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.

Man vs. Volunteering & Support:  the practicalities

We’re returning to our men vs support blog series with more insights into what our group of young male volunteers want from support and advice services.

During the second of three workshops, we moved on from discussions about how young men feel about their lives to focusing on practical ideas better services for them. Part of this involved thinking about how to get more young men involved in volunteering, as we’ve recognised that attracting men to our services will rely on having male volunteers better involved in delivering peer support.

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What we learned about young men’s help seeking & volunteering behaviour this time:

  1. Trojan horse approach:  Seeking support online needs to be discreet and it was felt one way to do this was to wrap support into another, less threatening, activity to make men feel less vulnerable – a ‘trojan horse’ approach. One idea was an app that looks like a pub trivia game but has a secret link to a one-to-one chat service. This idea subscribes to the ‘all support in one place’ theory for young men.
  2.  Volunteering needs to be flexible and informal for young men: This is in line with trends across volunteering in general, but it was particularly clear that young men wanted relevant opportunities that can be done from home and on the computer.   However, men are still willing to travel and get involved in volunteering outside the home. There was a commitment to attend our workshops because we’d covered their travel expenses and accommodation in advance, making them feel they’re actively participating and engendering a sense of commitment to the project.
  3. Nurturing the existing skills of volunteers will boost confidence, leading to better retention: The group wanted to participate in a volunteering role where they felt genuinely useful and valid, preferably linked to their existing skill set. This also seems linked to confidence – roles not involving their current skills felt a bit beyond them. Therefore, we need to demonstrate our roles are easy to do and available to anyone regardless of skill level and experience, as well as highlighting those requiring specific skills.
  4. Motivations are often linked to career goals, even if they aren’t sure what those are yet: Volunteering for its own sake wasn’t terribly important to our group of volunteers, though they felt it was a good way of spending spare time. Opportunities linked to what they liked at school or their studies were favoured.
  5. They wanted sociable volunteering opportunities: Whether on or offline, they wanted their volunteering to be social. To be connected with other people, to improve social skills and widen social networks was of key importance.

 What we learned this week about running workshops just for young men:

  1.  App design and pitching helps focus ideas: We’ve seen this work in other workshops we’ve done – by asking the group to consider pitching their idea as an app, even if it isn’t going to be one, means they need to focus on the singularity and core purpose of the app and what they want to pitch. It can help distill the idea down into its most useful function.
  2.  Use an egg-timer for pitches: As well as keeping things moving, it adds pressure and excitement.
  3. Think about how to tailor to the individuals in the group: Everybody works in different ways – our tip is to work in some group activities alongside individual activities for those who don’t like the group environment. Get them to use post-it notes to jot down ideas so that everything is captured.
  4. Space is important – change it up – add some freshness: We used the same space as the first workshop. It didn’t work so well. Try and get partners or local organisations to lend you a space. It helps give each workshop a different flavour and freshness. Mix up a few other things as well: lunch, energisers, different things to fiddle with during breaks (Rubiks cubes etc.).

 Next time…

In final session, we’ll be working with the group on content and campaigning. We’ll be looking at what sort of things they are more likely to digest, respond to and share – and why.

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Poll reveals affect of online self-harm images on children and young people

Alarming numbers of 11-21 years olds are being exposed to images online showing people self-harming, with a significant proportion saying the images make them ‘feel like hurting themselves’, according to a poll commissioned by a consortium of leading UK youth charities.

The poll also reveals a worrying insight into the number of children and young people self-harming in Britain today. Over half of 11-14 year olds have self-harmed themselves or know someone who has self-harmed and eight out of every ten 18-21 year olds say they have  self-harmed or know someone who has self-harmed.

ChildLine, YouthNet (the charity behind, selfharmUK and YoungMinds commissioned a poll of 2,000 children and young people between the ages of 11 and 21. The charities are releasing the findings ahead of Self-Harm Awareness Day (Sunday 1stMarch).

