Peter

Life is full of possibilities, but it doesn’t always turn out as we plan, and it is not always fair; it can be confusing and scary, particularly for the young. Not everyone is lucky enough to have the support and affirmation they need when making the decisions that will enable them to live their best lives. As a Young Minds Matter mentor, I see my role as working alongside schools to offer this support.

My experience of working with children is based mainly on being a father and stepfather of five adult children: I lost my first wife to cancer in 2004, and had to deal with my own grief at the same time as helping our three children under eleven (10, 8, & 4) come to terms with their loss.

My second marriage to a divorcee with two children, in 2009 has given me a perspective on this all-too-common childhood trauma and made me sensitive to the challenges of growing up with separated parents.

My professional life has been spent helping teams and individuals identify their goals and devise strategies to achieve them. I have worked at every level in business but particularly enjoyed working with those in their first jobs.

I am a trained coach and qualified to use a number of personality profiling tools for adults.  My coaching business is built on non-judgemental listening, reflecting back what I’ve heard to help people gain perspective, identify options, develop resources and take action. I also offer practical help with planning, personal organisation and communications.

Andy

My interest in assisting young people to build on their personal and social development started when my son was diagnosed at a young age with a life changing chronic disease. From assisting on school trips as my son’s carer I came to realise that his friends and classmates saw me not as a teacher or a parent but someone in between who they could easily talk to and open up to. 

I decided to study for a Level 2 Award in Youth Practice. Sadly as there are no Youth Clubs in the village of Studley where I live, I volunteered at Henley Youth club where I taught basic cooking skills and also Salford Priors Youth Club where I could interact with young people and help them increase their confidence and personal skills.

Whilst working full time as a Head Chef I gained my qualifications and enrolled onto many more courses which are relevant when working alongside young people. Recently I had an introduction to Fearless.org which can empower and educate young people and also County lines which is a growing concern within the Midlands and surrounding towns and villages .

On a personal note, having had anxiety myself and learning how to live with it, I feel I can fully relate to and understand the conflicting emotions that a young person may have to deal with at some point in their development. Being the single father to a (nearly) teenage boy, mixed with my own life experiences and challenges, I am more than happy to be helping others find the best path for themselves to follow and to help them have a better understanding of the world around them as well as giving them guidance when needed.

Melanie

I qualified as a teacher in 2010 and have spent my working life in a range of school settings in a variety of different roles.

I am passionate about the role education plays in shaping young people’s lives but also extremely aware of the importance of the holistic development of young people.

In my experience, young people thrive in an environment where they feel safe and building positive relationships with the people around them contributes to creating that feeling of safety. I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of having the freedom to talk and be listened to in a non judgemental environment and as a mentor that is what I aim to provide.

Living in an ever changing world, not to mention the effects of a global pandemic, leads me to believe that now more than ever we all need support with our mental health and creating a safe space for our young people to air their anxieties is a great place to start.

I feel privileged to be part of a team that is working towards breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health issues and empowering young people to achieve their true potential in all areas of their life.

Leyla

From a young age, I have always taken an interest in the impact of compromised mental health on children and young adults. My journey started with my personal exploration of the issues I faced as a young adult and I have continued to try and understand myself, finding solutions to improve my life and daily experiences.

I grew up in Turkey but have experienced life not only there but in France, studying at Lille University, finally settling in the U.K. where I now live on the edge of the Cotswolds. 

This variety of cultural and situational experiences will, I hope, contribute to a well-rounded approach to mentoring. 

I am now a mother of one and step-mother to three children which has made me even more aware of how important the provision of help is for children and young adults.

I feel extremely passionate about mental well-being and believe that if the relevant help is provided and if children and young adults are truly heard when they need the support, they can then enter into their adult lives with the relevant tools and techniques to understand themselves more effectively.

Sarah

I have been incredibly lucky to have been a stay-at-home mum for the past 15 or so years, working at my children’s school for some of the time.  Whilst working in a primary school environment, it became very apparent that children who lacked concentration in class focused so much better once they’d had a chat about whatever was distracting them.  I really enjoyed small group intervention and seeing individuals flourish after some one-to-one time.

I am also a big believer that music is so therapeutic for all ages, so when it was my turn to supervise indoor packed lunch, the room became full of karaoke singers with backing dancers! It was from here that I decided to start an after-school youth choir, which was a great success – until the world came to a standstill in 2019.

Supporting my three children (two of which are teenagers) through home-learning was a real eye-opener.  Watching their worlds gradually changing and their everyday lives becoming virtual brought a whole mix of emotions and challenges to our household.

