“You’re never alone” – Young People on NCS raise awareness of mental health in Rotherham

A group of 13 young people on NCS with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust set out to raise awareness on suicide prevention, and to spread positivity within the community during their NCS summer social action project.

The group of young people came together over the summer as part of their NCS programme. As part of NCS, the group were involved within a social action project, which sets out on making positive differences within local communities. The group were highly passionate about spreading awareness of mental health, as they recognised the effects that the  Covid-19 pandemic has had young people such as themselves.

Mental health has been a prevalent topic during the pandemic, where particularly young people have suffered from the tight restrictions, thus leading to a deterioration in their mental health. Recognising this, the group decided to raise awareness for the charity Papyrus, which is a notable organisation for their work on suicide prevention in younger people.

The team created a joint Instagram account, to spread awareness and to post updates of the work done by Papyrus, containing vital information such as contact numbers and points of reference for young people suffering with their mental health.

The group replicated the work done in the virtual world to the physical world, using their innovation in creating ‘positivity rocks’, which encouraged positive phrases. The rocks were left across the Rotherham community which members of the public could access, along with decorations, and the Papyrus UK ‘Hopeline’ contact number, which were located on trees within local parks.

The key messages the group wanted ot portray to other young people struggling with their mental health, was that, “You’re never alone” and “You will smile again.” The group highlighted to the struggling individuals, that there are people who want to hear your voice, and that there is support should you need it.

One member of the group discussed the reasoning behind the mental health awareness initiatives:

Raising awareness about the impact of struggling with your mental health is so important. In fact, it’s been gaining more and more importance over the recent years due to the rise in social media, but especially with the pandemic happening, young people need support more than ever.”

“Raising awarness of mental health lets people from all backgrounds and all ages know that it’s okay to open up to others, and to admit that you’re struggling. To admit that you’re suffering is never a weakness, you’re so strong if you can do it.”

The group encountered difficulties during the pandemic, as they were forced to isolate during their project. However, despite this and tight Covid restrictions, the group were fiercely determined to continue on their path to spreading awareness, as they raised money for the charity through hosting a virtual charity quiz night.

Additionally, the group organised a sponsored walk which was set out to  encourage young people to live a healthy lifestyle, and illustrated the importance of being outdoors for their mental health.

The social action project not only benefited young people within the community, but also the development of the young team members themselves:

“NCS has made me a more confident person and has helped me to talk to new people. The social action project has helped me to see how easy it is to make a huge difference in the community, I will definitely do more charity work.”

“I’ve made so many friends for life that I would never have even met if I hadn’t signed up for NCS. I’ve enjoyed it so much and made so many memories, I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

Team leader Hannah Blamire talked about her experiences of working with the group:

“Myself and my team assistant were over the moon with their positive attitudes and their ‘give it a go’ mentalities when it came to any task. They kept up these positive attitudes throughout the entirety of the programme, even when we all received the news of having to isolate.”

“The team decided to focus on raising awareness rather than money due to our housebound circumstances and their idea of the positivity rocks which they decorated and left around their areas was one of the most creative methods of raising awareness that I’d ever seen.”

“I absolutely loved it and I can’t praise them enough. What a fabulous group of young people, they made the whole of the RUCST proud.”

To find out more about NCS, please click here.