Take a look inside

Take a Look Inside...

We’d love to show you around a local Youth Zone, allowing you to see for yourself the impact that these centres make. Simply fill in your details below and a member of the team will be in touch to arrange a visit.

Take a Virtual Tour

I agree to my data being kept in accordance with the Privacy Policy.

Please keep me updated on OnSide news and updates by email, post, SMS, phone or other electronic means. OnSide will always treat your personal details with the utmost care and will never sell them to other companies for marketing purposes.


Mental Health Advocacy in Youth Work

22nd February 2024 by Rosealla Williams, Wellbeing Worker, Legacy Youth Zone

I’m passionate about being an ambassador for mental health as it’s something that’s personal to me with members of my own family facing challenges with their mental health. I do my best to learn as much as I can, I’m trained as a Mental Health First Aider, as well as trained to support young people with their wellbeing through informal mentoring and coaching and supporting young people to identify goals and something to work towards.

In my role as Legacy Wellbeing Youth Worker, I have one-to-one conversations with young people to get an idea of their personal situation, developing tailored support and development plans for young people, often with multiple layers. To do this, I use OnSide’s evaluation system, the MeApps, which is a short online form with 6 questions. Through positive conversations, young people get to a point where they rate themselves between one and five in several areas including self-confidence, social skills, physical health and mental wellbeing. I complete the questionnaire with them at different points throughout the year, so we can monitor changes over time which also helps with the directions of the individual plans.

Part of what I do is to create a safe space for young people to be able to share how they are, how school’s going, if life at home is ok. Though it may only sometimes be a five-minute conversation, they share a lot and will come to me with anything and everything. I speak to young people all over the Youth Zone, from all activity rooms to the rec, I find the Wellbeing Room is a great space where they can chill with their friends. Some really good conversations are had there. They can have a laugh, a joke, a cry, share worries big and small – we support them with whatever they bring to the table.

Young people need to be heard on issues impacting them, from junior members to seniors – they have a voice and valid opinions to share. They need to have us as their voices as well, advocating for their rights. The team of youth workers at Legacy is well trained and has the knowledge to support any young person. We get to know our members so well that we can tell from their body language and behaviour if something isn’t right with them. If a young person is normally bubbly and chatty but suddenly, they’re quiet and sitting in a corner, I’ll ask questions to find out what’s going on and be a presence as someone they know they can talk to.

School and exams are things that are really affecting young people. This is the cohort that was impacted by the lockdowns, and they simply don’t feel ready. When mock exam results were posted recently, sadly the majority of those I’ve spoken to didn’t do very well. They’re now getting pressure from their schools, pressure from home. Exam stress is a big deal for them right now, and we do what we can to support them through things like revision clubs.

Cyber bullying is another rampant problem that’s impacting young people’s mental health. The anonymity that people have online is scary, people can post whatever without consequences. It’s so important that we teach young people to be safe when online, making sure they know how to responsibly use the internet, we have those conversations here at the Youth Zone.

Physical safety is also impacting young people’s mental health, hearing in the news what’s happening in communities. The whole of Croydon was moved by the tragic killing of a 15-year-old girl in September of last year and a recent surge in street robberies. It’s concerning to them, but we work to reassure them that in Legacy they have a safe place to go and trusted and skilled youth workers to talk to.

I love what I do, but we sometimes deal with challenging issues which can take its toll. As youth workers, we want to show up and be there for young people the best we can, it’s so important that we look after our own mental health. Some things I do is to speak with my colleagues and I make sure I make time to reflect and step back when needed and take a breather. Outside of work I spend lots of time with my friends and very big family!

At Legacy we have seen an increase in the number of concerns being raised. Whilst we have between 10 and 15 youth workers on every sessions, depending on the space they’re often engaged in leading activities like football, dance classes etc. My role is different, as I’m not allocated to a specific room or area. This allows me to be present, be seen and be approached, and means I can be there to support young people as soon as they enter the building. I can support them at their point of need and a great resource to support other staff too when dealing with challenging safeguarding situations. I’ve been able to build meaningful relationship with parents and carers too, meaning Legacy is fully recognised as a support platform in a young person’s holistic framework.

The Wellbeing Worker project is being delivered at Blackburn, Croydon, Oldham, and Wigan Youth Zone thanks to funding provided by the Prudence Trust’

Useful links

Sign Up to the onside newsletter

If you'd like to keep updated by email on news and events from the OnSide network fill in your details below and we will add you to our mailing list.