St Albans youth counselling charity launches Christmas campaign

Mia Arundel is an ambassador for Youth Talk in St Albans. Picture: Supplied

Mia Arundel is an ambassador for Youth Talk in St Albans. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

A counselling charity has launched a festive fundraising campaign to help more young people across the St Albans district.

It is hoped that Youth Talk’s Christmas awareness initiative will raise £5,000 towards running its service for 13-25 year olds.

The charity revealed that the number of counselling sessions it provides has increased from around 60 sessions a week to more than 80 since the beginning of the pandemic.

There are three ways you can get involved in this year’s campaign. You can light up their virtual Christmas tree and leave a message and make a donation online, hold your own fundraising initiative to raise money or put up festive decorations in a window of your home.

One of the charity’s ambassadors, Mia Arundel, 19, explained she became involved with Youth Talk after personally receiving privately funded talking therapy.

Her parents paid for her therapy when she felt she was let down by local mental health support services, but she passionately feels that young people cannot and should not have to pay £70 an hour for for counselling.

Consequently, when Mia found out about Youth Talk, she approached the board to see if she could get involved in helping to shape the service. She said that she feels that young people volunteering for Youth Talk are given the opportunity to make big decisions including a recent rebranding project, and advise the leadership on certain aspects of operations.

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Mia said: “Offering confidential support for young adults is so important nowadays. So many people feel they cannot trust adults and services such as CAMHS. I went through hell with my mental health. I got excluded from school and arrested which led me to finally getting the support that I needed. I think if I had found a talking intervention service earlier, my life could have been very different.

“I find it so sad that someone has to get to crisis point before they get help.”

Mia explained what she thinks Youth Talk offers service users: “A safe place for young people to go? Is there anything more important than that? Please donate to help more people like me.”

Chief executive of Youth Talk David Barker said: “Our festive fundraising campaign will help us to raise vital funds to continue to provide the lifeline that growing numbers of young people need. There are lots of festive fun ways to get involved so please do help us to make a difference this Christmas.

“Without someone to talk to it can often feel impossible to cope. We are determined that every young person has a safe place to talk in confidence, whatever’s on their mind.”

The campaign comes off the back of a recent Youth Talk survey in which they quizzed 1,500 young people about their experiences of mental health.

The survey found:

- Nearly 70 per cent of young people would want to talk to someone if they regularly felt sad, stressed, anxious or scared.

- Barriers to talking about how they were feeling included that it would be too personal or embarrassing (51 per cent),

a feeling that they should be able to sort the problem out for themselves (40 per cent) and being unsure if their worry was important enough (32 per cent).

The most important considerations for young people are:

- confidentiality of the conversation (67 per cent)

- that they won’t be judged (63 per cent)

- that the person they talk to will help until they feel better 46 per cent.

Youth Talk’s recent rebranding, which includes the strapline ‘We’re listening’, was developed in partnership with local young people as a vital part in the next stages of the charity’s development.

The charity is now urging residents to get involved in their Christmas campaign so they can continue to be there for young people who need support at this challenging time.

Further information can be found at