Our organisational member No5 Young People is celebrating its 50th birthday and says demand for its services has never been higher.

The Reading-based counselling service for young people reported a 197% increase in referrals between 2020 and 2021.

Alyson Wylding, psychotherapist and Director at No5 Young People, said: “What’s driving the demand is the anxiety of coming out of the lockdowns.

“That’s been harder for some young people than being in a lockdown and they’re quite nervous about it.


“They’re suddenly face-to-face, and it’s a completely different experience being in front of people. There’s a lot of anxiety.”

Carly Newman, Operations and Relationship Manager, added: “After the long lockdown periods, the returns to schools and everything that comes with that has been an issue.

“Coming out of lockdowns has brought on a tsunami of emotions for some young people.”

No5 Young People recently received £72,000 from its local clinical commissioning group to support the move to employing 10 specialist young people counsellors by 2024. The money will also support No5 to work with mental health support teams in schools.

And to help ease the demand and support good mental health, it’s running a series of online creative expressive workshops which use visual art to explore the challenges of lockdown and isolation and the consequences for young people.

They’ve also run Covid Conversation, for which young people are asked to bring something that helped them get through lockdown.

“We’re really trying to do some preventative stuff as well as our counselling service,” said Alyson.

Community hub

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, said: “Organisations like No 5 are such essential hubs to local communities, evolving to best meet the needs of children and young people.

“Although it’s hard to hear about increased waiting lists due to the rise in demand for counselling services, the additional support put in place offers a step care approach engaging with young people while they’re waiting, which hopefully makes their transition into counselling just that little bit easier.”

No5 Young People was established in 1971 and earlier this year was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

It recently contributed to a report by a coalition of more than 240 organisations, including BACP and No5, which found children and young people in England are still facing significant gaps in mental health support despite a steep rise in need.

Led by former Minister for Mental Health, Sir Norman Lamb, the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition Members’ Report  highlighted that mental health problems have been rising among children and young people, from a rate of one in nine in 2017 to one in six in 2021 while mental health support is not keeping pace.

Children and young people

Sir Norman Lamb, Coalition chair, said: “For too long, babies, children and young people have struggled to get the support they need with their mental health.

“We know that children and young people’s mental health is not improving, in fact it’s been deteriorating in recent years, and the pandemic has heightened the many challenges that young people face. We must not underestimate the severity of the situation.

“The recent Budget also missed a crucial opportunity for the Government to re-affirm their commitment to children and young people’s mental health and provide clarity for the future funding of mental health services.

“While we recognise the investment that has been made in mental health support, our members are calling out for real change in the children’s mental health system. We can no longer keep putting a sticking plaster on the wounds of an inadequate system.

“The Government frequently talk about levelling up and improving opportunity for all. Now is the opportunity to act on their commitment and be ambitious in creating a mental health system that works for all babies, children and young people.”