Young Ambassadors Programme Helps Tackle Loneliness in Wales

At a time where it's being reported that young people feel lonelier than any other age group, there's one programme helping to make a real difference.  A new report suggests that young people across Wales who are involved in the Young Ambassador programme experience improved mental wellbeing.

While only 36 of 200 respondents said that they joined the programme for the purpose of meeting new people, nearly all were surprised to find it was a welcomed added bonus.

The report indicated that 93% had said that the programme had helped them to meet new people.  A staggering 96% said the programme had improved their confidence, and 91% felt they had helped to improve the health and wellbeing of other young people.

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Young ambassador Cara Stuart from Pontprennau says that the Young Ambassadors [YA] Programme has made her feel more socially connected in her community:

"I've gained a huge support system in my community as a result of all the volunteering I have done with the YA Programme," says 15-year-old Cara who volunteers at local sports clubs and studying for her GSCE exams.

"I feel like the people I've met have become my family - whether it be the staff at my school or the people at the clubs I work at."

It is said that the main characteristics of loneliness include 'having nobody to talk to' and 'feeling disconnected from the world'.

Cara credits the YA Programme with helping her manage the loneliness she sometimes feels whilst studying for her school exams: "When I spend so many hours alone studying I'm so grateful to my friends I've met through the programme who have sent a simple text saying 'It's OK', and that I'm not on my own," she adds.

Of 200 Young Ambassadors, 108 respondents joined to develop their skills which would help increase their employability such as communications and leadership skills.

"This is a youth-led programme that empowers young people to develop their skills through sport," says Aled Davies, the Development Co-ordinator for Wales' strand of the Youth Sport Trust project.

"These are perhaps the more well-known benefits of the programme but it's fantastic to see that the report also shows how the programme can benefit their wellbeing.  

"I look forward to seeing how the programme will continue to be utilised by young people across the country and be so invaluable to them in their personal and professional lives."

The report coincides with the upcoming 9th National Gold Young Ambassadors Conference. Over a hundred young people from across Wales will be encouraged to make an impact in their schools and communities over the next 12 months. These young people will have earned their Gold Young Ambassador status through countless voluntary hours within their local community.