The Dudley Young Health Champions Project went live in September 2016. The project is funded by Dudley CCG and Dudley Office for Public Health, based within Healthwatch Dudley and hosted by Dudley CVS. The project aims to provide youth-led and creative opportunities for young people aged 11-25 to become Young Health Champions and get involved in a variety of health based projects and activities. The aim is to increase young people’s resilience and give greater access to accurate and young person focused information on health related matters. To date the project has a network of over 85 Young Health Champions who are involved in a variety of schools, colleges and voluntary sector services. Projects range from group activities to one off campaigns, fundraising and awareness raising. The project provides a bridge between young people and decision makers so that young people have the opportunity to have their voices heard and influence future services. A large part of the project focuses around the increasing challenges to mental health that young people experience. The project has a regular volunteer Becky who whilst developing her own projects manages the DYHC blog and Twitter page -Faye Hall (Dudley Young Health Champion’s Project Coordinator.)
I’m Becky, I’m a 19 year old girl and before volunteering with DYHC, I had completed a 3 month course with The Princes Trust and was then referred to the project through Just Straight Talk to help build and develop my confidence after struggling with severe mental health difficulties for 7/8 years of my life which affected aspects of my life including my education. Due to facing constant battles in my day to day life I find communicating with other people and having the confidence to do ‘simple’ things incredibly difficult. I have been involved with Dudley Young Health Champions since May/June 2017 and volunteer 2-3 days per week. As Faye said above, I administrate the project blog and twitter page and help lead and plan youth led projects. In November/ December I organised a Christmas collection for the homeless to support Vi Wood from Leslie’s Care Packages and we had an amazing outcome and are now collecting baby essentials for mums and mums to be as part of Vi’s next project. I have held 2 bake sales in order to raise money for YoungMinds Charity and have also helped run Get Cooking sessions over the summer of 2017. I have attended various high level meetings with professionals including the Children’s Safeguarding board as well as completing many different training sessions such as Thrive and ASIST (led by Papyrus). I have been part of the Children’s Alliance Strategy and the Suicide Prevention Strategy. Myself and Faye were invited to the ITV Studios in London with the Fixers organisation to join a campaign on ‘Fixing My Anxiety’ and took part in the Neon Run for Mary Stevens Hospice along with HealthWatch staff.
I have been working on an arts- based project with Faye where I have created 11 paintings that each portray different emotions and feelings a person with a mental illness may experience and that I have experienced myself throughout my battle. Feelings such as anxiety, depression, isolation and shame, each paining is being turned into a post card and have a descriptive narrative on the reverse as well as ways to manage and a positive affirmation. Once I had completed the paintings, myself and Faye started to work with the Fixers organisation who are helping me create a 2-3 minute video where my artwork will be displayed on a backdrop, an actress will be acting out different movements and a dialogue will be played. Once the pack is all put together, we will be holding a launch in March time and the pack will be distributed amongst services such as CAMHS, GP surgeries, schools and youth based organisations.
Along with another Young Health Champion, I was awarded with the Ray McGuirk Young Volunteer of the Year at the DVA’s 2017. I have been given so many opportunities since being a part of the project and there are a lot more ahead of me!