YouthNet blogs are written by YouthNet staff and volunteers. We write about anything and everything related to our services and interests. We’re a varied bunch, so our blogs are too. Enjoy.

Marathon magic

Yesterday, 21 runners supporting YouthNet joined almost 36,000 others to take on the mighty Virgin London marathon. Luckily they were treated to warm sunshine and beautiful blue skies for what is always an unforgettable day. A collective of YouthNet staff were positioned at mile 25 to cheer our runners down the final stretch!

Our heartfelt thanks go out to Lisa, Janine, Jason, Leane, Rachel, Hester, Mike, Cristiana, Will, Stephen, Peter, Robert, Ingrid, Alex, Laura, Susan, Simon, Chris, Robbie, Ian and Rich for their incredible dedication to training and fundraising.

Collectively they’ve raised thousands of pounds for YouthNet which will help us continue to deliver and innovate our services so that we can reach many more young people. If you’re inspired by our marathon runners and want to run for us next year, please contact



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Freelance HTML5 Developer

YouthNet is looking for a HTML5 developer who is passionate about developing digital solutions on mobile. You will lead on the development of a hybrid mobile app alongside our internal agile technical team.

The aim of the app is to help young people aged 16-25 to stay motivated and take positive actions when making their journey into employment.

You will have the opportunity to work closely with the project’s sponsor – a major telecommunication company – and with young people who contribute directly to the design and testing of the app.


YouthNet is the UK’s first exclusively online charity providing trusted, non-judgemental emotional support and guidance to thousands of young people across the UK every day about the issues that affect their lives. Whether it’s emergency help in times of crisis, support with everyday issues, or getting involved in their community, YouthNet is always there for them 24/7.

YouthNet’s core service, provides young people with impartial information and advice. With over 2,000 fact sheets, articles, videos and blogs, offers young people a comprehensive range of advice on issues such as sex and relationships to housing, alcohol and depression.  Attracting more than 68,000 young people each month, is a trusted source of advice and guidance for young people throughout the UK.

Overall purpose of the post:

Working as part of our digital development team, you will responsible for the successful delivery of a mobile hybrid app built in HTML5/CSS3 and Adobe PhoneGap. You will lead the development of the app whilst working closely with our Front End developer and Lead Developer to share your approach and expertise.

Main tasks and responsibilities:

  • Develop a mobile hybrid app using Adobe PhoneGap.
  • Deliver across the entire app life cycle – concept, design, build, deploy, test and release to app stores
  • Work directly with the Project Manager to translate requirements into solutions
  • Work closely with our digital development team
  • Document your solution and take part in knowledge transfer to permanent technical staff

Reporting to: Project Manager

Person Specification:

Key skills:

  • Good understanding of HTML5/CSS3 and Javascript
  • In-depth knowledge of building and testing across multiple mobile platforms
  • Good knowledge mobile accessibility and Google analytics
  • Ability to work on your own and as part of the team

Desirable skills:

  • Experience of using Adobe PhoneGap plugins and API
  • Experience of JQuery and Ajax
  • Experience with version control systems, preferably Git
  • Experience of Restful APIs
  • Experience with Agile methodologies and working with user stories, preferably Scrum.

Personal skills:

  • Ability to deliver to tight deadlines
  • Delivery focused, self-motivated and ability to plan workload
  • Good verbal and written communication and team player

Terms and Conditions
Rate:                   £350 per day
Contract type:   6 weeks fixed term contract
Hours:                9.30 – 5.30, Monday to Friday (Office based)
Location:           Old Street, London
Start date:         Mid-May 2014

Closing date for applications: Friday 25th April.

Interviews are expected to take place week commencing: Monday 28th April.

To apply, please send your CV and a short letter explaining why you are interested in the role and examples of your recent work to (No agency please).

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Introducing YouthNet’s Employability ‘Cycle of Innovation’

With continuously alarming levels of youth unemployment, it’s not surprising that our Work & Study on TheSite  is one of the most popular areas of support and the search term that leads the most young people to TheSite is around Job seekers allowance.  Young people are facing a huge challenge to find work and cope with the impact on their lives.
To meet this need, and thanks to the support of Capital One, YouthNet has been developing our support in this area and increasing our content and help, such as these articles on Graduate CV Advice and Apprenticeships.

We also take the approach of looking at employability as one part of young people’s lives, so to recognise the impact on the related issues of money, housing and relationships. We believe we must be there for the wider consequences that finding and transitioning into work can have on young people. Key to this is providing support for their mental well-being.

