Damien Reynolds of The Wolfpack Project

Nottingham charity The Wolfpack Project has had to adapt to the challenges of lockdown to support young people whose mental health has been affected by COVID-19.

Established in 2019, The Wolfpack Project was created by Damien Reynolds to support 16- to 35-year-olds across Nottingham who feel lonely, isolated or are struggling with their mental health.

The charity provides both one-to-one and group support as well as allowing people to drop in at their office to receive ad hoc support whenever they need it.

Reynolds said the main reason for young people struggling with their mental health was the use of online communication as well as the negative effects of social media.

VIDEO: Damien Reynolds talks about the problems of social media

Before the pandemic, the charity had used a “buddy scheme” whereby volunteers would be paired with those feeling alone, socialising by doing activities such as going to the cinema, grabbing coffee or having walks.

Because of government restrictions during the pandemic, the group did much more phone support and group work online.

Staff have also been carrying out a campaign of supplying well-being packs to those in need who are shielding during the pandemic, receiving help from Gedling MP Thomas Randall.

Statistics show that the mental wellbeing of people across the country has fallen over the course of the pandemic, and trends show that this will only get worse.

Figures on loneliness and isolation from the Mental Health Foundation:

  • The number of adults coping with the pandemic dropped from 73% in March 2020 to 64% in February 2021
  • 8% of adults had suicidal thoughts in the previous two weeks in April 2020, rising to 13% in February 2021
  • 18-to 24-year olds who are unemployed, single parents, disabled or have pre-existing mental health issues are significantly more likely to suffer from distress
  • Anxiety about the pandemic has fallen, with 62% of adults being anxious in March 2020 compared with 42% in February 2021

The Mental Health Foundation state that, between March 2020 and February 2021, loneliness has risen from 10% to 26%, and  findings from The Vodafone Loneliness 2030: Overcoming loneliness and social isolation in the UK report show that the UK could be heading down a darker path in the next decade.

Reynolds said in these uncertain times it was important to keep in contact with your friends and family.

The Wolfpack Project will be setting up two new offices in Sherwood on June 1 and Reynolds hopes to set up in other cities to help fight loneliness nationwide.

The group has been recognised on a national scale, with Reynolds having received Good Morning Britain’s mental health champion award in 2020.

Reynolds also won a Point of Light award from the Prime Minister in 2020, the award recognising those who are making outstanding change to their communities.