20141404-Self-harm- HOME PAGEAmong the findings:

  • One in every four 11-14 year olds and seven out of ten of 18-21 year olds said they had seen images online showing someone self-harming
  • Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, over half of all 11-14 year olds and one in every four 18-21 year olds said they had ‘felt like hurting themselves’ after seeing these images
  • Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, nine out of every ten 11-14 year olds and eight out of every ten 18-21year olds said they had found the images upsetting.
  • Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, six out of every ten 11-14 year olds and one in ten 18-21 year olds said they had shared images of someone self-harming on social media
  • Over half of all 11-21 year olds said they wouldn’t know how to report an image of someone self-harming on social media
  • Around a third of 11-18 year olds and 69% of 18-21 year olds said they would go online for support and information about self-harm

Speaking on behalf of the charities, Lucie Russell, Director of Campaigns at YoungMinds, says: “These findings are extremely worrying and beg concerning questions about the relationship between self-harm, children, young people and parts of the online world. Our research shows that exposure to images of people self-harming online is far too common among children and young people and that this exposure is having a significant effect on their well-being.

“What is most frightening is the young age of children being affected by online imagery with 11-14 year olds finding the images particularly upsetting and making them more likely to self-harm themselves. Sharing images of self-harm on social media is also more common among these younger age groups, which is also a very worrying finding.

“Our research provides a troubling insight into young people and social media in relation to self-harm. There is an urgent need for more detailed research so that we can gain a deeper understanding of why the numbers of young people who are self-harming are continuing to climb at such an alarming rate.

“We must do more to build emotional resilience among children and young people to help them deal with the pressures that they face both online and offline.

Emma Thomas, CEO of YouthNet added: “We all have a responsibility to share content and images responsibly online and to be aware of how what we post might affect others. Far more must be done to educate and empower young people, so they can be safer online.

“This isn’t about demonising the internet or social media, it’s about making it a safer space for children and young people and our charities want to work with social media providers to achieve this.

“The online support provided to thousands of children and young people by our respective charities demonstrates how the internet can and is being used for good.”

To mark Self-Harm Awareness Day (Sunday March 1st), the charities are running a week-long online awareness campaign.

You can follow the Self-Harm Awareness Day activity on Twitter via #selfharm and #selfharmawarenessday and find out more about the campaign on each of the charities websites.


*Case studies for press and media interviews are available on request.

Media Enquiries: Chris Leaman at YoungMinds on 020 7089 5066 or 07813 810114 or Kate Sidwell at YouthNet, or 07910 154673

Notes to Editors:

About the poll

2,000 11-21 year olds were surveyed by OnePoll between 21/1/15 and 27/1/15.

About the Charities/Services

YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, which supports around 1 million 16 to 25 year olds in the UK each year. The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.

ChildLine offers children and young people aged 18 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.

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. Driven by their experiences, we campaign, research and influence policy and practice.

selfharmUK – 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.


What is self-harm? The phrase ‘self-harm’ is used to describe a wide range of behaviours. Self-harm is often understood to be a physical response to an emotional pain of some kind, and can be very addictive. Some of the things people do are quite well known, such as cutting, burning or pinching, but there are many, many ways to hurt yourself, including abusing drugs and alcohol or having an eating disorder.

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Man vs. Support:  How, why & when young men access support

Over the coming months YouthNet will be running three workshops with young men aged 16 -25. Since this is the first time we’ve ever focused on men’s help-seeking behaviour online, I thought I’d capture some of the things we’re learning as we go along: 

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Why are we focusing on men?

We want to reach and engage with more young men online and in our community via our message boards and live chats. This is because we believe that peer support can really help, but currently fewer young men are using our services than women. So we recruited a bunch of young men to find out why this is, and what we can do to make these services more appealing to them.

What we’ve learned about young men’s help seeking behaviour so far:

  1. Young men want to hear from role models
    This came up a lot. People with personal experience of accessing and benefitting from support should be heard from. They wanted advocates, celebrities and real people to get their voice out there and tell the world that it’s alright to look for help.
  2. Anonymity is important
    Online profiles and your online presence are precious. They said they’d be happiest to seek support in a community if they knew they were anonymous and that it was securely moderated. They didn’t want whatever they’d said to be getting back to people they knew or to be ‘used against them’.
  3. There’s still a taboo around looking for support.
    It’s clear that this is a big deal – it’s seen as a weakness to seek support. It’s linked to the desire for anonymity.
  4. Most of the group considered themselves as ‘help-givers’ rather than ‘help-seekers’.
    We asked the group to place themselves on an axis of whether they see themselves as help-givers or help-seekers. They primarily considered themselves as help-givers, being there for friends whenever they needed it, however brief.
  5. They’d want men only spaces
    It was clear that they would be happy to seek-support and advice in a place that was made for them, had male peers in the community and was moderated well.
  6. Sometimes they wanted guidance and a little ‘kick up the arse’
    Similar to other project groups we have worked with (see our Employability site & Motimator app for more), guidance and a kick up the arse are just what they wanted sometimes. Life for young people is often characterised by uncertainty about the future and so the young men felt they needed a boost/gentle push every so often.
  7. They compare themselves to their peers. A lot.
    I guess this point might seem obvious, but they felt comparisons played a big role in their self-esteem. There was a lot of talk about being a different version of yourself around your mates, and how this isn’t always helpful.