The Prince’s Trust Youth Index showed that 40% of jobless young people have faced symptoms of mental illness – suicidal thoughts, feelings of self loathing and panic attacks – as a direct result of unemployment. 1 in 5 of those young people who are faced with unemployment report they cannot cope with the pressures of day to day life.

So we must do more.

YouthNet are making employability the focus of our major Cycle of Innovation (COI) approach for this year, to develop new digital tools in partnership with young people that can make a difference.  In essence, this is our Research & Design process going from insight to product development, with collaboration at its heart; collaboration with young people, sector colleagues, corporates and digital experts.  By coming together, we believe we can be ambitious in shaping new solutions to some of society’s key challenges.

It’s our third such cycle, the first two looking at help seeking behaviour via mobile devices and the power of early digital intervention to prevent young people slipping into homelessness. The process is fairly intense and pretty ambitious, as we believe we need to be bold in our thinking and creativity to find the right solutions and use the power of digital to make a difference to young people’s lives.

We want to share our experiences and insights from the COI into employability, so this time we have established a dedicated site from the start to share our progress, insights and challenges and give a voice to the young people taking part and those of our partners. Please have a look, share your own thoughts and read those of our participants.
There are some great blogs by some of our ‘Job Squad’ of young volunteers.

YouthNet’s Job Squad is a group of  18-25’s from across the UK and at different stages in their employment journey, who will  provide insight, share their personal experiences and help YouthNet’s understanding of what employment looks like to young people today. They’ll  be working on creating hypotheses and creative solutions to help formulate and shape YouthNet’s strategic thinking around employability so that together, we can develop support which can help other young people.

So far, they have joined us for a kick-off session to look at areas of support needed and taken part in a co-creation session with employers. This event took place last Friday, and brought together young people, Third Sector experts and corporate organisations. It aimed at exploring the needs of both young people and employers, and to help YouthNet begin co-creating ideas for new digital employability support.  It was a lively session hosted at the fantastic Bakery with the usual flips charts, post-it notes and prizes for the winning team.  It offered some interesting insights and developed some great initial ideas, all of which we will be using to take forward through the process.  You can see more on our employability site.

We are really grateful to our Job Squad and attendees from Societe Generale, AccentureEden Brown, Capital One, Forward Foundation, CSC, Streetleague, Brightside, Elevation Networks, The Brokerage – CityLink, State of Ambition, London Youth, The Guardian and Futureversity for their energy and creativity.

From this we move quickly to co-creation sessions around three key territories of support which take place over the coming weeks.

As Chris Martin, our Operations Director has described, YouthNet’s COI process is stepping into the unknown as we have no idea of where the journey will take us and what concepts young people will develop with us.  Yet is it always a creative and fun process and a vital part of our commitment to striving to do more for young people with the challenges they face.

So watch this space as we continue our COI process and to see where we end up.

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YouthNet CEO responds to MindEd launch

“We welcome new approaches to improving mental health services like MindEd that champions digital intervention and supports adults in understanding young people’s needs, but we need to do more.

“We know that young people are often unsure about how to talk about these issues, so they need to be given the confidence to distinguish their feelings, so that they feel empowered to seek help.

“Digital support provided in a style and tone they can relate to offers a vital and safe space to share openly and is often the place they turn to before seeking professional advice.

“We hope to continue to see investment in digital solutions like MindEd and look forward to further opportunities to work collaboratively to tackle this issue for young people into the future.”


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Every Day Matters.

Find out why YouthNet and Legal & General are working together to help you stay motivated during these tough times through our Every Day Matters campaign.

Life’s not easy, is it? Whether you’re busy studying 24-7 for exams, sending off job applications on a daily basis, dealing with peer-pressure or just worrying about the next place to stay when your mate kicks you off his sofa, you’ll know growing up in the UK today is tough.

Luckily, you’re a motivated bunch. You try and stay positive. You’re working hard to get through this and try to do well – you don’t just sit around all day and wait for things to happen. You try to make your futures bright.

At YouthNet we know that dealing with all this stuff can be hard. And it can wear you down. Even the toughest of us. We’re concerned that even the most motivated young people may be running on empty, in the current climate.

We want you to know that the work you put in every day, matters.

So this fortnight (between the 17th and 28th of March) we’re going to help you keep spirits up. With the support of our partner Legal & General, YouthNet will be offering advice and tips (from both experts and other young people) to get you through these tough moments.

We’re also asking you to tell us what keeps you motivated every day to achieve the things that matter to you in life. We’ll share these messages with others in similar situations, to help them keep on track.

