Charities that help disadvantaged young people cope with their chaotic lives have been selected for this year’s appeal. Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/Athena
For many young people in Britain the future looks bleak. The jobs market is tight, and affordable housing scarce. Cuts to public services and welfare benefits have impacted harshly on them and the communities they live in, while the prospect of increased tuition fees has made many think twice about a university education. Some have called this generation of teenagers and young adults the “lost generation“.
For the most disadvantaged youngsters, however, these challenges are intensified, and overcoming them is harder. Many carry the burden of what are called “multiple needs”: poverty, chaotic family backgrounds, low educational attainment, problems with addiction and mental illness, low self-esteem and poverty of aspiration.
This year our Christmas appeal will raise money for 10 charities that improve the lives of the most vulnerable young people: the so-called “hard-to-reach”, the written-off and the excluded. Each of the charities does fantastic work in its own way; all share the belief that no young person deserves to be left behind.
What do our 10 charities provide? In short, they transform lives and life chances. On a practical level they provide programmes and activities that offer help, support, training, mentorship and advice to youngsters aged 13-24. They bring hope, broaden horizons, instil confidence and emotional resilience, and inspire.
They help vulnerable youngsters cope with their chaotic lives and deal with the effects on their health and wellbeing. They provide the space and time to enable them to do well at school and aim for and enter higher education. They enable them to gain the skills and knowhow that will help them get a job or into training, steer them away from paths that may lead them to substance abuse, crime and the criminal justice system, and help get them back on their feet when they take a knock.
It is not too fanciful to say they offer stability, trust and love to youngsters whose lives have too often lacked these qualities.
When I say these charities do fantastic work, this is not an idle compliment. Each demonstrated to us a track record of real achievement, with often minimal resources. They showed themselves to be innovators, to be resourceful, highly motivated and acutely sensitive to the needs of the teenagers they work with. Many draw strongly on the support of volunteers and their local communities. The work they do not only transforms lives, but saves society tens of millions of pounds in the long term by diverting at-risk youngsters from crime and joblessness.
In short we believe our charities demonstrate the very best qualities of Britain’s voluntary sector.
This year for the first time we asked our readers to help us choose the Christmas appeal charities. Having decided our appeal would raise money for disadvantaged teenagers and young adults, we asked you to nominate youth charities you admired and encourage them to send in an application. I’d like to thank every charity for taking the time to apply.
We received an astonishing 340 applications. These were scrutinised by our Christmas appeal partners, the charity thinktank and consultancy,New Philanthropy Capital (NPC). It looked for evidence of high impact, innovation and quality. The scoring was tight and there were many exceptional entries. We slowly whittled the entries down to a shortlist of 20.
A judging panel of Guardian journalists and NPC analysts chose the final 10. It was not an easy task, but we believe the work that we did with NPC enabled us to choose a group of charities and projects of exceptional quality. We are proud, too, that the process allowed us to identify some superb small, local charities, as well as some more well-known names. The money we raise will be shared among all 10 charities to invest in the projects they run. The charities will also receive a package of communications support from the Media Trust.
Some of our top journalists will be visiting and writing about each of our 10 charities over the next three weeks in the Guardian, the Observer and guardian.co.uk. You can find out more about what they do inside tomorrow’s Guardian and by visiting our Christmas appeal page.
I hope like me you will be moved and inspired by what you read. I urge you to donate to our Christmas appeal. Please help us change lives.