Young people in West Sussex have achieved national recognition as part of Positive for Youth Awards.
The Free Your Mind Campaign, supported by West Sussex Young People’s Service, has been awarded the Community Impact Award for the most sustainable project. Positive for Youth is an initiative created to empower and unlock potential in our future leaders across the UK. The awards are developed with a focus on recognising outstanding contribution to community, media, arts and performance, encouraging collaboration and sharing of best practice with the industries.
Free Your Mind, a social action project run by young people for young people, aims to challenge stigma, taboo and stereotypes and improve mental health services for their peers.
Founded by West Sussex Youth MP, Kai Moore in 2013, the campaign has grown to include young people from a range of groups throughout West Sussex, including service users. With support of West Sussex Young People’s Service, project sustainability is built into the Youth Cabinet structure, encouraging a wider range of young people to add their views and experiences to the campaign.
A key achievement is improved access to mental health information via West Sussex Your Space website. Young people planned and delivered a countywide conference for service users, influencing the redesign of Children’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services as a result. Most recently, young people from the campaign were part of an interview procurement panel for counselling and advocacy services.
The young people will showcase their work and collect their award at ceremony on 23 October, at the prestigious Bush Hall, Shepherds Bush, in London.
Quotes from young people:
‘It was really good to be a part of the interview panel, as it allows young people’s voice to be heard, and we affect the final decision.’ Dominic Marks, 15 from Horsham.
“We received a national Community Impact Award. When we collected the trophy, I spoke about how Free Your Mind has helped me with my depression and anxiety. This was a first for me, and I managed the challenge of going stage and speaking in public without having a panic attack. I was petrified but overcame my fear. It feels good having done it. I’ve been part of this from the beginning, all the way to hosting a convention, and now winning an award. It’s helped me so much as a person, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities!” Abigail Reeves, 17, Horsham
“We took part in such an amazing night. So many young people have inspired me and made me realise how much young people can do.” Gulshan Akhtar, 16,Crawley
Free Your Mind were presented their trophy for Community Impact for most sustainable project at the national Positive for Youth Awards by Sacha Corcoran MBE, Principal of Big Creative Academy.
In addition to the trophy, Free Your Mind are invited to spend a day at Big Creative Academy in London, making a promotional film using the organisation’s cutting edge film and recording facilities.
Big Creative Academy aims to improve the lives of young people through high quality training and creative industry experiences.”