A co-founder of Wigan Youth Zone is so concerned about the epidemic of self-harming among adolescent girls in the borough that he has vowed to set up an emergency helpline.
Martin Ainscough, the millionaire businessman who helped to launch the boys and girls’ club, said he was shocked to learn of the sheer numbers of local minors who are mutilating themselves due to stress and bullying.
Figures revealed in the Wigan Post showed that one in four borough 14-year-old girls have admitted to self-harming in a Children’s Society survey.
Mr Ainscough said he was already aware of the problem because one of the lesser-known parts of the Youth Zone is to offer help to youngsters with mental health issues.
But he now wants to throw a lifeline to others who currently don’t have links to the club.
He said: “This is a massive issue, and these statistics really bring home just how massive. I feel the need to do something so in the next couple of weeks
I am going to set up a helpline with a dedicated member of staff for young people to contact if they have issues such as these.
“Someone who isn’t a member of the Youth Zone is unlikely to walk in off the street and say they have a problem. But if they ring our line, if necessary go out and see that person or invite them to the Youth Zone and maybe buddy them up with someone.
“We already do this kind of work, whether working with LGBT young people or through our mental health issues group. It would all be handled in strict confidence. It’s a delicate matter.
“Clearly if a case is a serious one we will escalate it to the local au'thorities.”
The helpline would be aimed particularly at the age group covered by the Youth Zone, namely eight to 18 and up to 25 for those with special needs.
Until the dedicated line is set up, Mr Ainscough said that anyone in need of help could ring the Youth Zone telephone number on 01942 612061.
The self-harm statistics follow new analysis included in the charity’s annual Good Childhood Report, which examines the state of children’s well-being in the UK. The report looks at the reasons behind the unhappiness which increases the risk of children self-harming.
Based on these figures, The Children’s Society estimates that in Greater Manchester 3,310 girls and 1,440 boys aged 14 may have self-harmed during the same 12-month period.
Almost half of 14-year-olds who said they had been attracted to people of the same gender or both genders said they had self-harmed, analysis of the
Millennium Cohort Survey revealed. Four in 10 of these children had shown signs of depression and three in 10 had low well-being - both compared with 11 per cent of all children.