Mental health charity Mind has opened a wellness service for young people in Kingston this month.
The youth area hub, a partnership between South West London CCG, Kingston Borough Council, Richmond Borough Mind and Mind in Kingston, welcomes young people aged 12-25 to chat with support workers, relax or attend free workshops.
Marisca Ribeiro, the hub’s senior support worker, said the organizations recognize the current lack of support for young people and children, as there are only limited services in Richmond and almost none in Kingston.
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Health and Care Plan 2019-2021 pointed out that the average mental wellbeing score of 15-year-olds in the borough was ranked fourth worst in London.
Ribeiro said: “What is important is that young people have the resilience and the tools to lead healthy lives and develop their potential.
“The Youth Zone Hub seeks to be a way for young people in Richmond and Kingston to do just that.”
Marisca Ribeiro and her colleagues began receiving visitors in early February for what is expected to be a six-month pilot project.
“It’s a chance to find out what young people in Kingston and Richmond want for their mental and emotional health,” she explained.
She added that the hub was part of a larger pilot project, with plans to also include NHS health services and the building job centre, aimed at providing young people with a one-stop service.
“If the pilot is successful and demonstrates a clear need and is having an impact, then hopefully the funding will continue,” she said.
Youth Zone operates as a drop-in service where young people are invited to come and chat with Marisca Ribeiro or one of the three other support workers who work there, or simply charge their computer or phone and socialize.
The hub has also launched classes and workshops such as Mindfulness with Clay and Stress Reduction, for which reservations are required.
However, Ribeiro said they count on the youngsters to bring their own ideas.
“We don’t really want to be the ones deciding what those activities are.
“We need young people to come forward to tell us what they want to happen,” she said.
By welcoming visitors from a wide age range, the guide explained that he wants to be as inclusive as possible, and the hub can offer activities and exchanges adapted to each age, but also to people with different needs.
“It’s as much about addressing social isolation and loneliness as it is about supporting people with low to moderate anxiety and depression,” she said.
Ribeiro encouraged people intimidated by a first visit or unsure if the service is right for them to call or email the hub.
She said: “Going to a new place can be difficult, especially if you’re alone, but the hub team know that and will do their best to help you feel welcome and safe.”
Regarding her hopes for the future of the Youth Zone, she said: “That we get the word out to more young people and that they come and shape the hub according to their needs. It’s really for them.”
Youth Zone is open Tuesday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
It is located on the 1st floor of the Old House, Central Kingston, KT1 1JS.
To use the main service, young people are invited to introduce themselves.
Classes or activities are free but reservation is required.
Telephone: 07568 227 688
E-mail: [email protected]
People struggling with their mental health can call the Mind Helplines:
Richmond: 020 3137 9590
Kingston: 020 8255 3939
Richmond Borough Mind and Mind in Kingston are affiliated with National Mind.
They also work with schools, colleges and universities to run workshops and raise awareness about mental health.