Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone has been handed nearly £400,000 to help with the wellbeing of young people in the borough.

The National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund aims to bring people together to 'build strong relationships across communities'.

The funds are part of £122m awarded over the last three months by the National Lottery to more than 2,500 charities and community groups in England.

The Reaching Communities fund will provide £399,157 over the next four years, to 'enhance its emotional health and wellbeing service'. It will also fund the development of a new diversity emotional health and wellbeing ‘toolkit’.

Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone said it has provided emotional health and wellbeing support alongside its conventional youth services since its formation in 2012. 

Chief Executive of Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone, Hannah Allen said: “We are delighted to receive support from Reaching Communities to enhance our Health and Wellbeing programmes. 

"This will enable us to continue our journey towards developing a fully integrated emotional health and wellbeing service for the borough. I believe that this is the principal challenge of our time. 

"The youth sector has a unique contribution to make in supporting our young people's emotional wellbeing, and we are determined to play our part in this. Since the pandemic, safeguarding concerns have increased by 223 %, so the need has never been more urgent. 

"We are trusted advocates for our young people, and this places us in a unique position to support their emotional wellbeing and help them progress toward an exciting and purposeful future full of opportunity.”

Recent research released by the charity OnSide highlighted why support for young people was critical.

Generation Isolation in partnership with YouGov highlighted that 49% of young people across the North West region report high or very high levels of anxiety.

In addition 68% of young people are concerned about the cost of living, and many are living isolated lives with 51% spending most of their free time at home and 78% spending most of their free time on screens.