Time to Change Young Champions Training

In September I attended the Time to Change training weekend for Young Champions. The night before and most of the journey down I was very nervous about attending. Everything seemed to be trying to stop me from attending, from not being able to collect my train tickets, my contactless card not being read by the tube, going to a different station than I had planned and then getting lost. But having been to previous Time to Change events I knew it would be an amazing weekend and I was determined to get there!

From the moment I arrived I felt welcome and safe. I can’t describe what it feels like to be in a room full of 80 young people all with lived experience of mental illness. It is incredibly inspiring to hear other young peoples journeys through their mental illness, whatever stage they may be at.

As a Young Champion I will be sharing my own experience online and in schools, sharing posts about mental health and its importance and also raising awareness of the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

There were many tears and moments when  I heard other peoples stories and thought ‘I remember those days/that feeling’. But there were also so many happy moments and as a result I was able to reflect on where I am now and how I have got here. To be able to sit and eat lunch in the sunshine, chat about my experiences and listen to others stories. I also felt able to take 5 minutes out to get a cup of tea when I just needed some time. Both things a few years ago would never have happened.

Throughout October I will be posting updates about what I am doing as a Young Champion and how you can get involved so please check back 🙂

 

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A year since the start of my Team v adventure

It was a year ago that I was on the train to London for Team v’s welcome and induction day, how quickly has that gone? After only completing my interview two days before I was caught up in a whirlwind of excitement and it hadn’t quite sunk in that I had been successful. To get to the point where I was accepted was a success in itself for me and did not come easily.

Fast forward a year to now and I am happier, healthier and more confident than I could ever have imagined a year ago. I’ve completed tasks I never thought I would able to do such as running workshops in schools and talking on the radio. In the past year I’ve visited London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Coventry and Swindon.

This new found confidence has helped in all areas of my life. Academically, Team v has helped me to progress too. I am now studying a Health and Social Care course, I will be taking part in a 3 day first aid course which starts tomorrow and next week I begin my BSL course. This wouldn’t have been possible without the Team v Scholarship. I am happier than I have ever been, partly down to all of the amazing opportunities I’ve taken part in and also because of allowing myself to feel the love my family have for me.

Volunteering wise, I have taken part in residential camps for children with serious illnesses and with children who are deafblind. Both of these have been inspiring and I can’t wait to volunteer later this year with some similar organisations. My CV is now full of experience and finding new opportunities is so much easier.

I think it is important to look at how far you’ve come occasionally. It’s too easy to get caught up in chasing your dreams that you forget to look at how much has changed already. A big thank you has to go to my amazing family, I wouldn’t be doing what I am now without their support and encouragement. As well as the Team v staff who believed in me and supported me throughout the programme.

Next week I will be taking part in vInspired Ambassador training. This is something I am very excited about and will be writing more about over the upcoming weeks. I have loads of new and exciting opportunities over the next few months and I am sure this next year will be even better than the last.

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StoryCamp #1

On Thursday I will be attending StoryCamp, a day of workshops organised by the charity Time to Change. Time to Change is a charity tackling mental health stigma and discrimination. Everyone has mental health, just like we have physical health. However, often people do not talk about their mental health and struggle to get the help they deserve, through misunderstanding and fear of what other people may think. One in ten young people will experience a mental health problem.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to meet many young people who are also interested in mental health and hearing their stories. I will be sharing my own experiences, something which will be new to me. I know it will be a fantastic day and my nerves will pass as soon as the day begins.

I will be posting an update of the day on here next week but if you’d like to follow us on the day please check out #StoryCamp and this StoryCamp. This is the start of a new journey, a new range of blog posts and hopefully I will learn a lot along the way.

Talking about mental illness can be difficult, as can supporting someone through their journey of recovery. It can be incredibly scary at first and full of ‘what if’s…’. What if I’m not good enough? What if I am too fat/too thin? What if they think badly of me? I am sure everyone knows these questions.

So here is a little quote to remind you that you are enough & you are amazing 🙂

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I am enough…

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At the start of July I spent a week in Scotland, volunteering as a Team Mate on Over the Wall’s Scotland camp for children with serious illnesses. Over the next few days I will be writing more about my experience of camp and what I have learnt but this seemed the perfect place to start.

I learnt a very important lesson at camp – I am enough. I am good enough to chase after my dreams, to make a difference in peoples lives and I am worthy enough of friendship, love and happiness.

