A Chat With: Kimberley Gardner from YPAS

This week we chatted to Young Person’s Advisory Service (YPAS) Marketing and Communications Officer, Kimberley Gardner, about the recently launched fundraising campaign to rebuild Liverpool’s children and young people’s mental health hub, the building’s history and why a city centre location is so important.

First, can you tell us a bit about what YPAS does?

Established in 1966, YPAS is a charity that supports children, young people, and families to address their mental health and emotional well-being difficulties. It offers a wide range of support and therapeutic services for children, young people, and families in Merseyside. Services include 1-1 support and open access group sessions, and are delivered across three community hubs, in primary and secondary schools and within GP surgeries.

How long have you been in your current city centre building?

In the early 19th century, YPAS’s city centre building was occupied by the Child Welfare Society, so it’s been serving this population for over 100 years. The building was gifted to YPAS by the John Moores Foundation in 1991 and to date has supported many thousands of children. In 2021 YPAS reached more than 9,500 children, young people and families and provided over 49,500 therapy and support sessions from its three geographically based community hubs, including its city centre site.

What’s been good about the city centre building?

People recognise our building; the location is excellent. Evidence has shown that having a service in the city centre protects the anonymity of young people and is accessible to all transport links.

So, what needs to change now and why?

Basically, the current city centre building is over 200 years old and no longer fit for purpose. The demand for mental health support has also outgrown the building’s capacity. Our 18th-century city centre building is bursting at the seams and is crying out for a refresh, which requires a full rebuild, with the aim of maintaining elements of its original structure. Mental health problems are a growing public health concern. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. Local, community-based, and accessible services are key to meeting young people’s mental health needs. The development of our new city centre building will allow for more children, young people, and their families to access support in a timely manner provided by the right service, at the right time.

Can you tell us about the fundraising campaign?

The fundraising campaign launched in early October 2022 in line with World Mental Health Day. The appeal is to rebuild our city centre building to continue supporting the mental health & emotional well-being difficulties of Merseyside’s children, young people, and families. Our mission is to create a world-class city centre mental health hub. Our CEO Monique Collier has openly said that five million pounds is a very ambitious target, but we believe in it. The new build will allow for the enhancement of YPASs services to be delivered on a broader scale in an environment that continues to carry a reduced level of mental health stigma.

What will the new building mean for local young people and their families/friends?

To explain that you’re best hearing it directly from our young people. We asked one this question and they said: “YPAS has always been a supportive, safe, and non-judgemental space for me and many other young people across Merseyside. Being able to access a new, fit for purpose building in the heart of Liverpool would mean that I, along with the many other young people who rely on it can continue to get the help, advice and support we need, when we need it, to live happier and healthier lives”.

What have people been doing to raise money so far and what else do the YPAS team and supporters have planned?

Our first event was the 24-hour “Moving for Mental Health Challenge” on the  9th and 10th October, with the second day being World Mental Health Day. It was a great 24-hours and there are loads of photos you can check out on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (@YPASLiverpool). Future plans are to continue with community fundraising events, we are also putting some bids in with funding organisations and speaking with the wider city to generate further support.

What ways can individuals, organisations and businesses get involved?

We’re open to any ideas. Anyone can donate directly here and we’d encourage anyone to reach out to our team if they have an idea or want to find out more, by emailing communications@ypas.org.uk

Please support the YPAS campaign however you can:  https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/RebuildCentralHub

 

 

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