Tag Archives: Mental health

Big Sis C.I.C reach £18,000 in community fundraiser

By Affinity May

Big Sis C.I.C have already raised £18,000 to support girls’ mental health in the South West – but they still need your help!

Big Sis C.I.C is a South West based organisation supporting young girls in their mental health and wellbeing. Their work involves ‘helping girls across the South West during and post Covid-19 to develop confidence and resilience whilst preparing for puberty‘.

One in eight young women between the ages of 17-19 struggle with suicidal tendencies in the UK. Big Sis C.I.C’s work with primary school aged girls is important in helping to bring this statistic down for future generations.

Big Sis C.I.C is currently raising money to launch its Plymouth Pilot programme, ‘Big Sis Mental Health Mentoring Programme’, in schools across the city. They have already successfully reached their inital target of £18,000 and have now set a stretch target of £25,000.

By donating to their community fundraiser you will allow them to reach two thousand and twenty girls in schools across the region and work with them on the areas of emotional literacy and menstrual education, as well as training 300 student volunteers to be mentors for the programme and pay for their advanced DBS checks.

This programme offers a safe place for girls to ask questions and discuss the topic of growing up. A lot of young girls struggle with mental health issues in regard to body image and confidence. One of Big Sis C.I.C’s main focuses is to ease the puberty transition period, as this is a crucial time where girls need as much support as possible.

The programme consists of 12 different workshops, focusing on everything from menstrual cycle education and body positivity, to emotional literacy, mental health awareness and games to identify feelings.

Alongside directly supporting young girls in developing good mental health, Big Sis C.I.C also equip immediate support networks with useful information. Parents, carers, teachers, and schools are all provided with helpful resources through workshops and programmes, helping them to feel confident in supporting girls while they go through the major life change of puberty.

The programme will also create local opportunities for young women studying education degrees to volunteer and learn new skills as a Big Sis Mentor.

Big Sis C.I.C have received wonderful feedback from the public on their previous work. Commenting on a Big Sis workshop, Sara, a mother, said: “it has transformed the relationship with both of my daughters, broken a taboo. I feel so much closer to them”.

Ten year old Lilly also commented: “Discussing periods with strangers was going to be the most embarrassing experience ever, but it was fun, I learnt a lot and I really enjoyed it in the end.” 

And Mark, a father, said, “puberty is a big change in their lives and it will affect their future and their relationships forever”.

Big Sis C.I.C’s Plymouth Pilot programme will reduce the uncertainty, fears, and anxiety that arise for many young girls as they enter puberty, as well as strengthening girl to girl bonds. The more money they raise, the more work they can do in helping to support the mental health of girls growing up in our city.

You can donate to their fundraiser by following the link below.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/big-sis-girl-to-girl-mentoring

Life in Lockdown: Amber Weeks

By Amber Weeks

What is life in lockdown to me? You would think that was a simple enough question to answer, wouldn’t you? But it’s not. Lockdown has been weird – there have been days where I have completely forgotten about it and then there have been days that I can’t seem to get it off my mind. I have been spending lockdown alone, as my flat mate went home to be with her family. So, it has been a little hard to not go crazy and start talking to my bedside lamp like it’s a person.

Lockdown has been strange; I don’t know what to do with myself now, but to be honest not much about my daily life has changed. I suffer badly from mental health and can go days, even weeks without leaving my house, but as I started to get better and forcing myself to leave my house regularly, this lockdown came into place. I feel all the work I’ve done has been wiped away and I am back to being trapped within these same walls and inside my head again.

But instead of allowing this time to let me go completely insane, and to avoid talking to the appliances in my house, I have been keeping myself occupied. I have been having regular dance parties around my room for exercise and, unfortunately for my new neighbours, have dug out the Wii and the Sing It games again. I have been singing as loudly as I can, again unfortunately for next door! I am very bad, but it helps to get out my frustrations. I even tried singing High School Musical duets on my own – I would say it didn’t end well.

I binged watched Netflix, played video games into the early hours of the morning and just wasted each day for the first two weeks of the lockdown. But after being trapped inside for twenty days I decided I needed to get some sort of order to my life. I started going to bed early and waking up early, getting dressed, doing housework and started to do my assignments for uni. I even decided to start a blog and be constructive with my days. Even deciding to get out of my pyjamas and get dressed is a debate everyday as it seems pointless, but I can now see the value in such a simple task.

These days are scary and confusing, but it is hard to really grasp the serenity of it all until someone you know is affected by it. When this first began my grandmother was rushed into hospital for a few days, but thankfully she was given the all clear and sent home. But it wasn’t long afterwards that I got a message from my dad – he had tested positive and wasn’t well. I felt my whole world stop and panic wash over me. At first, I just thought that the media was doing what it does best and making this sound more dramatic than it is. It wasn’t until it affected my family that I understood. Thankfully my dad is getting better and beating corona. With him living in Scotland I wouldn’t have been able to see him regardless of the lockdown or not. However, it’s been horrible to know that if any of my local friends and family got sick, I wouldn’t be able to visit them.