What we learned about running workshops just for young men:

  1. Create an informal and welcoming space to meet
    This may seem obvious, but the workshop space was warm, comfortable and we made sure everybody felt relaxed when they arrived. We didn’t pressure anybody to talk or get to know each other right away – but our relaxed approach and introductions definitely helped everybody settle in.
  2. If something’s going well, keep going
    We had our activities planned and we managed to get them all done. However, some stuff worked better than others and we carried on with those for example, we had a ‘Get it off your chest’ activity at the beginning of the workshop which encourages people to just say what’s on their mind. This developed into a group discussion that we could probably have carried on with all day – and was full of insight, so we let it go on to a natural end and just cut short lunch. Don’t be pushed around by your agenda.
  3. It’s a hot topic
    We had a lot of applications for this project and statistics despite the fact that men don’t tend to volunteer as frequently as women. Their eagerness to get involved shows that young men want to engage in thinking about their status and role in society.

Next time…

This was the first of three workshops. The next two will focus on solutions to encourage young men to volunteer more and on what types of marketing campaigns would interest them. For more insights from these workshops, please check over the coming months.

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Storymakers: Session one

YouthNet is in the midst of scoping the development of an ambitious user generated content platform that will allow young people to create and share their own content while getting training and building skills. One of our volunteers, Eva Pirpinia, talks about her involvement in the scoping process.

On Wednesday, the 23rd of January, the first session of ‘Storymakers’ took place at a prestigious and highly relevant location: The Guardian offices. What better way to start a Storymaker project than surround ourselves with one of the most prominent disseminators of digital and printed content in the world?

EvaMy name is Eva, I am 22 and I’m an MA Publishing student and an aspiring marketing/publicity assistant. I may be good with books, but orientation is not my strong point. I got lost (my phone and my Google Maps died) but eventually I did find my way to the offices, after a bit of asking around and fiddling with revolving doors (you can tell I am a conventional door person).

One of the things I appreciate most when I find myself surrounded by strangers is being comfortable, and I am quite happy that the leaders and the participants of the project achieved that to a high extent. This is a summary of what our session consisted of:

We kicked off with an icebreaker activity that consisted of matching the ‘First Facebook photo’ with the face in the room. We also asked questions and found out random, fun facts about other people, which is pretty much what we do on social media; we post facts ourselves and read facts from others; we deal with visual and verbal content.

The second part of our session consisted of Matt McAlister (who works for the Guardian) presenting the Guardian’s own user generated content platform, Guardian Witness, to us. Guardian Witness poses a question each week and the public are encouraged to respond with photos, videos, text or any other form of content. The best pieces are then featured on the Guardian site. It is a great example of user-generated content, and, I daresay, a step towards the democratisation of information. As a result of platforms like this, the dissemination of information, nowadays, is not a privilege of a handful of journalists but rather a global project that allows all sorts of different opinions to be heard.

The Guardian and Observer Office

Most importantly, these opinions are available to be read and interpreted on a large scale,since they are contributed to a prominent newspaper with a very wide audience. The most fascinating part of the session was creating personas. We were divided into groups and were given the task of creating a social media persona. The personas could easily be real people, and we all put effort into making them diverse and unique. We wrote down their activity on social media, and put together ideas on how to improve their social media presence so as to achieve different aims. This activity not only unleashed my creativity but made me aware of how social media can transform our lives and how masterfully it can be manipulated in order to allow us communicate different messages, may it be a feminist manifesto or an awareness project.