We want you to know that all you’re doing every day WILL eventually make a difference to your future; every day matters. But it all starts with looking after yourself and knowing support is there for you and that you’re not alone.

To get you started, here are some simple things you can do right now

Who are Legal & General and why is YouthNet working with them?

Legal & General is a leading financial company whose core aim is to help people achieve financial security. Every day, Legal & General helps people plan for the things they dream about, deal with the unexpected, and protect the things that matter. This approach is known as ‘Every Day Matters’ and represents what Legal & General cares about, what it stands for and how it behaves.

The folks at Legal & General understand that young people are the future so they want to work with YouthNet to keep you motivated as you embark on your journey into adulthood, by launching our long term partnership with this inspirational social media campaign.

Will the relationship affect YouthNet’s services and the support you receive from us?

At YouthNet our policy is to ensure our online services remain independent and factually accurate. Our partnership with Legal & General does not extend to endorsing their products or services and we suggest our users take into account the whole market when choosing an insurance provider.

YouthNet is a small charity. We survive on donations from a wide variety of partners in the private and public sectors as well as small trusts and individuals. Our aim is to provide information, advice and support to young people that they can trust.
Though we partner with many different types of organisation, you can be confident that the information on YouthNet is free from commercial or government influence of any kind.Find out more about how YouthNet gets its funding.

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Self Harm Awareness Day: Online for good.

Very rarely are the issues of young people’s online behaviour and self-harm discussed favourably together. But, if Self-Harm Awareness Day today is about anything, it’s about breaking down some of the myths, so here’s one to start with… For many young people, online is not the source of their problems; It’s the route to addressing them.

Far from being confined to the realms of the type of websites that worry us all, young people all over the country are going online to talk about self-harm in positive and beneficial ways- to reach out for help for the first time, and to help others.

Of course as CEO of a digital charity I’m going to champion the positive role it plays helping young people, but more than this, it’s what young people tell us! Earlier this week young people joined us for a live chat, focussed on self-harm. This was a chance for them to check in with us and our guest expert for the evening, Rachel Welch from They asked questions about how to disclose their self-harm to someone face to face and address concerns about confidentiality in a safe and trusted space. Being online allowed them the freedom to seek help in a way they couldn’t in person and, for one participant, take the next steps along the road to recovery.

Of course this is just one example. Each year we help around 1 million 16– 25-year online and 200 young volunteers who work with us to provide advice to their peers, ensuring safe peer to peer support online every day. But more needs to be done. Young people still tell us they feel alone, that they can’t talk to anyone. They can, and do, go online- and when they do, we need to be there for them.

We need to talk more about the benefits online brings for young people so that we can share insights and experience, rather than shock stories, and ultimately increase the number of young people getting access to the help they need, in whatever form they need it. Most importantly, we need to ensure young people know they are not alone.

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Self-harm blog week: Keeping the conversation going

Self-harm: you are not alone

All this week we have been sharing a series of blogs by young people and professionals with experience of self-harm in the lead up to Self-harm Awareness Day (1st March 2014).

Our focus on self-harm this week has been part of a campaign to raise awareness about the key situations and feelings that lead young people to self-harm and share some thoughts and experiences on different coping techniques or distractions.

As part of our joint charity survey we asked young people what messages about self-harm they’d like to share with the world. We received almost 3,000.

Here are just a few:

“We are all fighting our own battles and we are all strong enough to win. We just need to believe.”

“There’s no shame in seeking help- it’s better to talk to someone instead of keeping it all inside.”

“Parents-don’t expect your child to know all the answers to your questions, they probably don’t know themselves. Just listen.”

“People who self-harm aren’t doing it for attention, that’s the last thing they want, they just want someone to talk to and help.”

We will be supporting a self-harm Sunday Surgery special with
Radio 1 this Sunday, 2 March- tune in from 9pm.

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Self-harm: Youth charities reveal bullying and loneliness as a major trigger

Self-harm: you are not alone

A recent poll, conducted for Self-harm Awareness Day, reveals that one in four young people who self-harm started due to bullying, with 61 per cent saying they do it because they feel alone.

ChildLine,, YouthNet and YoungMinds have collaborated once again in support of Self-harm Awareness Day (1st March). To help understand the key reasons why young people begin to self-harm, the charities conducted a survey* and received an overwhelming response from almost 4,000 young people aged 25 and under.

Feeling ‘alone’ and being ‘bullied’ were highlighted as the key triggers that lead young people to self-harm for the first time. One in four of respondents named ‘bullying’ as the biggest reason for hurting themselves and 61 per cent of respondents said that the event leading them to self-harm had made them feel ‘alone’. More than 38 per cent of respondents admitted that, other than online, they had never spoken to anyone about their self-harming.

