The Year that was...
2020 - Getting Through this Together
It is impossible to look back on 2020 without considering the devastation caused by the COVID-19 virus which is an ongoing tragedy for alarming numbers of people. The full impact of the pandemic, particularly on mental health, is unlikely to be revealed or fully understood for many years. Loneliness and isolation can have profound effects on mental health so the BIM team decided at the start of the first UK lockdown that we could find a useful way to help combat these. This kickstarted our Getting Through This Together campaign where we shared films made by young people with their tips for keeping mentally and physically active during lockdown.
During the campaign, we shared 42 films which had been filmed at home by the 55 young people involved. The films were viewed over 30,000 times on Facebook and covered a diverse range of useful topics including food, music, gardening, exercise, and daily doses of fun. The films were used by schools and health organisations as examples of what might help and provided a platform for young people to have their voices heard during an extremely difficult time. For many of the participants, it was their first time in front of a camera and talking publicly; seeing the positive reactions to their ideas gave them more confidence to speak out and share their thoughts. The full collection can be found here.
Making Films... Despite Covid
The Getting Through This Together project meant that 2020 was undoubtedly our most prolific year yet in terms of the number of films we shared but we also found new ways to work with schools to continue our other film projects. The closure of schools during the lockdown and the ongoing need for social distancing meant that some of our projects have been postponed but, thanks to the ingenuity of our filmmakers, we developed new approaches which allowed us to work with 8 of our lead schools, over 50 children and young people and many parents and teachers to create a range of excellent films that have covered topics including The Importance of Friendship, What Helps When You’re Stressed, The Importance of Community, and What Parents and Families can do to help when you’re struggling.
Some of the highlights have included our Whole School Approach film with Beechen Cliff School in Bath which documents how a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing can have a profoundly positive impact on the health and happiness of both staff and students. This gained both local and national media attention, as did our Black Lives Matter film in which young people from BANES discussed their experiences of racism and what they feel needs to happen in the future. Most recently, we released Finding Help, in which students at St Laurence School in Bradford-on-Avon discussed the importance and benefits of asking for help. We hope that these films will inspire other young people to speak up when they are feeling low and encourage everyone that help is available when you need it. A huge thanks to everyone involved in all our projects.
Recognising Team Work
We were absolutely delighted that the hard work of our team was recognised when we were awarded the Charity of the Year Award in BANES Community Awards. Our work was described as “innovative and creative” which is a testament to the incredible effort made by the whole team in a really difficult year. The judging panel were particularly impressed by the way young people are involved in all aspects of our organisation.
Our film, Being Black, gained international recognition when it was nominated at the LGBT Los Angeles Film Festival. In the film, Wayne Mertins-Brown spoke movingly to our lead filmmaker, Andrew Hassenruck, about the challenges of growing up as a gay black man in a predominantly straight white world. Wayne also took part in our Q&A series which meets strong role models. Click here to read Wayne’s full interview.
In Memory of Lewis
In April, a 17-year-old from Belfast called Lewis McCracken tragically took his own life. His family knew of our work and started a fundraising page in his memory which has raised over £10,000 during the last year. His death during lockdown provided a desperately sad reminder of the need to continue fighting stigma around mental health and encourage young people to talk about their emotions in a safe and healthy manner.
Some of the incredible amount raised in Lewis’s memory funded our Whole School Approach film and a powerful film called A Message to Young Men, with words written by our Youth Advisor Henry in response to Lewis’s death. We have started a project group to work with schools in Northern Ireland to help them implement the whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
This Month's Role Model - Spencer Cartwright.
In need of some exercise motivation after festive feasting? This month’s Role Models Q&A met Spencer Cartwright, a personal trainer and self-improvement coach. He told us about the importance of understanding mental health when devising fitness plans for people, the power of helping people make connections between their lifestyles and attitudes to fitness, why it’s important to have people you can open up to, and why a kitchen chair might be the best fitness aid available. You can read his motivating story here.
Our Fundraising Continues
The year kicked off with our very own fundraising quiz night which saw 20 teams compete in a variety of fun rounds which raised over £700, which included the overall winners donating their prize fund back to us! The idea of attending such a busy event seems a distant memory now. Just before the first lockdown, a team of amazing runners completed the Bath Half marathon – some at the event, others by themselves to avoid the crowds – and raised a whopping £4356. During the lockdown, an intrepid swimmer called Clarrie completed a miraculous journey by swimming the equivalent of the English Channel in her back garden and raised £601 for us. We are incredibly grateful for all fundraising and donations that we receive. If you’d like to donate or fundraise for us, you can do so via our JustGiving page.
Podcast: Video Games v Mental Health
Our Youth Advisor Levi and Primary Champion Finn have recorded a short podcast in which they discuss how video games can boost mental health and wellbeing. Video games are often portrayed as violent and antisocial but for Finn and Levi the opposite is true. They both love playing games which allow them to spend time socialising with friends and being creative. They discuss how games like Minecraft and Among Us can help us to stay connected with friends during the difficulties of lockdown life while boosting our wellbeing and keeping our brains active. You can listen to the podcast by clicking the play button below.
Keep an eye on our social media for updates about future editions!
Reaching out in 2020
Despite spending most of the year in some form of lockdown, our Youth Advisors and team members have we were very busy spreading the word about our work. They spoke at suicide prevention events and the 25th Children and Young People’s Mental Health in the South West conference. They took part in numerous webinars for Bath and North East Somerset council, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse, the Wiser Academy, and of course, our very own Whole School Approach webinar. Members of the team have wrote blogs for the UK Association of Solution Focused Practitioners, the Solution Focused Collective and the Times Educational Supplement. Our work also reached a variety of other media platforms with Youth Advisors appearing on BBC Points West, BBC Bristol, the Talking Teenagers podcast and took over the Wiser Academy Instagram page. All in all, a loud year with 2021 expected to be even louder!
Welcome to the Team!
We expanded our team in 2020 with some great new additions as we welcomed two new Primary Champions, Finn and Jackson, two new Youth Advisors, Enya and Lucia, and a new consultant team member, Sarah Ashworth from the Charlie Waller Trust. They’ve already made brilliant contributions to our work and we look forward to continuing in the new year!