Jill Scott: Young people are navigating complex challenges now more than ever

Retired football player Jill Scott has said “young people are having to navigate more and more complex challenges” following a visit to a BBC Children In Need-funded project in Greater Manchester.

The former England footballer, 37, paid a visit to Community On Solid Ground, a charity that delivers a range of sports, mentoring, and youth activities to help empower young people.

Scott said: “It was great to meet with the fantastic youth workers at Community On Solid Ground and it was eye-opening to see the impact of preventative action and putting role models in place to support young people through pivotal life moments.

Jill Scott visit to Manchester youth project
Footballer Jill Scott plays table football during a visit to Community On Solid Ground (Peter Byrne/PA)

“As a BBC Children in Need Ambassador, I know that positive relationships hold the power to change the trajectory of a young person’s life and it was great to see this in motion.”

She added: “Not every young person has someone they can go to, to confide in.

“This could mean they sit with their issues, letting them build up and then carrying that weight on their shoulders.

“However, we know this weight can be lessened through having a simple conversation, that is why access to trusted mentors is so important.

Jill Scott visit to Manchester youth project
Jill Scott is a Children In Need Ambassador (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It is great to see young people at Community On Solid Ground be encouraged to share their own experiences and also engage in discussions to take in other perspectives, to tackle issues such as racism and bullying.

“Now more than ever, young people are having to navigate more and more complex challenges in their everyday lives and now is the time to act”, she said.

“I am delighted to be backing this campaign, which will enable BBC Children In Need to make a positive difference to the lives of even more children and young people across the UK.”

During her visit Scott met with the charity’s chief executive Majid Dar to learn about how they influence the lives of young people in the area.

Dar said: “We work in the heart of the community in south and central Manchester where there can be a range of issues facing young people.

Jill Scott visit to Manchester youth project
Jill Scott met project workers during her visit (Peter Byrne/PA)

“We have children who are doing really well at the project, and then we have other young people who have got involved in petty crime, anti-social behaviour or drugs, so we make sure we address those issues with them and support them to make better choices and keep them safe.”

BBC Children In Need has partnered up with fundraiser Omaze to fund more critical youth work projects in the UK.

Omaze has guaranteed a minimum donation of £1 million from the partnership and is giving away a house in Dorset worth £2.5 million – along with £100,000 in cash – to raise funds for youth work projects across the UK.

Scott hung up her boots in August 2022 after making 161 appearances and scoring 27 goals for England, and was part of the Lionesses’ European Championships triumph in 2022.