Youth Wellbeing Champions – Children’s Mental Health Week

Published Wednesday 9 February 2022 at 9:19

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week (February 7-13) and across Blackburn and Darwen young people have been making a difference for our communities’ wellbeing.

Children between 12 -18 have been trained as champions for their schools or community settings.

This weekend, you can meet some of these young people who are manning a stall in Blackburn Mall on Saturday February 12.

Blackburn with Darwen now has eleven young people acting as Wellbeing Champions offering peer support, mentoring in emotional health, and signposting to wellbeing resources and services.

champions lineup

The peer mentor project was initiated, co-designed and delivered by our Youth Forum, Young People’s Services (YPS), Public Health and Re-Align Futures in response to ongoing reports of the negative impact the pandemic restrictions on young people’s mental health.

Over a year ago young people from the BwD Youth Forum created a questionnaire regarding the impact of covid on their mental health. Deputy Youth MP Muhammed Bapu presented the findings at The Children’s Partnership Board. Muhammed fed back that young people would prefer to speak to their friends and peers regarding emotional health and well-being. BwD Public Health successfully secured national funding from the Better Mental Health grant last summer to recruit, train and supervise school based youth Wellbeing Champions in our secondary schools, and commissioned Re-align Futures to co-design a Wellbeing Champions project with young people from across the borough.

Fifteen young people participated in a three day residential to co-design the Wellbeing Champions project along with evidence based world leading suicide intervention training (safeTALK) and other well-being workshops. They created the name and logo of the project.

Youth Wellbeing Champions

Eleven of the group who co-designed the program successfully completed their two day training last weekend at Kaleidoscope Youth Centre. They are now fully qualified Wellbeing Champions who can support their friends and peers in their communities. The young people will meet regularly and participate in further workshops and events whilst being supported directly by Dawn Hardman from Re-Align Futures.

The Wellbeing Champions are also supported by their school senior leadership and pastoral teams (from the participating schools of Blackburn Central, Our Lady and St John, and Tauheedul Girls) along with ongoing support from Re-Align Futures, to ensure the young people thrive in their new roles.

Our fully qualified Wellbeing Champions – now active and enjoying their new roles – are equipped with bespoke designed lanyards and pin badges to ensure they are recognised by their peers and staff.

Blackburn with Darwen’s Executive member for Wellbeing Councillor Damian Talbot said:

This is fantastic effort by our young people. So many people’s lives are affected by mental health issues. Talking openly in our communities about the problems people face can make a big difference. Improving mental health is a key priority for the Council.

school wellbeing champions line up

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