this goal. However, an area that needs further development is with regards to the specific needs of different age groups, such as the 18-25 age group. Research needs to explore whether or not there are specific needs and requirements that the 18-25 age cohort have in order to promote desistance and increase the chance that reoffending will be avoided. Furthermore, research should also examine current programmes and procedures which work with release and resettlement in an attempt to identify good practice and highlight areas that could benefit from change. Specifically, recommendations for future research include addressing the following questions:

  1. Are community services and prison programmes successful in rehabilitation? If so, how successful are they? 

  2. How much do community services and prison services reduce reoffending, individually and comparatively? 

  3. Would community services benefit with more funding and is there evidence that funding cuts have the potential to result in increased reoffending? 

  4. What is the more effective type of support that helps prevent the 18-25 age cohort from reoffending? 

  5. According to service providers, what are the primary causes of reoffending for the 18-25 age cohort? (i.e. education, employment, accommodation). 

We welcome comments from readers and encourage practitioners to share their opinions and experiences with regards to answering these questions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Young People and Coronavirus: Recovery


Recovery and Young People

By Alex Guy

Young people born between 1990 and 2005 have already experienced two major global shocks within the first 15-30 years of their life – the financial crisis of 2007/08 and the Covid pandemic. Many organisations have been trying to explain the importance of having a recovery plan that is inclusive to all ages, especially the young people that will be dealing with a multitude of aftershocks from this pandemic as they go into further education or employment. One recovery plan suggestion by The Children’s Society includes how grades will be viewed by further education organisations such as universities, as well as additional mental health support for the age group. Youth led organisations have been active in building recovery plans in partnership with the government to ensure their inclusion. For example, the British Youth Council is urging the government to create a Minister for Young People to bring the voice of youth into policymaking. Moreover, half of mental ill health starts by age 15, and 75% develops by age 18, which highlights the vulnerability of this age group during a period when mental illness is high. Before lockdown, suicide was the third leading cause of death in 15-19-year olds, and with increased uncertainty, anxiety and fear, there may be worrying increases in this number. Focus needs to be placed on youths as part of the recovery plan for the Covid pandemic to ensure that they are not left behind, that they continue to receive opportunities to improve their futures, and to make sure that they are supported, especially surrounding mental health.

If you need any support about the issues discussed in this series, please contact citizens Advice or one of the organisations below. 

Support organisations:

Childline: Free, confidential advice for those up to 19 years old, call 0800 1111 to speak to an advisor.

Youthoria: Website run by Cambridgeshire Council for 11-19-year olds, advice from jobs, to education, to bullying:

Centre 33: Supporting young people up to the age of 25 with mental health, caring responsibilities, housing, sexual health and more.

Telephone: 0333 4141809

Text/whatsapp: 07514 783745


For more information:

  MHFA England:

Monday, October 12, 2020

Coronavirus and Young People: Youth Organisations


Youth Organisations and Coronavirus

By Alex Guy

Youth organisations play a crucial role in the daily lives and development of children throughout the world, and Covid represents an unprecedented challenge to keep these services and systems functioning.  During the pandemic, youth organisations have been providing access to education, peer to peer mental health advice and other programmes to support young adults in lockdown.

Between 20th -27th March 2020, UK Youth surveyed the needs of the youth sector and young people in the wake of Covid and its potential long-term impact. 252 respondents, representing 235 organisations completed the survey, and most respondents (88%) indicated they are likely or very likely to reduce service provision to young people. 31% said that staff redundancies were likely while 17% said permanent closure was likely. 64% of respondents said that they were likely to lose sources of funding. Moreover, 72% of respondents said that their organisation needs access to emergency funds to support organisational needs to aid young people during and after the pandemic. There have, however, been attempts to engage with young people virtually, with 86% indicating that they were doing so or were planning to do so, where possible. This, however, is not available to children without computers or internet access, who may desperately need the support.

Multiple countries have created online campaigns to keep young people informed of the measures to protect themselves and others, such as the international campaign #youthagainstcovid19 to map and share myth-busting, fact-checking websites and resources. This is useful in keeping young people knowledgeable but may also help with keeping them involved with recovery plans.



If you need any help with the issues discussed in this series, please contact Citizens Advice

For more information:

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Coronavirus and Young People: Education

 Education and Coronavirus

By Alex Guy

The global pandemic is also having an unprecedented impact on schools and universities all over the globe, with far-reaching social consequences that have affected more than 1.5 billion children and youth worldwide. According to UNESCO (2020), so far 191 countries have implemented nationwide or localized school closures. This has significantly changed how youth and children live and learn during the pandemic. Although schools have shown flexibility and commitment to continuing education through lockdown, not all students have been able to consistently access education, with surveys showing that across OECD countries, more than one in ten 15-year-olds from socio-economically disadvantaged schools do not have a quiet place to study at home or an internet connection, and one in five do not have access to a computer. Education can be key in accessing opportunities, such as a better career prospects, and with the limited access available and problems some children have in gaining access, they may lose these possibilities. After the confusion surrounding grading systems for A-level students, higher education establishments and their ability to keep the students safe has come under scrutiny.

The government has released guidance on how to safely open campuses in 2020/2021, including information on ventilation, face coverings and student accommodation. Furthermore, The University of Cambridge will offer weekly coronavirus tests to students, even if they have no symptoms, with routine screening being provided for about 16,000 people who live in college-owned accommodation, when term begins on 8 October. However, with student halls filling up, many are concerned about how safe universities truly are for young people.


If you need help with any of the topics discussed in this series, please contact Citizens Advice. 

