WEEKLY COLUMN BY THE STAFFORDSHIRE YOUTH COMMISSION
After starting university last year, I wanted to try and build up some confidence and just go for things. I usually wouldn’t but I knew I had to sooner or later.
So, when I came across a post on Twitter calling out for volunteers, I plucked up the courage to apply for the Staffordshire Youth Commission and have never looked back.
I’d never been involved with anything like it before – after finishing college I went straight into work because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I fell into a job in pharmacy, and eventually ended up at university studying Forensic Investigation.
Since I attended my first Youth Commission meeting in May 2019, so much has happened and I’m so happy and proud that I have been involved in some of it. From helping to deliver workshops to young people to helping with other campaigns… To now taking the lead on a campaign that I’m passionate about!
And not only all of that, I myself have grown as a person: my confidence has improved massively because I’ve have pushed myself out of my comfort zone to get involved with everything.
Taking the Lead
On the 1st December, the Staffordshire Youth Commission launched “10 Days of Action” to help raise awareness of mental health and, more importantly, to focus on raising awareness of the importance of self-care. The ideas for this campaign stemmed from a Youth Commission meeting back in September when Olivia, the Project Coordinator, mentioned what we would be doing.
I knew that I wanted to be involved with the campaign because mental health is something that affects us all in day-to-day life, whether it’s in the form of having a good mental health day or a bad mental health day.
It is also quite a personal topic for me because my closest friend has struggled with their own mental health over the past few years, especially whilst being at university. Thankfully, they confided in myself and others and were able to get some help and are improving every day.
I wanted to keep our campaign positive and knew that it needed to highlight the fact that it is “okay not to be okay”. During the Youth Commission volunteers’ meeting, I mentioned that I had seen a girl called Olivia Fletcher (@crochyay) on social media, who had being crocheting flowers and leaving them in random places for 100 days. The aim? To hopefully make someone smile. After struggling with her own mental health, she hoped that her random acts of kindness would encourage others to carry it on.
I had started to learn how to crochet at the beginning of the year and wanted to do something similar, so I started to make some flowers. When World Mental Health Day came around on the 10th October 2019, I took ten of the flowers and attached labels to them. I then put them around my local area.
Later that week, I came across a post on Facebook where someone had found one of my flowers and was thanking the person who had made them – they said that they had given it to their son who was struggling with their mental health at the time. It was at this moment I knew that this work should be taken further.
During the Staffordshire Youth Commission‘s 10 Days of Action on Mental Health and Self-Care, I crocheted flowers which are being left in places all over the county with a positive message attached. We hope that people will pick one up and remember that they are not alone.
We have also been sharing tips on how to practice self-care, trying to show that it doesn’t take long and how by doing just a little bit here and there can go a long way.
Hopefully this campaign can expand even further in 2020 as the Staffordshire Youth Commission takes our mental health priority forward for its fourth project year.
Lauren Myatt – Staffordshire Youth Commission Leader