A new Lancaster charity aiming to help young people make new friends, learn new skills and find their passions has been officially launched.
Around 250 people gathered at the Dukes Theatre on Thursday November 14, to take part in the launch of Escape2Make (E2M).
The evening began with Lancaster University Prof Dame Sue Black, patron of the charity, who told the audience about the importance of the charity given the mounting evidence that more and more young people are feeling lonely and isolated.
The charity, which is for anyone aged between 11 and 18, has also received a boost after Lancaster University and Eden Project North announced they would be backing the charity.
The charity’s founder Jenny Natusch said E2M is about “escaping social media, boredom, loneliness, pressure at school or home and making things, making friends and making a difference”.
The event at The Dukes was run entirely by young people and hosted by Izzy Rycroft and Kate Bowskill, both 17, who have been involved with E2M since its inception.
They told the audience that youth provision in Lancaster and the surrounding areas “just isn’t available”, and that E2M aimed to change that.
They introduced six young people onto the stage, who had all been involved in various pilot courses and workshops run by E2M in June and July of this year.
Izzy, who also reported on the event for the Lancaster Guardian, said: “Three of the young people - Frieda, Annabelle and Lucy - had met on the E2M workshops and have remained close friends since then.
“Frieda had only moved to Lancaster the week she did her first workshop with E2M.
“All the young people talked about how they had never done anything like the E2M workshops before and couldn’t believe that they could do things like that for free.
“Aashray, 18, who was part of the media group, interviewed many public figures such as MP Cat Smith, and said that he loved the atmosphere of the interviews as it was both friendly and comfortable, but professional at the same time.
“Ted, 12, said that he usually doesn’t do anything in his free time – he normally just “goes on his phone”.
“He went to loads of the workshops, like animation and mindreading, and it gave him something exciting to do at the weekend instead of just sitting doing nothing.
“Eve (17) mentioned how in her mind E2M doesn’t seem like a charity - it gives opportunities for every sort of person to get involved with.”
After the young people were interviewed, Toby Hudson, 19, and a trustee of E2M, explained E2M’s future plans.
Toby, along with some young architects from the E2M architecture group, explained how E2M needs a building to run workshops in, which will be a safe space for young people to spend their time in.
They said that “McDonald’s just isn’t big enough for all the teenagers in Lancaster and Morecambe”.
After this, Kate and Izzy told the audience how to help E2M.
Izzy said: “Escape2Make essentially needs three things - money, volunteers and buildings to run workshops in.
“These things can come from various sources - for example through EasyFundraiser and JustGiving (both of which have links on the E2M website).”
Jenny Natusch added: “If anyone wants to support us they can sign up to Easy Fundraiser or make a donation via our donate button on the website - or fund raise for us some other way.
“If anyone wants to become a friend of E2M and make a monthly donation please contact us via the website.”
The evening ended with a Q&A which began with the panel being asked questions by the audience but was then reversed with the audience being asked questions by the panel.
One question raised by a member of the audience was how E2M intended to fit in with the youth provisions that are already provided, such as CAMHS.
Izzy reported: “The problem with mental health services for young people is that the waiting lists are so long, and help is not often provided immediately apart from in serious cases.
“What E2M intends to do is to support well-being and provide help sooner and even act as a form of prevention of mental ill health before problems even arise in the first place.
“An important thing to note is that absolutely any young person can sign up to an E2M course - one type of person is not prioritised over another.
“The fact that it’s totally free of charge helps to make sure it accessible to all.”
For more information or to get involved with the charity visit www.escape2make.org.