EmpowHER: Targeting well-being through Social Action

16 November 2018

  • Blog

Young women and girls in the UK are facing a well-being crisis of on a national scale. One in Four girls (24%) aged 14 reported feeling depressed. The Millennium Cohort Study (UCL 2017).

Only 25% of young members of GirlGuiding UK are ‘very happy’ in their daily lives. (2018 Girls Attitude Survey).

A staggering 68% increase in self harm admissions to A&E from young women over the last 10 years compared to a much lower increase of 26% amongst young men (UK Hospital Admissions over the past 10 years).



These alarming figures underpin a wider set of issues prevalent among young women; low confidence, low resilience and low well-being.  Here at UK Youth we are tackling these issues head on, with British Red Cross and the Young Women’s Trust, through our EmpowHER programme.


How does it work?

EmpowerHER aims to build young women and girls’ self-esteem and wellbeing by providing inclusive and meaningful social action opportunities to inspire them to lead change in their communities.

EmpowHER will ensure young women and girls who are most at risk of low wellbeing will have the opportunity to access and engage in meaningful social action through opportunities through the British Red Cross and wider community.


From research we know that young people engaged in social action report higher life satisfaction than those who are not (Ipsos Mori)….



…and that acts of kindness or volunteering help not only those around us but also reduce our own feelings of isolation and decrease negative emotions — positivity really is contagious (2012 – ‘Doing Good? Altruism and wellbeing in an age of austerity’ Mental Health Foundation).


Social action allows both the young girls and their communities to benefit from their social action projects.  Young people themselves often reflect on the rewarding sense of helping others, gaining skills and improving their confidence.  From the community perspective, along with the specific benefit of the projects themselves, the attitudes and limiting perceptions of young people often improve as a result of seeing young people’s contribution to the community.


We call this ‘the double benefit.’


By engaging young women in meaningful social action we will be tackling the worryingly low levels of well-being by encouraging and enabling a new generation of young women to use their voices and make the changes they want to see in society through engagement in their communities.

This project wouldn’t be possible without the generous funding from #iWill and Spirit of 2012, and all the hard work form those involved at UKYouth, the British Red Cross, Young Womens Trust and dozens of local delivery partners in the North, Mid and South West of England.

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