On the last night our Team Leader asked us to write down a fear we had at the start of camp, both the campers and volunteers and asked us if anyone wanted to share. At that moment I wasn’t ready to share but I am now. My fear before camp was that I wouldn’t be enough. That I wouldn’t be good enough for camp, that I wouldn’t be able to support the campers like they needed, that I wouldn’t be as good as the other volunteers as I am not as loud and confident as them. How wrong was I?

Learning as much as I did wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the amazing Blue Girls volunteer team who not only encouraged and allowed me to be myself but reassured me that what I was doing was important and that my individuality was needed. I felt safe to try new things, push myself out of my comfort zone, sing silly songs as we walked around camp whilst wearing face paint and have the most fun I have ever had. A huge thank you to you all and to all of the Over the Wall volunteers and staff I met that week.

Please check back over the next few days to see more of the exciting adventures of camp and how it has changed my outlook on life. We can all do whatever we want to do and be who we want to be. But most importantly always remember to do whatever makes you happy and that you are always enough.

P.S. Always remember – You are amazing!

Day 7/100 of Summer Happy

Today has been filled with sun, colouring, ice cream, walking in the park and even more sun 🙂WP_20150607_002

In case you hadn’t guessed I love spending time outside in the sun. It makes me happy almost immediately and with
my new found hobby of colouring I can do two things at once that make me happy. What’s not to like? Adult colouring has taken off recently, with many people now spending a lot of money on colouring books and expensive pens. For me, colouring is a way of staying calm and releasing stress. It is something I can do almost regardless of my pain levels which makes it very useful on bad pain days. It is also teaching me about patience, of which I have very little! It is something I am working on and hope to improve over the next few months. Here is a photo of my latest piece, I have spent roughly 2 hours on this already and it probably still has at least another hour or so until it is complete.

This afternoon I went for a walk to the park with my boyfriend which I always enjoy. But today was extra special as I packed us a surprise picnic and we sat on the grass, ate lunch and ice cream too. We must have spent over an hour enjoying the sunshine and as soon as I got home I went straight out in the garden to soak up yet more sun!

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I’ve had a wonderful weekend and can’t believe I am at the end of week 1 of my 100 happy days of summer posts. This summer is going to fly by but I know I am going to meet some amazing people, create lasting memories and learn more about myself and those around me. I am excited 🙂

P.S. Always remember – You are amazing!

Day 6/100 of Summer Happy

11414555_10152795955497062_1107478399_nSaturday was the happiest of days and I just know there are many more of these happy days to come. Around lunchtime I met up with some beautiful friends. We sat together, drank hot chocolate and chatted and I left feeling lighter, almost as if some of the stress I’ve been feeling had been taken away. Sometimes time with friends can fix us and this was one of those times ❤

In the afternoon I spent some happy time walking around town and shopping. I had to resist the urge to buy lots of blue bits for Over the Wall camp! I can’t believe that it is less than 4 weeks until I will be in Scotland… scary and exciting!

In the evening I was sent the quote above: ‘Neither look forward where there is doubt, nor backward where there is regret. Look inward, and ask not is there anything outside that you want, but is there anything inside that you have not yet unpacked’. I love quotes and little bits of inspiration like this. It helps me to remember who I am and what I want in life. Check out my Goals page for some of the things I would like to achieve this year 🙂

If you could do anything, what would it be? And what is stopping you? Would love to know your thoughts, please share them in the comments section below.

P.S. Always remember – You are amazing!

 

Day 3/100 of Summer Happy

Wednesday 3rd June – This week  seems to be flying by! How is it Wednesday evening already?

Today has been a very happy and stress free day. We decided to hold off on moving house for this month which has taken a huge pressure off this month and means I can properly look forward to the next few weeks.

My photo for today is of a certificate I received from Caudwell Children earlier this week. Caudwell is an amazing charity who I have had the pleasure of volunteering with for just over a year now. I started as a short breaks volunteer and then became a fundraiser for the charity which I enjoyed massively. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to volunteer for them regularly recently but I hope to get back to it over the summer.

I learnt a lot during my time as a short breaks volunteer and fundraiser. Most importantly, not to get disheartened if people don’t respond to you! I would regularly send out over a hundred emails and only receive a handful back. At the start I worried I was doing something wrong but it is just because everyone is so busy with their own lives and work that messages get missed or people can’t donate for whatever reason. I also learnt how important building relationships with those you are helping can be. I will always remember watching a few teenage girls change their behaviour as they learnt new skills and made friends with others in the group.

