5th April 2022
Sanctuary Supported Living
Young people living in Sanctuary Supported services have benefited from a partnership with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.
The Get on Track for Wellbeing programme was developed in response to the pandemic which particularly impacted young people who were already experiencing barriers and challenges before any Covid-related restrictions were put in place.
The programme aimed to tackle the 16–25-year old’s feelings of isolation and anxiety, improve their wellbeing, confidence and life skills through sport and physical activity. Working with current and former athletes over a period of six months, they took part in tailored training, face-to-face mentoring and support sessions in Weston-Super-Mare, Brighton & Hove, Hartlepool, Epsom, Sudbury and Suffolk.
In addition, many young people living at other services, including residents with learning or physical disabilities, or mental health needs, took part in virtual workshops including ‘Bitesize Briefings’ on specific themes and topics such as ‘Confidence and Self Belief’ and a ‘Covid-19 and Me’ workshop.
The athletes working with Sanctuary Supported Living’s residents this year included football player Chris Elliott, beach volleyball player Chris Gregory, netball player Serena Guthrie MBE, former badminton player Suzanne Miller, and former boxer Hannah Beharry.
Young people were able to draw on the athletes’ own stories of highs and lows and experiences that are often not that different from those the young people have faced. The mentors were able to give non-judgemental support in a safe, supported setting, in small groups and one-to-one, where young people could be open and discuss their issues and concerns to build better emotional health and connections.
One young person said, “The support of my mentor and being able to talk about how I feel and be listened to was just the best.”
Athlete mentor and former boxer, Hannah Beharry supported young people at Brighton and Hove Foyer with a social action project, with the aim of encouraging others to take part in sports tournament.
Hannah said, “At the start of the programme, the young people's soft skills were limited. However, as the weeks carried on and they started to learn how to develop their own ideas, we saw a massive change in them. Each young person really stepped up, took on their own roles and really connected with the other staff and clients.”
“When they delivered their social action project itself, well it spoke volumes. From start to finish, they were full on! Never had I seen such a sense in belonging, proudness or ownership. These young people took it on with both hands giving 100%”.
The sports tournament was so popular that it led young people to run their own weekly sports club throughout the summer.
Brighton & Hove Foyer resident, Cortez, said: “Hannah has really helped me with my mental health. She’s really helped me to deal with my anger issues and my attitude towards other people. Over the course of the programme, I feel like I’ve grown up and matured a lot. I’m in a much better place now and feel a lot happier.’”
Serena Guthrie, MBE and international netball player delivered the Weston Super Mare programme. The young people there delivered a rounders tournament on the beach in support of Somerset counselling charity In Charley’s Memory.
Funding from the programme enabled the young people to buy the rounders kit and gazebo which they can use for future events beyond the end of the programme.
In Southend on Sea, elite badminton player, Suzanne Miller ran virtual sessions for a group of young parents such as Chaney who benefited from one-to-one, personalised support. She also supported a smaller group of young people helping them to build a daily routine, including healthy sleep habits and nutrition. This led to them developing a social action programme that promoted how to improve mental health and wellbeing.
Athlete mentor Suzanne said, “Working with young mums was so positive. We have never had this opportunity, and it really allowed us to mentor in a structured environment that was hugely beneficial to the young mums who otherwise couldn’t access the programme.”
Get on Track at Epsom and Reigate was supported by athlete mentors, Chris Greggory and Hannah Beharry with six young people taking part in the programme across both sites.
Their project focussed on creating a vegetable growing area at Chart Lane in Reigate which supports adults with a range of mental health needs. They worked to clear a wasted space that had become a dumping ground and use it for growing food. The young people benefited from getting outside and active, which was hugely beneficial for improving wellbeing. They came together to finish on a high and celebrated by going paddleboarding and go-karting.
"I've grown stronger and confident within myself again and I want to get back to doing things I am passionate about."
Despite the challenges of the onset of the pandemic and the restrictions which followed, the young people’s wellbeing scores had increased by 21% by the end of the Get on Track for Wellbeing programme*, as well as their ability to remain calm in the face of pressure, which is now reflected in other areas of their lives.
The programme has also encouraged young people to be more active – participating in a wide range of activities from walking and digging, to yoga and beach-based group sports.
In addition, organising their projects and getting out and about has supported the young people to build better connections with each other and their local communities through volunteering and fundraising. The hope is that the programme has helped the young people build the confidence and skills they need to plan for their futures and move on to their choice of employment, education, or training.
One young person said, “All of the programme has been amazing as I've grown stronger and confident within myself again and I want to get back to doing things I am passionate about”.
Another added; “It has been an amazing journey for me.”
*Young people’s wellbeing is measured using the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS). The data shows a significant increase in average wellbeing scores from 19.8 out of 35 at the start of the programme to 23.9 at the end, up 21%. This end score is even slightly higher than the national average of 23.6, which is particularly encouraging since the national benchmark was established pre-Covid.