• Sandi Marshall

Bring it on!

Visyon held its Annual General Meeting last night. To some degree, this is a formality. We hold an AGM every year and there are certain rules we have to follow, and boxes we have to tick. But it’s more than that. It’s an opportunity for anyone with an interest in what we do to come along, get an update, and have a say. And it’s also a time when we take stock of what Visyon has done in the last year, when we celebrate what we’ve achieved, and plan for the coming year.

There are some phrases that we use (perhaps over-use) every year at Visyon and “it’s been a challenging year” is certainly one of those. We say it every year at AGM time. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Every year at Visyon is challenging, because working in children and young people’s mental health can be tough. And working in the third sector, where we do everything on a shoe-string and battle daily to keep the money coming in, can be pretty demoralising at times.

This year, Visyon has really felt the impact of austerity on the local statutory services. We have seen a huge increase in the number of children and young people coming to us for help. And we have also seen a massive increase in the severity of the mental health issues that these children and young people are struggling with. A high proportion of the young people who are referred to Visyon are seriously self-harming or suicidal. It’s not unusual for us to have 5 or 6 of these referrals in one day.

This presents its own challenges for the team here, as our role is often now less about supporting these young people, and more about advocating to get them the specialist support that they need from the statutory services, support that Visyon isn’t equipped (and wasn’t set up) to provide. The statutory services are under such pressure that they’re doing their best, but that simply isn’t enough. The system is currently stretched to breaking point, and local children and young people are being failed.