The Princes Trust Youth Index has been tracking young people’s confidence and happiness for 10 years now. During this time young people’s confidence in themselves and their future has taken a tumble.

The Index tracks happiness and confidence across a range of areas, and in all but two areas, home/accommodation and qualifications, confidence is higher than happiness. As an indicator of safety and confidence in their futures, this is pretty telling. Digging a bit deeper, the same data shows a correlation between young people’s circumstances and their overall index score. Those not in education, employment or training (NEET), with lower academic attainment and in receipt of free school meals have significantly less happiness and confidence.

How does this translate for young people in Bristol? 

Bristol City Council data from 2017/18 shows that:

  • one in five children under 16 live in low income families (compared to the national average of 17%),
  • 28% of pupils are disadvantaged with lower average attainment at 16 by over 10 percentage points compared to their more advantaged peers. 
  • just over three in 10 young people go on to Higher Education compared to nearly 38% across England.
  • nearly one in 10 16-17 year olds were NEET, compared to the national average of 6%.

Over 10 years average house prices in Bristol have increased by over £100,000, a third more than the average in England and Wales, and a ‘housing affordability ratio’ that is the highest of all the English Core Cities. All this in a place which has one of the fastest growing populations of young people in the UK.

Bristol is blessed with a growing collective potential of young people. We are not a city that is dying from old age, but are we a city maximising our future opportunities by unleashing this potential by enabling all young people to achieve?

We live in what the US military has termed a ‘VUCA’ world. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are the reality with which young people are growing up. This is further exacerbated by growing up in the fishbowl that is social media, with 57% of young people saying that this creates an overwhelming pressure to succeed, often comparing themselves to others in ways that make them feel inadequate. 

What makes young people happy? 

Overwhelmingly spending time with family and friends. This makes perfect sense. Relationships matter, and continuity of relationship matters more. Non-judgmental and supportive relationships are the rock upon which young people can rely on.   

Studies show how crucial it is that when young people develop relationships with professionals (teachers, health professionals, youth workers) these can have significantly impact, especially through periods of change and transition - for example, when moving schools or changing carers. 

This is what youth work is all about - youth workers being there, having developed strong relationships based on trust, means when family relationships break down or go through rough patches, young people are not left alone. 

Join us in supporting young people to be safe and confident in their future: 

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