Jack Brereton, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South, tried out his boxing skills recently whilst visiting a new mental health pilot programme in the city.
Together Active have developed a pilot project to support mental health in young people using physical activity. Working with the schools' mental health teams, two cohorts of students from St Thomas More Catholic Academy and St Peters Academy have volunteered to take part. The two academies have co-produced a 10-week programme of physical activity with two cohorts of young people in Stoke-on-Trent who are struggling with their mental health.
The programme is being funded in its entirety due to support from Sport England. What makes this programme unique is that it is targeted on preventative action to support young people whose mental health issues aren’t severe enough for a CAMHS or diversionary intervention but could escalate if left unsupported. This may include low levels of self-esteem, self-confidence, and mild to moderate anxiety and depression.
This week Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Jack Brereton, went to visit those running the programme and some of the young people taking part. Jack was even given the opportunity to learn some first-hand boxing skills.
Speaking after his visit, Jack Brereton MP said:
“Supporting young people at such an important stage in their life is vital. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this gives us all a chance not only to reflect on our own mental health but the mental health of those around us. Sport can be a fantastic outlet for people to improve their mental health.
It was a privilege to meet with Together Active at St Thomas More to see the new programme at work for myself. It is amazing to see such a wonderful programme for young people being piloted in Stoke-on-Trent. During my visit, I spoke with staff and even had a go at boxing myself, and from the feedback I got there is no doubt that this is a massive success! Thank you to all of those who have helped put this amazing programme together.”
Lottie Smith, Health, Campaigns and Digital Manager and Mental Health Lead at Together Active, said:
“We’re delighted that Jack has taken the time to visit our programme, and that he's got such an interest in mental health in Stoke-on-Trent.
"We're all very aware of the pressures on mental health services at the moment. Over the past couple of years, the mental health of young people has been greatly impacted because of the pandemic and wider social issues. We know the benefits of being physically active on mental health, but we also know, thanks to the most recent Active Lives survey, that young people are being less physically active. By co-designing this project with the students, we have been able to create a programme of activity tailored to their needs, providing the opportunities to be active best suited for them.
“We’re hoping to prove the case for physical activity as a preventative tool, creating more options for young people that are struggling before they reach crisis point. By gathering compelling data, we will be able to advocate for more schemes like this across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to help more young people manage their mental health in healthy and effective ways.”