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This evening I spent time with my boyfriend. We watched a movie, had tea and enjoyed spending time together. Today started off as a bad pain day but it is amazing what reducing stress and taking a day off can do.

How is your week going? How are you? Please let me know in the comments below 🙂

P.S. Always remember – You are amazing!

Day 2/100 of Summer Happy

Tuesday 2nd June was a wonderful day 🙂

It began with a lazy morning relaxing with my boyfriend followed by sending some very important paperwork off. I then spent some time baking these cakes for Tango later that evening:

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I always enjoy my evenings at Tango, whether I am dancing or just there helping out. Last night I was able to join in with both classes. This is a huge achievement as only a few weeks ago I would have had to stop after one of the classes or even just one dance. I think the warm weather is helping and am excited to see what the next few weeks bring.

After Tango I spent some time chatting to a friend which made me so happy. Before talking to her I felt swamped, with so much going on over the next few months, I didn’t know what to do first. Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement that everything will be okay. Recently, I have realised just how important it is not to judge anyone. We all have our own pasts and struggles and these things are important. They help to make us who we are today. I can guarantee however you feel right now, whether that is happy, sad, stressed, unwell, loved or any other feeling – there is someone else feeling the same way. Take comfort in that thought & ask yourself what would you say to this person. Treat yourself kindly as you are so worth it 🙂

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P.S. Always remember – You are amazing!

How to stay political

Over the past few weeks I have been part of the Team v campaign ‘Swing the Vote’ which aimed to increase the number of young voters and raise political understanding. It is so important to remember that politics doesn’t end with the election.

Politics is so often only talked about in either the run up to the elections or in a negative way. It is vital everyone is aware of how they can stay involved and make a difference throughout the year, not just when it comes to voting.

So how can you stay political?

It is so easy! Simply write to your local MP by email, post or on social media or visit them at one of their surgeries to raise an issue that is important to you. You can share political posts on your social media pages, with friends, family & work colleagues. Why not get together with a group of like minded people and share your interest in politics and create your own change?

If you are unsure of who your local MP is please take a look here.

How am I going to stay political?

Before the start of the ‘Swing the Vote’ campaign my political knowledge was very limited! It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, I was, but I found finding information for myself time consuming and difficult to understand. I didn’t appreciate how much politics affects my daily life. Over the past few weeks I have been very lucky to learn so much and this has inspired me to continue learning and hopefully make a difference in a small way.

This week I will be writing to my local MP and sharing what is important to me in my local community. Check back here shortly for an update on that.

I will also be running workshops in a local Secondary school and a stall in a local library to raise awareness of why political understanding is important. I will be asking young people whether or not they voted and why. I think this is so important as without knowing why someone chose to vote or not vote we cannot help educate people for when the next election arrives.

If you’d like to see what Team v leaders and volunteers have been up to during this campaign, as well as many young people, check out #swingthevote on twitter.

So, what are you waiting for? Send that tweet, write that status or email or letter, share that issue with your friends and family that has been niggling away at you since the election now 🙂

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Mental Health Awareness Week 11th – 17th May

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation, help to raise awareness of Mental health by focussing on one topic in particular and this year it is Mindfulness. There is such a stigma attached to mental health which makes it all the more important to talk about it openly.

Sometimes people get confused about what we mean when we talk about mental health. Everyone has mental health, whether it be good mental well-being or mental ill-health. It is something that isn’t really talked about much but is so important. Mental health is just as important as physical health and doesn’t always stay the same, just like sometimes we are physically poorly, it is possible to be mentally unwell sometimes too. Mental health can change due to circumstances or at different points throughout your life.

So what is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is all about focussing your thoughts on the current moment and your experiences and feelings at that moment in time. For example, if you are eating try focussing on the taste and texture of the food, how it feels in your mouth and what your reactions are to the food. When you are washing up try to focus on the temperature of the water, the shape and feeling of the object you are cleaning, the way your hands feel in the water.

To find out more about mindfulness please click here.

What does it mean to me?

Mindfulness is something I have recently been introduced to and am enjoying learning more about whenever I get the opportunity. When I first heard about it I honestly thought ‘that will never work!’. But I am slowly incorporating it into my daily life and hopefully soon I will start to notice a difference. Mental health is something I don’t talk about often enough but I am going to make a big effort to try.

So what can you do?

Social media is a very powerful tool. Why not share this blog post on social media (Twitter/Facebook/Instagram), have a go at writing and sharing a blog post or simply ask a friend or work colleague how they are and take the time to listen to them fully.

Mental Health Awareness Week