Experts praise health work

Mental health professionals and experts have given their approval and praise to a mental health project being run by young people in Blackpool.

Volunteers at Blackpool Boys and Girls Club have been running informal counselling workshops with their peers in a bid to raise self-esteem and aspiration in young people in one of Blackpool’s most deprived areas.

Spurred on by their own experiences of poor mental health Danni Hickinbotham, 20, and Jasmine Gwilliam, 17, encourage their peers at the Laycock Gate centre to think about their mental health, aspirations and how their actions affect others.

Now their work, through worksheets, talking therapy and writing workshops, has been praised by Angela Winter and Lin Jones from the Fairness Commission and PCT Mental Health Manager Ashok Khandelwal.

The trio visited them at the Boys and Girls Club.

Danni, who hopes to secure work as a youth worker, said: “It makes me feel good that I can help other people.”

Mr Khandelwal said: “I was pleased to witness the mental health project organised by these youngsters in a most deprived area of Blackpool, they are an inspirational group of people who despite their own share of problems are providing help, support and leadership opportunities.

“The kind of informal counselling they are giving each other, I find that 
extraordinary.”

Jasmine said: “We talk to them about what they want to be when they grow up and what barriers might stop them, what makes them feel happy or sad and what love is.

“We’re advising [our peers] without them realising.”