The last part consisted of each group being given a different campaign, and we had to brainstorm ideas on how our persona could contribute to this campaign by engaging with social media. As an aspiring book campaign/book marketing assistant, this activity helped me develop the skill of crafting strategies based on the most popular social media (e.g. create a hashtag, post a song) and think out of the box.

The participants of the workshop are all motivated and incredibly eloquent, and it is such fun to hear everyone speak and offer their own perspective. All in all, it was a great, fun session and now I am looking forward to participating in the next one, which I hope will include a tour of The Guardian!

(In the meantime, I will fully charge my phone before I leave my house so as to make sure I won’t get lost again.)

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Co-creating apps: Lessons from designing Motimator

Hi, I’m Andy, and I’m a volunteering Development manager at YouthNet, the digital information and support charity for young people.

My role during the co-creation of Motimator (a new app that aims to help motivate young people when faced with job search setbacks) was recruiting and supporting the young volunteers who worked on the project. I learned a lot through the process and hope what I have to share might be useful to anybody else looking to co-create a digital product with stakeholders.

Co-creation workshops


About the app

The young people we worked with told us that thinking about their career dream and big ambition sometimes felt like a very distant and far away. With this in mind Motimator was developed to break down that big dream into achievable tasks – making that big dream feel much closer and helping you get there along the way.  It doesn’t even need to be a big dream, just something that may be a few steps down the line – like a job interview, or updating your CV, or picking yourself up after a recent setback, such as not hearing back after a job application.

The co-creation process: how we designed Motimator

In the co-creation sessions the young people created ‘personas’ – a technique that encourages young people to input their own hopes, fears, challenges and goals into these fictional personas. It de-personalises the process and can help young people solve problems for them, with digital solutions.

Over the course of three workshops, we built up the ideas with the young people; presenting them with different problems that needed solving – using our personas we added in additional motivations, and looked at motivational adverts and motivational people. We asked what the characteristics of these people and adverts are and pinned them down so we could work out how to make our app truly motivational.

The final session boiled down to creativity and practicality. Our volunteers were asked to finalise their app ideas into a digital product and pitch it to members of YouthNet and O2 staff. The winning app was Motimator. A great idea, practical enough to be made, useful enough to solve problems, and exciting to young people.

Keeping our volunteers engaged

Designing an app from start to finish can be grueling mentally – you spend a lot of time in uncertainty, trying to pin down workable ideas.

To keep them engaged (and keep their heads up) our volunteers were given opportunities to improve their workplace and digital skills throughout the project – as well as a special treat, Up at the O2, for the end of the project. We took them to Slough for an AppShed workshop, working on wireframes to create simple apps, as well as a Freeformers session that gave them basic coding skills and taught them how to create a website and create Facebook adverts. This was extremely effective in building their skills for developing their ideas into workable apps.

Five things to remember if you’re planning an app co-creation project

  1. Recognise and appreciate your young people’s contributions. We mined their minds for weeks, encouraging and asking for more and more creativity. That’s difficult for everyone sometimes and for the ideas to actually be made into a real-life app is something they should be proud of.
  2. Be sure to step back sometimes. As a project leader, it can sometimes feel that you need to step in and add your own thoughts, or encourage an idea down a certain path. Catch yourself when you’re doing this and step back. Allow the young people to solve problems on their own and as long as you’ve given the right approach, the ideas will come.
  3. The more ideas the better. It might take just a small spark from one crazy idea to get another idea really flowing and fleshed out. Encourage your group to think big and you’ll be rolling with them.
  4. Your workshops should feel techy – cool rooms, funky buildings, exciting spaces that breathe creativity and can get you and your group in the right frame of mind to create something, anything. We had the opportunity to use Telefonica Digital’s building and the volunteers loved it as it helped get their brains into tech-mode.
  5. Trust in the process. It might feel like you’re going way off tangent, but eventually you’ll bring it around – that’s all part of the journey. Trust in it and the young people, and you’ll get there.

To see more blogs and the research behind Motimator head over to the YouthNet Employability blog.



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YouthNet volunteer chosen to ‘hang out’ with HRH Prince Charles proves digital can be a force for good

A young volunteer chosen to be at The Prince of Wales’s side at his first ever Google+ Hangout tomorrow afternoon (Thursday 20 November) says she’s looking forward to chatting with the future King about how digital can be used as a force for good.

