Stressed out young seeking support

With high rates of youth unemployment, housing difficulties and exam stresses, most people would agree that young people are experiencing a tough time.

And that goes some way to explaining why a youth counselling charity in Dacorum has found itself with unprecedented levels of demand from 10 to 25-year-olds who have found themselves needing a shoulder to lean on.

Urban Access is a free and confidential counselling and information service available to all children and young people in the Dacorum area.

The charity offers young people a safe environment to explore their issues without being judged or told what to do and provides them with an opportunity to talk to a counsellor about problems they are finding difficult to cope with, or to understand.

Urban Access manager Carol Heselwood said: “We have had some really positive feedback from many young people who have come to us with all sorts of difficulties.

“In today’s society there are huge stresses on them that weren’t there in years gone by with unemployment issues, the huge pressures on exams, and the fact that there are more family breakdowns then there were before.

“Young people are having to deal with a whole range of problems and they are finding that just being able to talk to someone and gain a fresh perspective on life is really helpful.”

Founded in 1992, Urban Access receives funding from Dacorum Borough Council and Herts County Council, as well as individual donations and voluntary contributions raised from trusts, government agencies and corporate donors.

Although Urban Access is a charity and free to users, each counselling session costs around £40 to run and during the past year the organisation has run 1,343 sessions.

And that means that the charity, like so many others now, is facing growing difficulties in balancing the books.

Carol said: “Funding has become more and more difficult in these hard times.

“We have been very lucky that local authorities have continued to support us but the number of young people wanting counselling has been rising and we always need more money.”

The organisation works with young people experiencing all sorts of difficulties including family problems, bereavement, depression, bullying, anxiety, drug and/or alcohol use, anger, stress, self-harm, isolation and relationship issues.

And despite the difficult nature of her job, Carol says that it is hugely satisfying to see the progress that young people make during their counselling sessions.

“It’s hugely rewarding,” she said. “There isn’t always a quick solution but it is very rewarding when a young person sees how they can move forward with their life and become a positive and rounded member of society.”

Would you fancy your chances batting or bowling against Test cricketers?

You’ll get your chance on Friday, July 12 when England stars Martin Bicknell, Mark Illot and Charlotte Edwards, skipper of the national women’s team, will take on all-comers at Tring.

The West Herts Charity Cricket Challenge is in aid of two local youth counselling charities, Urban Access in Hemel Hempstead and Signpost in Watford.

Tournament teams are made up of six to eight players and the event is played on multiple pitches throughout the day.

The number of teams is limited, so for details contact James Perris at to confirm a place.

Find out more at, and see what the event is all about by viewing the slideshow attached to this feature.