We want to raise funds to run our new ‘Who am I?’ course, so what help will it provide?
The pandemic has led to new challenges, and unprecedented numbers of young people are now experiencing mental health issues. A recent survey (September 2020), by ‘Young Minds’, of 2,011 young people found that 69% of respondents thought their mental health was poor and nearly a quarter (23%) thought that there was less mental health support available than before the pandemic. So, just at the time when more young people need help, many think there is less support for them. Be Me Project wants to address this.
Since Be Me Project started back in 2014 we've worked with hundreds of young people aged 13-18 years in Surrey and beyond, who have struggled with their mental wellbeing, to build self-esteem and confidence. We’ve worked with young people in schools, community centres and GP surgeries and we’re also delighted to now work in The Ashcombe, The Priory, Therfield and The Warrick schools, which means we’re able to support, listen to and encourage vulnerable young people in a way which is safe and convenient for them.
However, until now we’ve been unable to reach students who, perhaps because they're shielding or have heightened anxiety, haven’t been attending school. For these young people, struggles with mental wellbeing may be even greater because they feel more isolated and forgotten. We want to be able to reach out to these students and so we’ve worked to develop our new 'Who am I?' course, which can be run both online and face to face, enabling us to help all those in need of support, whether they’re currently attending school or not. We’ve named the course ‘Who am I?’, as we want to encourage our participants to think about who they really are, feel safe to talk about personal issues and learn how to cope better with the world's pressures.
We tested the course during lockdown, running it remotely via Zoom, and we received such positive feedback we now want to be able to run more.
What happens during a Who am I session?
Our 6 week 'Who am I?' course is discussion-led and each session has a different focus, looking at resilience, identity, influences, healthy eating, communication and goals. We encourage our participants to consider what the positive and negative impacts are on their lives and we help them to recognise that they are unique and each of them has their own wonderful and valuable qualities.
Each course is led by a Be Me Project leader who has experienced significant difficulties in their own life, which means they can better relate to the students' feelings and are empathetic and approachable - attributes which are incredibly important to us and the students. We want our students to feel comfortable and be able to open up in the sessions.
We use activities, videos and a booklet we've created, which we give to each participant, to aid discussion in the sessions. We then allow discussions to evolve naturally, as our experience has shown that when students feel more comfortable they participate more and gain more.
Since we’ve developed the course with flexibility in mind we can make sure that any students joining remotely are fully included in discussions, so they can still get as much out of the sessions as possible.
Who is offered a place on the Who am I course?
Referrals for Be Me Project courses are normally made by Heads of Department and pastoral teams at school. For Who am I?, we're also partnering with local GPs, so we can make sure we’re able to reach all those in need.
We like to keep the group sizes small and so there are a maximum of 6 spaces on each course, however at the moment, due to social distancing, we've reduced the group size to 4. If students wish to only attend virtually then we have the flexibility to increase the group size back up to 6 if appropriate.
How will we use the money raised?
We've worked incredibly hard to raise the funding for our courses ourselves and we're very proud that every penny we raise goes towards running our courses and that our schools and participants have not had to contribute financially – and we want that to continue.
Every £550 raised means we can run one extra Who am I? course, so reaching our target of £5,500 would mean that we can run 10 more courses over the next year, in addition to the 27 we already have funding for. This means that we would have the potential to reach up to 60 struggling students, to help them cope better.
What do our participants say about us?
‘It was really nice to meet up online during COVID and do the ‘Who am I’ book because lockdown was a very uncertain time with an uphill battle, so just knowing someone understood my mind and could guide me through was a massive relief and began to change my outlook on life at the time. One of the things I have learnt is that sometimes just being resilient is so important and not just giving up on the things I care about. I’m so grateful to Be Me as I now feel so much more comfortable and confident as a person.' – Year 9 student
'I struggle with anxiety and I am not a confident person, Be Me taught me to value myself and learn to control my worries.' - Year 9 Student
A final word from Lucy (Be Me Project co-founder)
Thank you so much for spending your time reading our crowdfunding page! Every penny is really important to us, as it means we can help young people even more, which is especially important in these challenging times.
As a leader on the 'Who am I?' course I've been able to see, first hand, the difference the course has made to our participants. So, whilst there is a need for this support, Be Me Project wants to be there for them.
Thank you for your support.