More than half of young people worry most about the mental health of those living within their local community, study shows

Britain’s young people are failing to feel inspired by their future as two in five (40%) admit to feeling scared for what’s ahead.  

A recent national survey by First Give, the social change schools’ initiative, champions the voices and attitudes of young people, aged between 13-and-18-years old, towards their local communities and the state-of-play of the wider world.  

When it comes to the reasons why young people in the UK are feeling concerned about their future, problems impacting the people in their community are weighing heavy on their minds. The mental health of their friends and family close to them worries Gen Z the most, with over half (54%) stating they have concerns about this important issue.  

Knife crime (38%), violence (37%), poverty (35%) and racism (31%) make up the top 5 community issues 13–18-year-olds worry about the most. 

In addition to the problems troubling young people, the data also delved into the biggest issues local communities are currently facing and the results vary drastically in comparison to the issues personally impacting them. Nearly two thirds (62%) state people in their local area are struggling with the drastic price increase of food, drinks, and socialising. This was followed by conflict between countries and an increase in the number of residents needing access to food banks at 34% and 33% respectively.   

Top five problems impacting the local and wider community according to 13-18-year-olds 

Pos.  Problem  Percentage of young people who think their local community is impacted Percentage of young people who think their wider community is impacted 
1.  The increase in price of food/clothes/socialising with friends and family etc  62% 57% 
2.  Conflict between countries  34% 42% 
3.  An increase in the amount of people needing access to food banks  33% 37% 
4.  The climate crisis and rising temperatures  23% 33% 
5.  A lack of inclusivity and peace, due to homophobia/racism etc  19%  23% 

When looking at who is to blame, over a third (34%) feel their generation is paying for the mistakes made by older age groups before them. When asked if they are confident Gen Z can make up for those mistakes, a staggering 72% of those asked disagreed with the statement.  

Although young people feel pessimistic about what’s ahead for them, the future is looking brighter. Over half (54%) want to create a future in which they would feel confident raising children, however this evidently is not something they believe to be the case at present, with nearly one in five (18%) saying they currently don’t think they would feel comfortable having kids when the time is right.  

Furthermore, the findings show that Gen Z hope to live in an inclusive community, with seven in ten (70%) stating they want to live with no discrimination towards race, followed closely by no discrimination towards gender or disability at 65% and 63% respectively.  

Young people in the UK are showing an increased social conscience, with no signs of their altruism slowing down. In the last school year, nearly two thirds (61%) of students aged between 12 and 14 years old connected to a charity within their local community [2]. It seems the future isn’t so bleak, as helping each other is a strong theme within this age group as a staggering 85% of young people who took part in a First Give programme say they will or may do more social action in the future.  

Louisa Searle, director of First Give, comments: “Young people aren’t just the future, they are also the present. It is incredibly disheartening to see such a high number of young people in the UK having such negative feelings about the future ahead of them. Although it’s tough to see the impact that issues in their local community and wider world are having on our younger generation, it’s encouraging to see how aware and keen to elicit change they are and I am confident that First Give can be a vehicle for positive change and provide much needed optimism to young people during their teenage years.” 

“So much of our world and local community needs to be changed and at First Give we believe in the ability of our students to make a meaningful and consequential difference. The First Give programme for schools aims to empower and celebrate positive transformation in local communities through the initiative of this generation.”