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New Wellbeing Programme

22 March 2021

In a recent Berkshire Youth survey of almost 700 local young people, 77% of respondents stated that mental health and wellbeing are one of the most important issues facing them and other young people at the moment, with school, education and exams coming a close second at 73%.

Berkshire Youth recognises the enormous challenges young people have faced over the last year and that many are still struggling. This week we are launching a new Wellbeing Programme for students across West Berkshire secondary schools.

The Wellbeing Programme builds on the initial pilot from earlier this year, coordinated by West Berkshire School Improvement Advisor and former Park House Headteacher Derek Peaple, incorporating feedback from both staff and students. These changes will further improve the support available to young people and empower them to make sustained changes to their wellbeing.

Thanks to funding from Greenham Trust and Berkshire Community Foundation, Berkshire Youth has been able to work with leading education technology company Aspire 2Be to create an offer for all West Berkshire secondary schools at a vastly reduced cost. Schools will each receive a briefing webinar for two members of staff plus two webinars for up to 50 young people. These young people will then be able to access the Wellbeing Tracker tool plus bespoke e-Tutorial programme with content based on age specific topics and pressure points. Each student will therefore receive support through the Wellbeing App tailored to their own individual needs.

The first webinar looks at Optimising Mental Wellbeing. This session focuses on the positive side of mental health and the promotion of activities linked to the prevention of poor health outcomes. The second webinar explores the science behind sleep and how it affects defence systems such as the immune system.

Colin Leslie, youth worker at Berkshire Youth who attended the pilot Virtual Wellbeing Programme, said: “This programme was very informative and well-presented, highlighting how and why our wellbeing can be compromised and how, with some diagnosis, we can work out some easy steps to better our own mental health and wellbeing.”

Youth worker, Kelly Leach, added: “This was a refreshing way of discussing mental health with young people in a way that is relevant to them and in a way that gives young people the tools to act independently. The questions asked by students at the end of each session showed how much they had been listening and learning, whilst also highlighting their enthusiasm to take that learning on board and attempt to implement it within their lifestyles.”

David Seward, CEO of Berkshire Youth, commented: “We are thrilled to be able to offer this excellent programme to local young people in their schools at a time of such great need. In our recent survey, written by young people for young people, 58% of respondents said that their mental health had worsened during the pandemic. I believe that this programme will go a long way to personally address this and empower young people to take control in a way that is most beneficial offering positive activities and relevant tools to support young people.”

Derek Peaple added: “The Berkshire Youth Wellbeing Programme offer to West Berkshire schools is using technology creatively and proactively to meet the key needs of young people in the recovery from lockdown. It could not be more appropriate, or more timely.”

Chris Boulton, CEO of Greenham Trust, said: “We have all heard about the impact that a year of Coronavirus measures has had on the mental health of young people. Greenham Trust is therefore delighted to have been able to provide funding towards Berkshire Youth’s Wellbeing Programme to deliver expertise, guidance and support on mental health issues to pupils and teachers in their school environments.”

Jon Yates, CEO of Berkshire Community Foundation, added: “The past twelve months have placed an incredible strain on young people’s mental health, yet the resilient way in which they have responded to the pandemic and lockdown are a testament to their strength and potential. The support they have been able to receive from local organisations has been crucial and we are delighted to support Berkshire Youth in the launch of this new programme. I am sure it will empower young people with the knowledge and tools to take charge of and improve their wellbeing, through these continuingly tough times.”

Aspire 2Be Wellbeing Lead, Andries Pretorius, said: “Since the start of the pandemic we have seen a surge in requests for wellbeing support and there is no sign of this slowing down as we come out of lockdown. However, in many cases intervention strategies have been about reaction rather than prevention. This is what excites me about the Berkshire Youth project. By equipping young people with knowledge about how the human brain works and how daily lifestyle choices about physical activity, nutrition and sleep can impact positively on both our physical and mental health we are not only preventing poor health outcomes but giving them the tools to unlock their wider potential.”

Berkshire Youth established the award-winning Berkshire Youth Hubs last year to support young people, parents and the community through the pandemic, with funding partner Greenham Trust. The West Berkshire pilot was such a success that it was rolled out across the rest of the county. The charity aims to do the same with this Wellbeing Programme.

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