Helen Davies, aged 25, from Stockport, has been a volunteer online chat moderator for for the past two years. TheSite is the digital life-line for young people aged 16-25 which is run by YouthNet.  YouthNet is among the charities supporting Step up to Serve’s #iwill campaign which is celebrating its first anniversary.

Helen says: “I’m really looking forward to meeting His Royal Highness, so I can tell him more about how young people connect with and support one another on theSite. Having access to a safe, anonymous space where they can get support from their peers can be so empowering. Online often gets a bad press, so it’s important to show people how digital can also be used as a force for good.

“My experience as a volunteer for YouthNet and TheSite has been so rewarding and I’ve gained so much in the way of skills and knowledge. I’m about to begin training and supervising other volunteers, so I can pass on what I’ve learned.”

TheSite provides advice, support and information on everything from mental health to employment. Peer-to-peer live chat forums are held five days a week with trained volunteers acting as moderators to ensure a trusted and safe environment for its users. Young people using the service can remain completely anonymous and talk about anything they want to get support for, but common topics include self-harm, mental health, family and relationships.

TheSite currently has 18 volunteer moderators, all giving their time for free to support other young people. They are fully trained and supported by the YouthNet team, ensuring they have lots of opportunities to gain new skills, experience and confidence.

YouthNet CEO, Emma Thomas, says: “We’re incredibly grateful for the contribution made by Helen and our army of volunteers to the lives of the young people we support. Peer to peer support is so important and the generosity of spirit of our volunteers never ceases to amaze me.

“I’m often asked why it’s so important to provide support online. Put simply, we know that young people go online to seek help and advice, so that’s where our services need to be.”

You can join the #iwill Hangout on the 20th November at 1530 by visiting:



The Google+ Hangout will also be streamed live on the British Monarchy YouTube Channel


YouthNet media contacts: tel: 07910 154673 or tel: 020 7250 5713. Out of hours: 07766 660 755

Notes to editor:

On Thursday 20 November at 3.30pm, HRH The Prince of Wales will meet young people involved in social action across the UK via his first ever Google+ Hangout.  This will mark the first anniversary of the #iwill campaign which he launched in 2013 with support from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

The #iwill campaign is run by Step Up To Serve, an independent charity set-up to coordinate all related activity.  YouthNet is among the charities supporting Step Up To Serve.

#iwill aims to make social action the norm for all 10-20 year olds in the UK by 2020.  Youth social action is defined as ‘young people taking practical action in the service of others’, such as volunteering, fundraising or campaigning.  #iwill also promotes the fact that social action not only benefits the young participants, but also strengthens their communities, creating a ‘double benefit’.

YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, TheSite, which supports around 1 million 16 to 25 year olds in the UK each year.

The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.

YouthNet has developed a range of complementary digital services to support young people:

TheSite – the guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds, with 2,000 articles/videos/blogs about job seeking, housing, sexual health,
mental wellbeing, drugs and more

StepFinder – Local help, easily found. An app that pin-points the nearest local support service and shows young people how to get there and what to expect.

Madly In Love- A digital service where young people can share how they feel about sex, love and mental health.

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YouthNet and Get Connected join forces in anti-bullying campaign to support young people

Following the closure of the BeatBullying Group, leading UK youth charities YouthNet and Get Connected are joining forces for an anti-bullying campaign to ensure children and young people know they have somewhere to find support.

Get Connected, proudly supported by Dixons Carphone, provides a free and confidential, multi-issue helpline for under 25s across six interactive channels, while YouthNet provide online advice, youth peer forums and signposting for a range of issues including bullying. Both charities are focussed on ensuring that children and young people affected by bullying, discrimination, harassment and anything related to these issues have a safe space to seek support.

Jessica Taplin, CEO at Get Connected, says: “Get Connected and YouthNet are committed to supporting children and young people and we will work together to ensure that all young people know where to go to access help and support.

The closure of Beat Bullying means less education on how to prevent and deal with bullying. At Get Connected, our trained volunteers help hundreds of children and young people every month by phone, text, email and web chat with whatever issue they are facing, from bullying and depression to self-harm. It’s crucial that young people have somewhere safe and reliable to turn to. Get Connected provides emotional support, helping young people navigate multiple issues before connecting them with the exact specialist support they need.”