I have always been drawn to everything around promoting mental health since completing a degree in Psychology. So when I met Sue and Eliza for the first time, with their abundance of enthusiasm and energy – I knew I had to get involved! Even more so as YMM shares my passion for music! I cannot wait to be involved in the charity concerts.

I love life and I am lucky to have the opportunity to help young people to love theirs too.

Alice

I’ve always been interested in people, travel and food and following a four year degree at Edinburgh University studying French and Italian I found myself living in Paris working for an Arts and Culture PR company before returning to London to work for Slow Food UK, a global grassroots charity, where I ran the events department and focussed on food education in schools and universities. 

I then moved to Singapore for 3 years with my husband where I worked in Food PR and was lucky enough to travel and explore south east Asia before returning to London with our eldest daughter in tow, swiftly followed by our final move out to beautiful South Warwickshire! 

It’s here that we’ve finally put down roots and added to our family with another two children, a couple of unruly dogs, a small herd of rare breed sheep and some bees. Having grown up on a small hill farm in south west Scotland this is definitely where I feel most at home amongst green fields and nature. 

Having primarily focussed on raising my children these last few years I’ve also become increasingly aware of the social and life pressures that the young of today face and the increasing need for extra support systems in schools, not to mention the importance of talking and communicating. I’m thrilled to be part of the Young Minds Matter team.

Kate

You never know what life has in store for you next and sometimes it can be a challenge. Having lost a very dear friend to suicide and through having a close family member with bipolar, I saw the devastating effect mental health can have on those around us. I decided to retire from teaching and focus on making the most of friends family and life. It was during this time I joined YMM to see how I could try and help alleviate some of the pressures young people have regarding their mental health and break down the stigma that can surround it.
 
I have been a teacher for over 25 years in various different schools and specialise in Early Years education . During this time I have seen at first hand how mental health issues have increased in young people even those of a very early age and the importance of having a safe, secure and happy environment to support you through life.
 
I have a husband and 3 young adult children, a son and twin girls. As a mother I have also seen at first hand some of the daily struggles young people face. I am very lucky to spend my time walking my two working cocker spaniels, doing yoga, pilates, and making the most of my family and friends.
 
I am also an early years advisor for several schools and train and mentor student teachers.
With more social media, academic, and lockdown pressures, I look forward to helping young people the best way that I can, in a challenging and ever changing world.
 
As a mentor I am looking forward to listening and finding ways to support young people through the struggles they face. I am excited to join the wonderful team at YMM.

Sarah

‘It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish”. This is a line from a musical and, for me, is so true. I didn’t enjoy school; I was bullied and didn’t do very well. I left with only two O levels. I started work straight away as a waitress in a restaurant and after three years I left as a Deputy Manager. That has been a theme in my life; start a job and work my way up. 28 years ago I stopped work to start a family; I now have two sons (27 and 20). It wasn’t easy as I suffered from Post Natal Depression and Clinical Depression but with the support of my family and doctors I made a full recovery. 

I’m divorced and now live with my partner of 16 years. He has two grown up daughters (27 and 24) and recently we’ve added to our family and now have a black Labrador who keeps us on our toes. 

In 2020, at the age of 55, I embarked on my biggest challenge yet, and that was to start a second degree; my first was an art degree, which I gained 11 years earlier. The degree I’m doing now is in Person Centred Counselling at Warwick Uni. Not bad for someone who left school with two O levels!

It wasn’t easy bringing two families together and I am a lot more aware now, and have an appreciation, of how traumatic it can be having parents that are separated. 

Cutting down the stigma around mental health is also something I feel is important to do in our society today, and one of the ways we can do this is by talking about how we are feeling, but more importantly, is to listen, empathically, to what is being said. 

I am really excited to be mentoring with Young Minds Matter and to be given the opportunity to support children and young people, to help them achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. Wherever you start from, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you’ll finish!

Mark

We are all storytelling creatures.

Having the space and opportunity to tell our stories is an essential part of understanding who we are and our place in the world. Articulating our thoughts, feelings, ideas and ideals to the other not only satisfies the human need for self-affirmation, but also reminds us that we are not alone. By sharing our stories we learn that however strange and scary our individual experiences might seem, the hopes and fears associated with these experiences are a common ground in which we all grow.     

For the past twelve years I have been working as a carer for the NHS, initially in major surgery and orthopaedics, then in 2020 I moved over to mental health because it is this service that I am most passionate about. Whilst working for the NHS I have also taken on other link nurse roles such as dementia champion and LGBTQ+ ally. I believe that every person should have an equal platform from which to be heard.

One of the most satisfying things about working within the NHS is the privilege to serve members of the community and to have the opportunity to hear their stories. The human condition: the how’s and why’s of another’s life have always been an endless source of fascination and education for me, so much so that in 2011, with a full time job and three children, I decided to begin an undergraduate degree in Humanities with the Open University.

