Many of us growing up, had lady luck on our sides and breezed through the teenage years, landing ourselves a great job with excellent future prospects. But not everyone has it that easy. Imagine feeling completely alone, confused, like no one understands you, but worst of all not having anyone that you can turn to. 

Some of us might have stumbled across a problem, leaving us too embarrassed to turn to parents or carers for advice. Not everyone has a supporting group of peers who can offer a listening ear, or perhaps it’s a problem that your best friend simply couldn't help you with. The world can seem a very scary place and knowing who to ask for help is often the first hurdle.

There are many young people who slip between the criteria for main stream support and it is often easy for these people to struggle on, often completely unnoticed. There is, however, light in the darkness for those who seek it. Suffolk Young People's Health Project (Also known as 4YP) is a local charity that aims to support and guide young people in the county. Some young people might have already touched upon a service run by 4YP at some point and not even realised who was behind it.

Offering confidential and free support to 12-25 year olds, 4YP is a valuable service to those who need it. Working in the community, they provide a drop in centre so that young people can reach help whenever they need it. 

The drop in centre is a place to simply meet other young people, make a hot drink, check your email and even do your laundry in a safe and welcoming environment. Young people can gain access to fundamental advice on issues such as life skills, housing and benefits. There are also sexual health clinics run by fully qualified nurses who offer screenings and advice, as well as drugs and alcohol services, and short term counselling for those who require emotional support.

4YP even has a reused clothes store with outfits that are suitable for job interviews, giving young people the confidence and support they need in finding employment and achieving personal independence.

We spoke to Karl who works for Suffolk Young Peoples Health Service and found out more about the charity and the projects they run.

Can you tell us when 4YP was established?

The concept of a ‘one stop shop’ and outreach model of support, addressing the health and wellbeing of local young people, was born from the ‘Which Way Forward’ conference in 1996. In addition to being attended by over 100 representatives from statutory and voluntary organisations, young people themselves informed of the main health issues facing young people in the county.  It was from here that Suffolk Young People’s Health Project (also known as 4YP) was established, officially, in December 2000.

What are the main aims of the 4YP?

We provide and co-ordinate services that aim to improve the social, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing of young people in Suffolk, aged 12-25.  In 2013-14, we supported over 12,000 contacts.

Wide-ranging services address the issues for which young people tell us they need support.  By doing this, we intervene to help stop problems from getting worse, or prevent them developing altogether. Our support enables young people to lead healthier, safer lifestyles.  They develop important life and social skills, and gain the knowledge required to make informed decisions.

With our help, young people become more resilient and better communicators. We aim to reduce incidents of risk-take and harmful behaviour. By supporting their emotional wellbeing, young people’s confidence improves and they develop aspirations.  They are prepared for accessing more and better opportunities, and to embark on pathways to education, employment, and volunteering.

How will donations through iStreet help and how important are these donations?

As a medium-sized charity, all community-based support is incredibly important to us.

We really like how easy it is for people to get involved with iStreet!  The donations it generates will help us pay the unavoidable expenses that underpin our essential services. Whereas grant-givers may be happy to fund projects, not many help with core costs such as utility bills (heat, light, rent, etc.).  For this reason, iStreet can help make a big difference, making our work possible.

What does the future hold for 4YP?

We are working hard to continue the vital work we do, in supporting the health and wellbeing of young people in Suffolk. We envisage continuing what we are doing, but more of it; supporting a greater number of young people, meeting the ever-increasing demand for support.

Continued success of the charity will see us grow and develop further in the future, in particular responding to the need not supported by services elsewhere.

With this incredible support available, we are certain that the future for those young people looks as bright as 4YP's. If you want to contact 4YP, you can do so by visiting their website here, follow them on Twitter or even give them a call on 01473 252607.