At Step Forward we believe that all children and young people have the right to feel safe. To grow up free from abuse, neglect, discrimination and the negative effects of poverty and disadvantage. That all young people should have the support, encouragement and opportunities they need to thrive. Unfortunately for many people this is not always the case. Step Forward was founded in 1988 to address the unmet needs of local young people aged 11-25 and influence positive social change.
Over 25 years of steady growth moved us from a small counselling service reaching 133 people on a budget of £54k a year to providing an unparalleled range of services across the spectrum of young people?s needs reaching over 5,000 people on a budget of less than £500,000.
Young people in Tower Hamlets face the same challenges that all young people face today, exacerbated by local issues. Geographically the smallest borough in London, ours is the most densely populated and has the worst housing in the country. Tower Hamlets has the 2nd highest population of under 18s in Western Europe, coupled with the highest level of child poverty in England, where 55% of children and young people are classified as living in poverty and 27% live in severe poverty. We have the 3rd highest incidence of childhood obesity in the country where 25.7% 10-11 year olds are obese. The 8th highest incidence of sexually transmitted infections in the country and 1 in 10 children are estimated to have a mental health disorder. In addition to this Tower Hamlets has the 2nd highest rate of injuries (deliberate and unintentional) to children and young people in the country.
We operate from our purpose built premises in Bethnal Green Road which is in the heart of the community of Tower Hamlets. Our services are available daytimes and evenings via drop-in or appointment as well as outreach satellite sessions in schools and youth centres. Young people can see us on a one-off or short-term basis or can continue using our services for as long as they need support; perhaps returning if they need additional help later in life. We attract young men and women from a range of communities reflected locally. Over 65% of all young people self-refer after hearing about us from their peers.
Our person-centred approach enables us to build a trusting and empathic relationship with our clients, which we couple with more practical support and guidance including informing young people about their rights and responsibilities in society. Together we develop a personalised package which enables individuals to deal with any previous trauma or abuse, make sense of and take control of their lives, make informed decisions and feel better equipped for their future.
Our specialisms include;
● Counselling ? to reduce the emotional and psychological distress of young people, developing their emotional literacy and promoting mental well being.
● Personal Development ? activities and interventions to tackle personal and social issues to raise aspirations and self-esteem, including accredited learning opportunities.
● Step Out ? providing individual support and group activities for young lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people.
● Forward Thinking Partnership ? providing information on and access to STI screening, treatments and contraception services and well as sex and relationship education to help young people to understand consent and lower infection and unplanned pregnancy rates.