Emma Thomas, Chief Executive at YouthNet, says: “When young people need help, very often the first place they go is online. It is vital that they have access to an anonymous, safe space where they can go for the advice and support they need – when they need it. We hope that by working with Get Connected, we can ensure that many more young people who are affected by bullying and other issues have somewhere to turn.”

Get Connected and YouthNet services are available every day of the year to provide emotional support, advice and signposting for under 25s. For more information visit or


For more information or accompanying images please contact Catherine Sweet, Marketing & Communications Manager at Get Connected: 020 7009 2516 /

Media contact for YouthNet: or 07910 154673.

  • Get Connected is the free, confidential & multi-issue national helpline service supporting vulnerable young people under 25 all over the UK. Last year 180,378 young people accessed our services. Get Connected is registered charity number 1081840 and depends entirely on voluntary donations. Get Connected is a key partner of Child Helpline International, a global network of 173 child helplines in 142 countries.
  • Call FREE: 0808 808 4994 (1pm-11pm daily) / Text for FREE help 80849
    Email: / Web chat: (1pm-11pm daily)
    WebHelp 24/7:
  • YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, TheSite, which supports around 1 million 16-25 year olds in the UK each year. The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.
  • BeatBullying was designed to empower young people to lead anti-bullying campaigns in their schools and local communities and devised peer-to-peer prevention strategies focussed on education to combat the problem.
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YouthNet, together with O2, launches ‘digital mate’ to motivate young people to achieve employment goals

PRESS RELEASE- 00.01hrs, Monday 17 November 2014

A free mobile app to motivate young people to achieve their career and employment goals, is being launched today by digital charity, YouthNet, together with O2.

Called ‘Motimator’, the app is a ‘digital mate to motivate’. It has been designed and developed by a group of 12 young volunteers, aged 18-24, supported by YouthNet and digital telecommunications company O2. The volunteers were recruited by GoThinkBig, which is O2 and Bauer Media’s work experience initiative.

The app has been created to inspire and motivate young job-seekers on their journey to employment whether they are currently looking for work or still in education and planning their future career.

The innovative project follows research by YouthNet and Nominet Trust* which revealed that for young people their phone was a trusted friend and – like any good mate – should be a supporter and motivator.

This is how the app works. Once you’ve downloaded Motimator free for iPhone, iPads and Android devices from, simply pick a ‘motivation mate’ from the app’s menu and then sit back as your mate sends you daily tips and inspiration, plus facts about getting into the industry of your choice.

The tips and hints from Motimator are taken from TheSite, the UK’s trusted information source for young people (run by YouthNet), and from among others.

You can even personalise Motimator, by uploading your own image (or someone who inspires you) to help give you that extra kick-up-the-arse to achieve your goals.

Five cool things that Motimator can do:

  • Provide you with expert advice and tips on how to achieve your career goals.
  • Help you to bounce back from setbacks: Motimator is your very own personal cheerleader, giving you the confidence to stay upbeat through the bad job-hunting times.
  • Break down overwhelming goals into daily bite-sized ones, making even the biggest ideas feel more achievable.
  • Make you stand out from the crowd: in an increasingly competitive job market, Motimator’s insider tips can help you break into the industry of your choice.
  • Help you to stop just talking about the career you want, and focus on getting it, by sending you daily messages of encouragement.

What’s more, Motimator is linked to TheSite – which features thousands of advice articles and videos, opportunities for live chats with experts and a thriving community, all there to help.

Among those involved in the research, design and development of Motimator was 19 year old Ahdab Nasir, a Bsc Multimedia Computing student at Westminster University. She says: “We looked at the struggles young people found when looking for employment and thought how we could solve this digitally. We brainstormed the idea in different ways and even did an Apprentice like activity where we pitched our ideas to the YouthNet and GoThinkBig staff who were in the roles of Lord Sugar and his team.

“I’ve learnt so many digital skills and it was really interesting to be involved in every stage of the process. I’m really proud of the final Motimator app and I hope that it will help other young people to fulfil their employment goals.”

YouthNet Chief Executive, Emma Thomas, says: “We hope that through Motimator, we can support and inspire young people to stay motivated, take positive action when seeking employment and improve their future employability prospects. Our thanks go to O2 Go Think Big for supporting this project, and to all the young people who devoted their time and energy to making this app a reality.”