In 2019 I graduated with a Masters in Philosophy (though I have yet to discover the answer to life, the universe and everything!) The skills and knowledge gained through this period of study have provided me with a rich and fertile soil from which to grow my understanding of the world and experiences in which we all share.

I began coaching young children and teenagers when I was a teenager myself. As a senior grade within my martial arts association a part of our training was to share our skills and knowledge through coaching the junior grades. After the successful completion of my black belt I went on to run my own martial arts class and also taught self defence within the local schools. From there I went on to spend six months working as a camp counsellor in Santa Cruz, California teaching archery and karate, going onto travelling around America’s west coast. 

On returning back to England I then served in the Army for six years, where I was to become a combat medical technician and physical training instructor. I would continue my coaching roles throughout my army career often finding myself involved running youth activities for the forces family days.

As my old karate instructor would say “you do not understand a thing yourself, until you can successfully explain it to another”. This is a maxim that I have held onto throughout my life and one that, I believe, is at the heart of talking therapies. Having the opportunity to freely express our thoughts, feelings and aspirations to another is a wonderful way of getting to know ourselves better. The opportunity to share with another is humanity’s most precious commodity. It is on an unwavering belief in these principles that I wished to become involved with the Young Minds Matter mentoring programme.

Sue

Born and brought up in the Black Country I have a healthy sense of humour and feel fortunate to have been raised in a community that cared about its people. Sadly though, my mother suffered from debilitating bouts of depression throughout my childhood. When she wasn’t depressed, she was vibrant and active, this was my first experience of mental health related suffering.

I have led a busy life, riding horses, often in competition and working in the racing industry. I brought up two sons on my own who also followed me into riding and competing, reintroducing me to Pony Club where I became involved in helping the children learn to ride and manage their ponies. I have been involved in the retraining of racehorses and have always trained dogs too.

I brought up my two sons on my own a single parent, having to deal with everything that their teenage lives threw at us. I got to know their friends and even at times providing a temporary home for the odd friend or girlfriend.

After the boys moved out of home, I started my own domestic cleaning company running it successfully for eight years and employing ten members of staff. I’m very fortunate to be a mature student studying for a Counselling degree at Warwick University. After completing the first year of my degree and volunteering as a peer supporter at a Redditch charity I realised I wanted to work in a caring role; I closed the business in June 2021.

After a lifetime of helping others, I have decided to follow my instinct and help people professionally. I have always enjoyed helping others to help themselves, giving people the confidence to make the right decisions. I passionately believe that building confidence is so important especially for young people. I am so pleased to be able to contribute something to the service offered by YMM and am excited to help this young charity blossom.

Sarah

Originally from Wales, I studied for my Bachelor of Nursing (Adult) at Swansea University which was a very exciting 3 years of my life. Once qualified I moved to Birmingham and began working as a Nurse. I worked as a Surgical Nurse, pre-assessment Nurse, and then I specialised in Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Nursing. I had a real passion to pursue Chemotherapy Nursing and that prompted my move to Warwickshire, where I have now lived for 10 years.

 

After many years of nursing, I decided to train as a Secondary School Mathematics Teacher, achieving my PGCE in 2014. Once qualified, I started teaching in Henley in Arden, until an accident caused my NQT year to be cut short.

 

After spending a couple of years recovering my health both physically and mentally after my accident, I decided that becoming a mum was my absolute goal in life and I am blessed with two beautiful children who are 2 and 4.

 

I have been working in Health and Safety in the Automotive Industry for 5 years now, whilst bringing my children up and of course negotiating a pandemic.

 

Caring for and supporting people has always been my number one career achievement and I began to feel like something was missing after not nursing and teaching for so long. I feel so honoured to be part of Young Minds Matter and that I get a chance to use my experiences, both professionally and personally, to support young people and to become the best mentor that I can be. 

Nick 

I have run my own business for the last 16 years, which has led me to meet people from all walks of life, and taught me to be patient and find resolutions when faced with problems.

 

Previously I volunteered as a business adviser for Young Enterprise, guiding a group of students to start and run their own small business.

 

I have a 16 year old niece, and so an understanding of social and academic pressures facing young people at the moment.

 

I think the effect of isolation on mental health has actually lessened stigmas: the whole world going through something together normalised checking up on people. Everyone deals with things in different ways, and everyone should have someone they feel comfortable talking to about their feelings.

 

I believe everyone should have an opportunity to be listened to, understood, and accepted, whatever they are going through. I hope to provide this as a mentor, and think I will gain great satisfaction from being a part of people’s journeys.