I understand these times are hard for everyone for different reasons, but I feel this is also a time that people can join together with support for eachother, and grow. I personally am using this time to expand and grow with my creative writing and focus on uni, without the normal distractions. These times are hard, so to answer, ‘What is lockdown to me?’, isn’t simple. It’s a struggle every day to not allow loneliness to overtake me and let my depression set in but I also am using this time to be positive and work on myself as a person. I believe everyone should be grateful to each other for accepting and following the lockdown to keep each other’s families safe.

Life in Lockdown: ‘Life as a Quaran’teen’

By Affinity May

The dramatic change that the recent lockdown has brought to the UK is undoubtedly an incredibly hard situation to get our heads around. It has affected the lives of every individual – through the standstill of industries, manufacturing, businesses, job losses and the legal rules and requirements of every citizen. However one topic that the media are not focusing on is the effect it is having on teenagers.

As quoted in the World Economic Forum, a psychologist dwelled on the idea that this lockdown may actually allow opportunities for young people to get more creative whilst under such strict rules. Kayleigh Smith, a seventeen year old student, has started to develop a small business called ‘Smith Accessories’ where she sells keyrings and lanyards, mainly in Disney designs. Creating her own logo, planning the small business and how to get publicity, she successfully started up her small innovative idea. (Her business can be viewed on Instagram via @smith.accessories). There are countless other examples like this, but without doubt the younger generation are shown to be using technology creatively to stay connected, motivated and to keep their spirits high.

Teenagers, who in this age are profoundly technological and are coming into their identity, are regularly asserting themselves against social pressures. The lockdown coming into action has created a trending hashtag among teenagers – #findyourself – convincing teens to start working on bettering themselves now that they have time, and motivating them to focus on becoming their own individual. Teenagers have been posting body transformations where they show their small journey of becoming healthier through exercise. Scarlett Anderson, sixteen years of age, shared, “Since this lockdown started I began working out to start on my ‘summer body’ but as time went by I realised that I was feeling so refreshed that I developed a small structured timetable and jotted down my progressions of working out, I then got motivated to learn how to cook nutritional meals – both something that I would never have done if this lockdown didn’t happen” Scarlett is not alone in the idea of ‘body transformations’ – teenagers all across the internet share their ideas, plans and progressions. In reference to this there are lockdown exercise challenges which teenagers can do in the comfort of their own home while supporting each other. 

However, the social distancing measures that have been implemented have caused disruptions of future plans as well as daily routines. As of the 20th March, UK schools were closed to most pupils (remaining open to vulnerable children only, such as those whose parents are key workers). Over 90% of enrolled learners worldwide are now out of education. For teenagers with mental health issues these closures cause an inadequacy of connections to services that they may need to keep well. These could be facilities such as councillors, distractions, mediators etc. The charity YoungMinds surveyed young people in the UK on these issues. 83% of the students who took part said that the pandemic had made their conditions worse and 26% said they were unable to access mental health support. It should also be considered that an important coping mechanism for teenagers is their daily routine – including their school time tables and structures. Now there are no organisations in teenagers’ lives. Teenagers with special educational needs, for example autism, are particularly likely to become uncomfortable when their daily routines are disrupted and changed.

One big uncertainty in the majority of teenagers’ lives at the moment is the cancellation of the summer GCSE and A-level exams. Years of studying and working hard, but ending with no final exams as expected, can cause great discomfort to students. The unknown of the future is causing large amounts of stress and worry. Rebecca Hill, age 17, said, “Knowing that I may not be able to move forward with my future plans because I cannot sit my exams have caused so much stress on my mental health. I was reliant on my A-levels to allow me to move forward.”

On the other hand the impact that this lockdown has had on some teenagers’ lives has been positive. Now that they have more time to spend with families, relationships can be developed and strengthened. Many teenagers have found themselves venturing outside their room and interacting with their loved ones more than usual during the lockdown, most probably due to boredom – but maybe it’s allowing them to realise the importance of family. Saby Lenard, age 15, said, “I’ve started spending more time with my parents, especially my mum who has been encouraging me to create music, just like we used to when I was younger. I forgot just how much I loved spending time with them and I am thankful that this lockdown has opened my eyes to it and allowed me to realise the importance of family”. The majority of teenagers I spoke to admitted that they have found a new sense of happiness and comfort from being able to spend more time with their family. Some even regretted the amount of time that they spent on their phone or outside of the house, and away from their families, before the lockdown was announced.