Shining a light on the extraordinary work of Hampshire based charities

HIWCF’s most recent Seeing Is Believing event was hosted by Youth Options, giving HIWCF donors and supporters an inspiring insight into the vital support delivered to young people in the area.  

Hosted at Youth Options Outdoor Learning Centre in Eastleigh, and joined by Romsey Young Carers, guests and young people came together to see first hand the huge impact that can be made on young people’s future opportunities when they are supported to learn through outdoor activities.


This event spotlighted both on the work of Youth Options and Romsey Young Carers – two charities who work to support some of the most disadvantaged young people in  our area.  


Many of the young people coming to Youth Options are struggling in school or at risk of school exclusion. This can be for many reasons including tricky family lives or additional learning or behavioural needs.  Supporters saw for themselves the value of bringing young people into green spaces to learn important life skills through woodwork, gardening, outdoor cooking (including lighting fires with flints!) and mentoring programmes.   


Seeing IS Believing Youth Options

Madeleine Durie, CEO of Youth Options, described the challenges they see many young people facing:


“Last year we supported over 7,000 children and young people in Hampshire who need support to achieve a better future.  We do this through providing centre and street-based youth work in areas of need; additional targeted one to one support for those who need it most and, offering progression opportunities in employability and other skills.  Children and young people today face a multitude of challenges which has resulted in significant growth in poor mental health, school absences and challenging behaviours.  At the heart of what we do is build trusted relationships between our staff and the children and young people we work with so they have someone who they can talk to, who can give them focused time, support and guidance to make more positive life choices .  One of the areas of our work is using access to nature through outdoor learning where we nurture young people and allow them to take a step back from their everyday worries, carving out valuable time to ‘just be’, without judgement or pressure, and supporting development of social skills and resilience that are so important for them to succeed in the rest of their lives.

Sophie from Romsey Young Carers

Sophie, a young carer supported for more than a decade by Romsey Young Carers, a small charity that offers a safe space for our young carers and families to discuss concerns, get support and have fun. Sophie spoke to the group about how their support impacted her when she most needed help:


“The skills I learned and the people I met when I had the opportunity to access day trips, residentials and especially mentoring support really helped me with my confidence. I had a chance to find out what my interests were at a time when I was being pushed to grow up quickly to support my family. People can’t see the invisible struggles that young carers face, but getting one to one support helped people understand what I was going through so they could help me get the support I really needed.”

Chris Hall, Manager of Romsey Young Carers, described the ongoing and emerging needs of young carers, and the pressures faced by the charity sector:


“Not only are we receiving more referrals, with numbers up by 50% compared to 2019, we’re also seeing an increase in the complexity of additional needs.  This means that young people who are already disadvantaged face even greater pressures in school and at home.  Our wraparound support through nurture programmes and befriending schemes work towards improving mental health in young people, helping develop confidence and coping skills which can really impact their future life chances.   However, the rise in complexity of need is creating increased demand on our staff and volunteers..  We support 156 young carers in the Test Valley area, yet we know there are many more who are providing care in their homes and not yet receiving the support they need.  Our operational costs have increased by 30-40% since 2019, so we are under mounting pressure to draw in funding just to maintain our existing level of support – when expanding and diversifying is what is really being asked of us.”

Jacqui Scott, CEO of HIWCF, echoed:


“We are delighted to have been able to demonstrate the positive impact of these anchor charities who are embedded within the communities they support, and have a deep understanding of what is needed to help our young people thrive.  It is abundantly clear that without their support, more young people would be falling through the cracks and facing life without the skills they need as they transition into adulthood.  And, once again, we are reminded of the cost of living impact, which continues to affect the charity sector’s capacity to respond to the existing and growing demand for their services.  We remain truly grateful for the funding we have been able to provide to help keep these services available to the most disadvantaged within the community.  In 2023, we made 348 grants totalling almost £1.5m, and we want to build on the level of funding we can offer in future.”  

Chris Hall, Jacqui Scott, Madeleine Drury

Left: Jacqui Scott, CEO of HIWCF
Middle: Chris Hall, Manager of Romsey Young Carers
Right: Madeleine Drurie, CEO of Youth Options