HRH THE Duke of Cambridge met with young residents to hear about innovative new Mental Skills Training scheme
15 DEC 2014

We were very honoured that HRH The Duke of Cambridge paid a return visit to St Basils on Friday 12th December 2014 to hear from young residents as to how their engagement in our ‘BOOST’ programme delivered in partnership with the University of Birmingham has helped build their confidence and skills.

St Basils has extensive Learning, Skills and Work (LSW) programmes aimed at helping young residents move on successfully. The BOOST programme is an innovative new LSW programme which provides intensive, tailored ‘wrap-around’ support to help young people develop the skills and mental resilience needed to identify and pursue opportunities, secure jobs and achieve their career ambitions.

During his visit The Duke met privately with young people who have taken part in the BOOST programme and an element of that programme called the Mental Skills Training (MST) scheme which is delivered by the School of Sport, Exercises and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham. The Mental Skills Training scheme mixes workshop learning with opportunities for the young people to practice their new skills including a number of activities designed to show young people how to utilise the positive mindsets commonly used in sport to help them build mental stamina and resilience and to make them mindful of how they can apply this to other situations to overcome perceived barriers and achieve positive results.

Ricardo, 24 who was one of the young people who met with The Duke privately as part of the visit to tell the Duke more about taking part in the Mental Skills Training and sports activities that took place in Coniston in the Lake District.

He said:

 “I found the Mental Skills Training residential trip to Coniston enjoyable, amazing, exciting, exhausting – all those things! It gave me confidence to go out and look for jobs, communicate, and understand how to approach people, how to build a CV and what words to use. We did lots of sport activities too such as swimming, kayaking, high ropes, hiking. It’s made me believe in myself and know that I can do anything I want to do if I just put my mind to it!

I found the visit today exciting! I think The Duke of Cambridge is outgoing and not someone you’d think was Royal because of the way he was talking with everyone. He was just asking everyone what football team’s they support. He makes you feel very relaxed." 

As part of the visit HRH The Duke also enjoyed a cup of tea (for future reference he takes it with milk and one sugar!) whilst watching a video of the MST residential trip with young people to Coniston which gave young people the chance to practice the mental training skills they had learnt whilst trying out some challenging sporting activities.   

This time around The Duke's visit was to our Aston based supported accommodation scheme ‘John Austin Court’ which is one of two projects that took part in the pilot of St Basils innovative new BOOST and MST schemes. Young people living at John Austin Court also showed The Duke of Cambridge around the accommodation scheme which has 41 units for young people aged 16-25 and young families as well as a large training and IT room. St Basils is particularly proud of this accommodation scheme, which formally opened on 4th July 2012, and which makes use of former sheltered accommodation providing ideal accommodation and support for young people working towards independent living. 

This visit is a follow-up to The Duke of Cambridge’s visit last year on 29th November 2013 to a St Basils scheme in Small Heath, 'Carole Gething House', where he praised Birmingham for being the first city to sign up collectively to the aims of the national End Youth Homelessness Alliance. The aim of the visit was partly to hear about the progress on how the city is assisting us after pledging to help 'End Youth Homelessness' last year. Therefore HRH The Duke also took the time to chat with some of our health partners in the city to hear how through partnership work we are improving the health, wellbeing and employment prospects of Birmingham's homeless young people. 

Among the line up of guests were Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Professor Myra Nimmo from the University of Birmingham and Toby Lewis, Chief Executive from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, the key partner in a new ‘Live and Work’ scheme which provides accommodation and apprenticeships for local young people who have experienced homelessness.

Following successful pilots of BOOST and Mental Skills Training at John Austin Court and Highgate based ‘Conybere Gardens’, these programmes are now being rolled out across St Basils 25 other supported accommodation schemes in Birmingham, Solihull and North Worcestershire.

Following the visit, St Basils Chief Executive Jean Templeton said: “We were delighted to host another visit from HRH The Duke of Cambridge and update him on the progress made from last year’s visit regarding Birmingham’s pledge to End Youth Homelessness. We said last year that it takes a whole city to look after its young people and we needed our communities backing to bring this aim about. We have been very encouraged by the response so far. It does take investment but through that we can help young people achieve and they can then inspire the next group of young people. We are very grateful to Prince William for taking the time to visit us and help recognise the achievements of the first cohort on the MST programme. We know this will also help them to continue aiming high.”

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Photos by Jas Sansi