Tracey Herald, Head of Community at O2, says: “The Motimator app is a great example of the role that digital technology can play in improving access to advice and opportunities that will help young people to achieve their employment goals. The app provides a welcome addition to our existing digital support for young jobseekers through GoThinkBig. We’re delighted to work in partnership with YouthNet and a group of talented young volunteers to help many more young people on the path to employment.”


*Source: Supporting young people through mobile technology, YouthNet and Nominet Trust, 2012.

If you would like to interview the young people involved in the project, please contact the YouthNet press office.

YouthNet media contacts: tel: 07910 154673 or tel: 020 7250 5713. Out of hours: 07766 660 755 or @YouthNetUK

O2 Press Office: or 01753 565656.

Notes to editor:
YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, TheSite, which supports around 1 million 16 to 25 year olds in the UK each year.
The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.
YouthNet has developed a range of complementary digital services to support young people:
TheSite – the guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds, with 2,000 articles/videos/blogs about job seeking, housing, sexual health,
mental wellbeing, drugs and more
StepFinder – Local help, easily found. An app that pin-points the nearest local support service and shows young people how to get there and what to expect.
MadlyIn Love- A digital service where young people can share how they feel about sex, love and mental health.

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Panic attacks are a monster of a problem for young people, but you don’t have to be under X-Factor pressure to experience them, says YouthNet

PRESS RELEASE – 13 October 2014

YouthNet, the online charity for young people, is today (13 October) launching The Panic Attack Monster – an online awareness campaign aiming to de-stigmatise and de-mystify panic attacks among young people.

In the past week alone, it’s been reported that X-Factor contestant Helen Fulthorpe has had a suspected panic attack, while schoolboy Charlie has bravely spoken out

about his panic attacks on Channel 4’s Educating the East End. Fashion blogger Zoella has also revealed she has them. Yet despite the headlines, panic attacks are commonly misunderstood. The reality is they can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and you don’t have to be under X-Factor type pressure to experience them.

YouthNet, which is the charity behind digital life-line TheSite, has created a series of 30 second videos starring The Panic Attack Monster – a fictional character who represents how it feels to have a panic attack.

Panic attacks are experienced by a third of young women and one in ten young men in the UK.* Despite this, panic attacks are widely misunderstood. Many young people who have panic attacks don’t fully understand what they are experiencing or where to get advice on how to cope with them. They can often feel they aren’t being taken seriously and feel stigmatised.

Panic attacks are severe attacks of anxiety and fear that often come on without warning and can last up to 20 minutes.  They cause a number of symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweating, shaking, elevated pulse, and an intense feeling of needing to catch a breath.  Panic attacks can even make you think you’re about to die, though you’re not actually in any danger.

The Panic Attack Monster character in the campaign is an unpleasant character in a green furry suit with demonic horns.  He can attack any time, but everyday scenarios depicted in the campaign, include: being in a contained space such as a lift, being at the cinema, and social situations like approaching someone you don’t know in a bar.

YouthNet Chief Executive, Emma Thomas, says: “You don’t have to be under X-Factor pressure to experience a panic attack, they are commonly experienced in ordinary, everyday situations. Yet young people who come to TheSite seeking support, often tell us they don’t want to admit they experience panic attacks for fear they’ll be misunderstood by their family and friends. Many say they are worried they are ‘going crazy’ and feel very isolated as a result. We know that young men in particular, are less likely to open up about having panic attacks.

“We hope that through using humour in our Panic Attack Monster campaign, we can get more young people talking about panic attacks and begin to reduce the stigma surrounding them. We can’t stop young people from experiencing the terror of panic attacks, but we want them to understand them better, so they can seek the support and advice they need.

The Panic Attack Monster campaign is at home on YouTube. There are four thirty second adverts being released over the next three weeks.

To visit The Panic Attack Monster, please go to:

You can further support the campaign by signing up to our social Thunderclap – to help young people tame the Panic Attack Monster – and break down the taboos surrounding him:


* Source: Prince’s Trust. January 2014

Notes to editor:

YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, TheSite, which supports around 1 million 16 to 25 year olds in the UK each year.

The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.

