“WE work with so many young people,” said Johanna Bryant.

“Our core business is supporting the child, the young person, but actually it always has that beautiful ripple effect.

“You might be working with a child but actually, if the child is positively affected, then that can affect the family unit, affect the school, affect the local community.

“So you’re having that beautiful outward ripple of positivity.

“If you’ve got 300 children, you’ve got 300 families, you’ve got 300 school classes that are all affected by that change in behaviour. So it’s not just that 300, it ripples out to affect lots, lots more.”

Thanks to a support from a variety of organisations, and notably the recent £96,000 grant from Global Media Group’s Make Some Noise charity, the Swindon charity aims to help even more young people.

It was founded in 1984. Although still officially Swindon 10 to 18 Project, it is usually known as Step, reflecting the fact that it helps people as young as seven.

It offers what Johanna terms therapeutic interventions for young people who struggle because of a lack of social skills or other adverse circumstances, such as challenging home lives.

Referrals are often made by professionals such as teachers, but attendance at Step - 20 hours spread over two weeks - is entirely voluntary.

“We put that child into a group with other children who perhaps have similar identifiable needs, and we deliver very bespoke intervention to try and meet the collective needs of that group.”

Some exercises, for example, are aimed at young people who have difficulty communicating effectively at home, school or both.

One, for children, involves splitting them into two groups.

One, the communicators, are in another room with a Lego model and must visit the other group, the builders, who have a pile of bricks and must build an identical model based on the communicators’ instructions.

“It’s all about building your skills, building your resilience and learning to say, ‘Do you know what – if I communicated that a bit better things might have gone differently. It’s about trying to guide young people to make the right choices.”

Some of the children who come to Steps have issues such as ADHD or are on the autism spectrum, while others, according to Johanna, have other reasons for finding communication difficult and suffering frustration as a result.

“I think it is perhaps to do with modern life, perhaps to do with the fact that the children of the generation we’re raising live a lot of their life online.

“When I was a child, if I wanted to see somebody I would have to make the effort to go and see them. If a child needs to speak to somebody or see somebody now, they don’t actually have to get out of their bedroom.

“I think some children have lost the art of direct contact – they don’t know how to do it.

“Because the children are volunteering to come here, they’re choosing to make a difference. They’ve already made that positive choice and so have their families.

“We’re not social workers and we’re not teachers. What we are is an independent charity with positive adult role models which give a guide. We’re not an institution.

“Families engage with us so well, I think, because they feel that we’re non-threatening, we’re there to be a positive influence and we’re there to support and help them and guide them.”

Currently about 90 percent of families whose children use the service say it has had a positive impact.

Of the many success stories, Johanna remembers one in particular.

“The mother said, ‘My daughter has learned to be happy again, and so our whole family is now happy.’

“That child had had quite low self-esteem and been identified as having mental health issues, and by that young person identifying positive things about herself and learning to be happy in her own wellbeing, that affected the whole family unit. Happiness is infectious, actually!”

Step welcomes inquiries from families, professionals and volunteers, and can be reached on 01793 714042 and via swindonstep.org.uk