YOUNG people suffering from isolation or anxiety are being supported through the pandemic, thanks to a Wiltshire Community Foundation grant.

Kandu Arts in Chippenham is working with dozens of young people aged between 12 and 18 all over the county, including Swindon and Salisbury.

The not for profit group has been awarded £3,800 from the community foundation’s Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund to maintain contact with young people who would otherwise be receiving regular face to face contact from key workers.

Kandu works with social services, community groups and education teams across the county to support young people who might be struggling at school or in their community with a range of difficulties. “Some because they have emotional or behavioural difficulties, health and mental health difficulties, or are in a difficult family situation or have additional learning needs,” said founder Ed Deedigan.

The group also supports young carers, looked after children and people suffering from rural isolation.

Director Donna Lee said: “During term time we provide alternative provision, but we also run after school clubs and football engagement projects in the evenings and in holidays for young people.

“When the coronavirus happened, we had to continue the contact with young people with daily contact by phone and helping them with online learning. Also, they have access to their key workers by phone.

“We have also done that through the Easter holidays and will do so in the May holiday, the Wiltshire Community Foundation grant has helped us to carry on through the holidays and weekends and evenings.”

Ms Lee said it is important that the youngsters know they have someone to turn to. “It’s about consistency and continuity, particularly when young people are not at school. There isn’t the continuity of somebody knowing you, understanding you and being able to respond to your needs appropriately. Having had difficulties in school, their relationships all over the place may not be great, so it is important to have access to a trusted voice.

“We have young people with additional needs who are in large families and there is only one laptop to share, others with no access to outdoor areas or in families who are under stress due to mental health difficulties. Boredom in isolation is a factor and potentially there are young people have increased online access without anyone being able to check what they are doing.”

The group’s key workers can suggest coping mechanisms, wellbeing advice and even physical exercise routines to fend off boredom and boost confidence when there might be few other

encouraging words. “It can be about educational support, or somebody has split up with their online girlfriend or fallen out with their granny, it is a very broad range,” said Ms Lee.

“We can give them familiarity and if you are speaking to your key worker regularly that person understands the way you are working and the context of your world and your specific needs and language issues.”

The young people have been contributing songs and poems to a virtual open mic night every Wednesday at 8pm on Facebook. Said Mr Deedigan: “It is great fun and a good creative outlet; the young people have really enjoyed it.”

Find out more about the group at or on its Facebook page.

To donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund or to find out how to apply for a grant, go to