For more information:

Monday, October 5, 2020

Young People and Coronavirus : Employment


Employment and Coronavirus

By Alex Guy

Employment for people of all ages has been drastically affected by Covid. However, youths are more likely to be in informal employment or forms of zero-hour contracts, making them more vulnerable to an economic downturn. Pre-Covid, British youths aged 15-24 were already three times more likely to be unemployed compared to adults, whilst 126 million young workers were in extreme and moderate poverty worldwide. The effects of Covid on employment levels can already be seen - in July 2020 537,700 people aged 16-24 claimed unemployment-related benefits, up 122% from March 2020 when the UK lockdown began. Moreover, new figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed just how hard job losses have hit Cambridge, with figures published in June showing there was 3,335 people claiming unemployment – related benefits in Cambridge in May 2020, which marks 142% increase on March 2020 when the country went into lockdown.  Estimations indicate that of the billion young people globally who will enter the job market in the next decade only 40% are expected to find jobs if the market remains the same.

We can learn from the impact of the 2007-2008 financial crisis which saw the number of youths not in employment, education or training rise to 18% and the number of unemployed young people increase by 20%, leaving one in eight young people (aged 18-25) in poverty. This can have significant impacts as young people with a history of unemployment face fewer career development opportunities, lower wage levels, poorer prospects for better jobs and ultimately lower pensions. So, the question is, what will happen to the 600 million young people that are expected to be unemployed over the next decade? 

If you need any help with any of the topics discussed in this series, please contact Citizens Advice. 

For more information:

Friday, October 2, 2020

Young People and Coronavirus: Special Series

 Young People and Coronavirus: Special Series

By Alex Guy


Covid-19 has affected almost every aspect of life, and young people, especially those who are vulnerable, face considerable challenges in education, employment, and mental health. Evidence suggests that young people are less at risk in terms of developing severe physical health symptoms linked to Covid but the disruption to their education and employment opportunities is likely to put them on a much more volatile trajectory in finding and maintaining quality jobs and income.

 The period of adolescence (from the onset of puberty until independent adulthood) covers a unique period of change during which young people can be particularly vulnerable to experiencing the kinds of social welfare problems that give rise to a need for advice[1].  Research by Youth Access has shown that young people aged under 25 are considerably less likely than the general population to access legal advice when they experience social welfare problems[2].  As well as being a key predictor of mental health problems in young people[3] the experience of problems can also lead to a loss of confidence, loss of income, physical illness and unemployment[4].  Advice and early intervention can have a huge positive impact on outcomes for young people by preventing the escalation of problems and saving resources and funds in the long term.   A study of clients of youth advice services found that 64% of those who received advice reported an improvement in their stress levels[5].

Post Covid, demand from under 25 year olds accessing our service increased three-fold, showing the increased need for support within this age group. Over the next week, we will share micro reports which summarise external research publications on how young people have been affected by coronavirus in areas such as employment, education, and access to youth organisations.



If you or anyone you know needs support, please contact Citizens Advice




  1Engaging Young People – Citizens Advice Tunbridge Wells & District 2019

  2Kenrick, J. Young People’s Access to Advice - the evidence, October 2009

  3Youth Access, The Social Determinants of Young People’s Mental Health, June 2015

  4Balmer, N.J., Pleasence, P. Young People & Legal Problems: Findings from the Legal Problem Resolution Survey 2014-2015, February 2018

  5Balmer, N.J., Pleasence, P. Young People & Legal Problems: Findings from the Legal Problem Resolution Survey 2014-2015, February 2018

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mental Health in Prison: Discussions Needed

Mental health still remains one of the most taboo subjects within modern society today; sufferers are often left feeling alone and marginalised. However, recent campaigns have come to public attention in order to tackle the very real issue. The same cannot be said for mental health within the prison system, very little is reported in terms of statistics and authorities tend to attempt to brush the issue under the carpet.
There is however a wealth of research regarding mental health and its dominance in the prison system. As a result, there is actually a shocking number of individuals who suffer with mental health issues. As many as 70% of the UK prison population has two or more mental health disorders (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004). The research also found that male prisoners were 14 times more likely to have two or more disorders, and women were a staggering 35 times more likely than the general population.
An article published in September by the Independent detailed the terrifying rise in prison suicides in the last year, with a percentage rise of 64%. As more individuals with mental health issues make their way into the prison system, both staff and facilities struggle to cope and prisoners suffer as a consequence.

There are several measures required in order to tackle the taboo subject, as well as practical legislation needed. At a grass roots level it is so necessary that we as a society accept the fact that people are affected by mental health. I would hope that most people are aware that 1 in every 4 people will be affected by a mental disorder in their life. This statistic alone is enough to see why so many prisoners mental health suffers. A high percentage of the prison population comes from areas of poverty, low employment, poor education and difficulties or violence at home, all these issues coupled together is a recipe for mental instability. Therefore encouraging people to recognise and acknowledge that something must be done in order to tackle this overwhelming issue is really important. Furthermore, the Prison Service introduced suicide and self-harm procedures almost a decade ago, perhaps it is time for a review of the measures considering the alarming rise in mental health related incidents, including better implementation of these procedures by all staff, as well as those trained specifically for the purpose of harm prevention.

On the other hand we should emphasise the fact that staff are able to ‘tackle the issue’ and save prisoners from harming themselves further everyday, and that perhaps despite the real negatives of an increase in those harming themselves due to mental health issues, there are many who are able to stabilise or overcome their difficulties and this is because of prison staff. It is so very important that we remember to praise those who are helping to rehabilitate prisoners every day and that this rise in mental health issues is because a lack of societal faith in our prison system can sometimes creep into the system itself.   

A. Ticehurst, B.A. (Hons) Criminology