A committed team of Trustees have come together to launch a new charity in County Durham to help young people get the best possible start in life through empowerment and increasing personal self-esteem.
The Consett based charity, Building Self-Belief tackles the growing trend of mental health issues amongst school children and seeks to put in place strategies,support and advice to help them get the best possible start as they embark on adult life.
Education consultant, and Executive Trustee, Christine Thomas started her teaching career almost 25 years ago and worked in schools across the UK. She now runs ‘Everything English Education,” where she helps English departments deliver outstanding student progress by training staff at Primary and Secondary level.
Her time teaching and consulting in schools has driven her passion for helping young people improve their opportunities in life by increasing self-belief and addressing serious social issues in a positive and targeted way.
Stresses at school, peer pressure and an ever-changing society with conflicting expectations and limitations have placed immense pressure on today’s young people. Consequently, schools are now having to cope with a large increase in mental health issues with their students. Something that Christine has pledged to tackle with the new charity.
“Our programmes help to prevent mental health issues arising by providing children with the resilience and coping strategies they will require for the future. Sadly though, due to a squeeze on education and health budgets, many children are simply left to cope for themselves and in a lot of cases, their mental health may suffer,” she said.
“Currently, we primarily work with young people aged between 10 and 16, giving them real social experiences that will build up their self-confidence and self-esteem. These experiences are structured so that they have time to reflect and learn from their emotions. If they face challenging situations later in life they are better able to deal with the situation in a positive way.
“Our work not only helps the young people now but it will also have an effect in the future with their children and beyond. Having a positive attitude and the resilience to cope with whatever comes along can only be a good trait which can be passed from generation to generation.”
Building Self-Belief’s workshops and programmes for schools use a variety of content including team building activities, cultural projects and educational experiential visits as well as discussions, creative writing and self-reflection. Most recently, as a part of one of their programmes, the charity took a group of Year 10 students from Consett Academy on a high wire course to help build up their confidence levels.
In addition to traditional team building and confidence gaining activities, the charity also tackles many serious issues that are not on the school curriculum including bereavement, bullying, sleep deprivation and friendship issues – all subjects which can potentially have a major impact on a young person’s mental health and their future expectations from life.
Already, the charity has worked with a number of schools in the region including schools in Wallsend, Shiney Row and Consett.
Ms Mel Parker, Year Manager and Programme Support at Consett Academy said:
“The programme has had a real impact on the confidence and friendships of those who have taken part. From a group of nervous teenagers at the start I have seen them really flourish, both individually and as a team. They have really encouraged each other and their self-esteem has improved immensely.
Our students have taken full advantage of the opportunities for personal development that the Building Self-Belief team have provided, and I have no doubt that they will be better equipped to deal with any challenge they may face in the future.”
Building Self-Belief launched as a charity at an event in Durham attended by Mrs Sue Snowdon, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham where a short film was shown which introduced the charity and highlighted some of the young people who have benefited from its programmes.
“Many young people today suffer from a lack of aspiration and do not realise just how much they have to offer. We give these young people the opportunity to look at themselves for their own self- improvement and help them with strategies to manage their moods and emotions. Above all, we help them to appreciate that they have the potential for a bigger and brighter future,’ said Christine.
The charity’s next challenge is to fund an increase the number of programmes that it facilitates across the North East, while also addressing issues around youth unemployment and aspiration.