YouthNet has developed a range of complementary digital services to support young people:

  • TheSite – the guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds, with 2,000 articles/videos/blogs about job seeking, housing, sexual health,
    mental wellbeing, drugs and more
  • StepFinder – Local help, easily found. An app that pin-points the nearest local support service and shows young people how to get there and what to expect.
  • Madly In Love- A digital service where young people can share how they feel about sex, love and mental health.
  • – YouthNet contributes to this social learning environment, which provides social media for education.
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YouthNet volunteer weekender

At the end of July, volunteers from across four different project groups met in London to share their knowledge and experiences of being a YouthNet volunteer.

During 2014, YouthNet has been running four project groups, each one relating to an area of our work. The groups are composed of a team of young volunteers who are acting as our consultants and every month we launch a set of activities for them to get involved in. To date we’ve had an anxiety and depression project group (DA Warriors), a youth employability project group (Job Squad), an app creation project group (Project Magenta) and’s community redevelopment project group (Community Champions).

After a fantastic weekend, three of our volunteers, Jack, Becki and Claire wrote individual blogs about the weekend and I’m going to try my best to do them justice by featuring parts of their blogs to paint a full picture.

The agenda for the weekend

The focus of the weekend was giving volunteers the tools, confidence and language to speak about their volunteering with YouthNet to friends, family and potential employers. To bring that to life, we organised for a representative from Speakers Trust to join us Saturday afternoon, but first the volunteers from the different project groups got together to reflect on their experience.

Jack – “Our workshop leader made us confident to speak on what we’re passionate about.”

“As there was such a diverse blend, the initial activity got us to reflect, or anticipate, on the emotions, successes and challenges we’ve faced in our individual groups. Some of the benefits of taking part were unsurprisingly similar – writing blogs, contributing to the work of the organisation and receiving great opportunities as a result of our volunteering.

Following that, a special visit from the Speakers Trust came to get us up on our feet and more able when speaking to an audience. Focusing on some of our initial anxieties about this activity, our workshop leader sought to debunk some of these inhibiting fears and make us confident enough to speak on what we’re most passionate about. The exercises tested our ability to think on the spot when being just given a topic, or even an object, to speak on.”

Becki – “Despite being scared of public speaking, I spoke from the heart and made everyone cry.”

“I hate talking in front of people and never in a million years thought I’d be able to do it… But I did! Whilst I was standing in front of everyone every inch of me was shaking. But I knew that if I didn’t push myself, I’d never be able to do it. My final speech was quite an emotional one. We had to talk about why we volunteered for YouthNet. I spun it around a bit and spoke about the weekend mostly and the things I felt I achieved. Helen said to speak from the heart and that’s exactly what I did. But I made all the staff cry, including myself. Sorry guys!”

Claire – “Volunteering has changed me as a person.”

“The speeches were very inspiring, some of the lovely speeches about how much volunteering with YouthNet has helped them. I for one also agree how much volunteering with YouthNet has changed me as a person. I love every minute of it, and I love helping.”

Introducing our latest volunteer project group – community champions

In honour of our recently launched community champions group, on the Sunday we changed gears slightly and as a team we put our heads together to think of ways on how we could further engage’s online community. Community Champion volunteers are injecting their innovative and brilliant ideas into all aspects of’s online community: live chats, discussion board, layout and even content, to ensure that’s community continues to be fresh and a place where young people feel safe and comfortable. In order to help them kick start the project, we all contributed our ideas on as we know it and how we want to know it.

Jack – “Sharing ideas on how to improve”

“Today’s focus would be put onto their online service, TheSite, and to share ideas on how improvements or changes can be made. The activity for this included how the group would imagine the website as a political party or a music festival! As odd as those similarities may sound, there were various aspects which we found TheSite could benefit from, like VIP benefits and meetings among website volunteers. From that, we then stuck our own post-it notes on what next steps we would like to see TheSite take to improve its services.”

Becki – “Until next time.”

“Before I knew it, it was time to go home. I was a bit disappointed actually because I had such an amazing weekend I didn’t want it to end! So thank you to everyone that helped me have an enjoyable weekend and hopefully I will see you all soon.”

I’d like to echo Becki’s final words and say thank you to everyone who was involved in such a brilliant weekender. Until the next one in October!

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