Each year, the charities see increased demand for services as more and more young people are trying to reach out for support. ChildLine alone have seen a staggering 41 per cent increase in counselling sessions where self-harm was mentioned.
When asked about their coping techniques, respondents rated ‘listening to music’ (45 per cent) as the best way to stop themselves from harming. This was followed by ‘talking to friends and family’ (15 per cent), which coupled with the admission that 38 per cent have never spoken to anyone about their self-harm, highlights the increasing importance of breaking taboos around this issue and encouraging people to talk more openly.

Rachel Welch from, speaking on behalf of the charities said: “Really tackling the issue of self-harm among young people means not only recognising the situations and feelings that lead them to take this path but also ensuring that those in a position to help them recognise the early signs of self-harm and how best to support them.”

“Young people themselves can also be a source of support for each other. As part of the survey, we asked young people to tell us their distraction or coping techniques and share their own messages to raise awareness of self-harm and break some of the common myths. We received a fantastic response and will be sharing these messages via our websites and social media for a week after Self-harm Awareness Day.”

Sharing her own message in support of others affected by self-harm, Becky, an 18 year old who volunteers for said: “By bringing self-harm into the light and speaking about it openly we send an important message: ‘You are not alone, help is always out there and there is always hope’.”

Rachel continued: “Many young people told us that they wanted people to know their self-harm wasn’t about attention seeking. It’s so sad that young people are facing this stigma and being labelled rather than getting the support they need.”

The charities want everyone to be able to recognise the initial signs of self-harm and support young people to know that they are not alone. You can find out more about the campaign on each of the charities’ websites or by follow their campaign on Twitter via #selfharmawarenessday.

Notes to Editors

*Charity Survey – From December 2013 to February 2014, ChildLine,, YouthNet and YoungMinds hosted a self-selecting online survey to ask young people about their experiences of self-harm.

When young people gave us reasons for hurting themselves for the first time, the most frequent were:

Bullying (25%)
Family relationships (17%)
Pressure to do well at school (14%)
Emotional abuse (11%)
Friendships (11%)

When asked about the feelings that first led to them hurting themselves, young people cited feeling:
Alone (61%)
Numb/empty (46%)
Sad (41%)
Angry (36%)
Out of control (34%)

Further information available from:
Self-harm Awareness Day (1st March 2014) is a global awareness day aimed at breaking down some of the myths and stereotypes around self-harm and raising awareness about the support available to people. This is the fourth year that ChildLine,, YouthNet and YoungMinds have come together to ensure young people experiencing self-harm have access to information, support and advice whenever and wherever they need it.
Case studies for press and media interviews are available on request.
Media Enquiries:
YouthNet media contact: Emma Motherwell, or tel: 020 7250 5779, 07766 660 755
About the Charities/Services:
ChildLine offers children and young people aged 19 and under free, confidential advice and support 24 hours a day – no problem is too big or small. Our trained volunteer counsellors can be contacted through our helpline 0800 1111 or on for online chat or email. is a safe, pro-recovery website that supports young people who self-harm. It also offers training for parents, carers and professionals equipping them to handle disclosure and provide effective support.
YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. YoungMinds provides a Parents’ Helpline for any adult concerned about the mental health or wellbeing of a child or young person. 0808 802 5544 or
YouthNet is the leading online charity behind, the online guide to life for 16-25 year olds. provides essential, straight-talking, anonymous advice to young people about the issues affecting their lives. 0207 520 5700
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Self-harm blog week: Music is my distraction

All this week YouthNet are sharing a series of blogs by young people and professionals with experience of self-harm in the lead up to Self-harm Awareness Day (1st March 2014).

Here, Claire (25) talks about how music can be a great distraction when she feels the urge to self-harm.

For me personally music takes me to another place it lets me escape the thoughts in my head and allows me to stop thinking about things for a while.

I often make different playlists to help through different points in my life. When I am feeling happy I will make a playlist of some really upbeat songs and then when I don’t feel too happy, I will make a playlist full of songs that have uplifting lyrics that help me feel a bit stronger. I also feel like I can connect with the lyrics of songs and how words can really lift your mood.

Music is also a good distraction for me personally because it helps me to feel myself. By this I mean that I don’t have to pretend to be somebody else, I can put my ipod on and just be myself, without having to pretend I am okay. Music is powerful and it helps me express my feelings and thoughts.

