Livewire - February 1, 2012

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By Julie Demick, Butterfly Project chief

The Butterfly Project exists to help reduce or halt self-harming behaviour for young people aged 11-18.

We have just won funding for the next three years from the Department of Health’s social care volunteering and health volunteering fund to introduce new ways of working and enhance our work through volunteers – along with yearly funding from North Lancashire PCT.

Self-harming has been highlighted by Aaron’s storyline on TV’s Emmerdale. The UK has the highest incidents of reported self-harm within Europe, and numbers are probably higher than statistics suggest because by its nature, self-harming can be hidden.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists reckon that about three in 100 people who self-harm over 15 years will actually kill themselves – 50 times the rate for those who don’t self-harm. The risk increases with age and is greater for males.

This highlights the need for early intervention services such as ours.

Seven years ago, NCompass North West became aware of an increase in self-harming among teenagers in the area and the Butterfly Project started to support females followed three years later by the Phoenix project to support young men.  

Both offer one-to-one counselling sessions to explore and address underlying reasons for self-harming specific to that young person, along with issues-based workshops such as anger, confidence, stress, relationships, trust, self image or other feelings, and peer support drop-ins, an informal group where young people meet in a safe, friendly welcoming environment to make friends and ultimately reduce feelings of isolation.

The feedback received includes: * It has helped me understand myself more and raise my self-esteem.

* Although I’ve had a really bad week, I have managed my emotions better and you’ve helped me understand my feelings.

* If I was in charge of the project, I would stay as you are, because you are amazing.

* I couldn’t have done it without you.

We are extremely pleased to receive this funding, as it will help us sustain and develop our project within the local area and, more importantly, help us recruit local volunteers, who are key to ensuring we respond quickly to the needs of those who are self-harming and ultimately support them to cease this behaviour, to build confidence and have a healthy and happy future.

* For more visit our website www.ncompassnorthwest.co.uk.