Music can also be shared and his can be a positive activity because it keeps people distracted and it can be a way of expressing how you’re feeling. It provides a platform for people to get chatting about music and sharing what they’re into.


There are lots of distractions out there that young people could find helpful. It depends on the young person because everybody is unique. There are immediate distractions, that help people in the moment when they need to be distracted, and there are also long term distractions that could also help in the long run.

Immediate distractions could include, doing some drawing, or some knitting, both of these activities help to keep your hands busy and also distract you because you are focusing on something else, your drawing and also the pattern your knitting, and you will also have something to show at the end of the activity. Reading is also a good distraction, because it could take you away from the situation and you can concentrate on your book, and almost go to another place while you’re reading, you can feel totally absorbed in the storyline and forget about things for a while. It could also include having an elastic band on your wrist and pinging it whenever you want to hurt yourself, this will give you the sensation of pain, but won’t cause any permanent damage to your body.

Long term distractions could include, going to the gym or going for a walk, again both these distractions can help in the long term, going to the gym can help because it keeps you healthy and also exercise is a great way to lift your mood. Going for a walk also helps because being outside in the fresh air gives us more energy, as well as a space to reflect positively on things. I enjoy going on walks and it gives me time to think and just clear my head when I am feeling a bit down. It is also helpful, because you’re not sitting there on your own thinking things through over and over. Some other long term distractions could include cooking and going swimming.

With any distractions it’s important that people find what works for them, and helps them to feel good. Not everybody is the same. This is very important because distractions are very important and they do help a lot. So don’t give up on distractions it can sometimes take a while to find what works for you, but it is so worth it when you find something that helps you.

Our thanks to Claire for sharing her story. Further information and support for self-harm is available on TheSite.

You may also want to check out the playlists and support on Madly In Love- a place where young people share how they feel about sex, love and mental health.

Self-harm Awareness Day (1 March) is a global awareness day aimed at breaking down some of the myths and stereotypes around self-harm and raising awareness about the support available to people. This is the fourth year that ChildLine,, YouthNet and YoungMinds have come together to ensure young people experiencing self-harm have access to information, support and advice whenever and wherever they need it.
Follow #selfharmawarenessday on 1 March.
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Mental Health app co-creation: the story so far

Our 2013 YouthNet research into the way young people seek help in the mobile environment found that stress is a consistent factor in young people’s lives.

To address this key insight, we want to build an app that will ‘de-stress a situation’ and give young people space to make reasoned choices about their next steps.

YouthNet has developed a co-creation system which brings together young people, subject-matter experts and digital specialists to generate and refine digital product concepts.

So far we’ve run two co-creation sessions for our proposed mental health app, with a third scheduled. This will be followed by design, building and testing stages before the first iteration of the app is released.

We’re working with digital agency Neontribe to facilitate the process, ensuring that together we will develop an innovative, sustainable product that is truly driven by and developed with young people.

As YouthNet’s project manager I’ve been heavily involved with all stages of the process so far:

Session 1

The first session ended on a high note, the group of young people manage to work collaboratively on personas and scenarios, coming up with eight ideas on how technology might be able to help in stressful situation (Charlotte Poulter, one of our volunteers, gives the low-down on how this day went on her blog: Volunteers Raid YouthNet).

Session 2

The second session was attended by a group of 12 young Londoners, 3 from the previous session. In true YouthNet style, we started the day with an ‘opening round’ – your name and something that makes you happy. Just going around the room put a smile on my face, reminding me that it’s the simple things in life that make most people happy.

The group was then presented with the eight ideas from the first section. Splitting into groups, each had the massive task of selecting an idea, and breaking it down to a level that they were able pitch back to group.

During the session, they were prompted to question themselves on needs, approach, benefits, competitions, when the app will be used and by who. They then made their initial pitch to other teams and refined and enhanced their app concept based on feedback.

Young people pitching an app ideaAfter an intense day, the teams were ready to pitch back to the whole group. Pitching was probably the most challenging part of the day, involving standing up and talking in front of 20-odd people. But I was impressed: in a short time period they managed to achieve a well-thought out concept, create story boards, organise themselves and present a pitch that would even impress the inhabitants of Dragon’s Den. They managed the Q&A from the others well and the app concepts were so impressively thought out and detailed I could almost visualize them working on my phone.


Special thanks to all who had volunteered their Saturday to contribute in the creation of the app:

Stephanie M, Sarah B, Rachel C, Tia A, Anjeli S, Amy H, Sarah C, Morenike L, Ciara M, Steffany M, Luke S and Rebecca B.

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