Lake District trip helps young people develop mental awareness and resilience
05 NOV 2014

A group of young residents from three Birmingham schemes got the opportunity to travel to the Lake District to take part in a number of activities designed to improve self-confidence, self-esteem and mental resilience.

The trip was led by Dr Mark Holland and Sam Cooley, members of the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham, who have been running mental skills training workshops at a number of schemes.

In recent years St Basils has seen an increase in younger and therefore more vulnerable young people presenting as homeless. These young people often have multiple barriers to overcome. For three years St Basils has been a Psychologically Informed Environment; all staff are trained in Psychological skills to give young people the emotional support they need but feedback from young people suggests they want to receive the training too so they can develop these skills for themselves.

Simultaneously St Basils has been conducting a pilot led by staff from our Learning, Skills and Work team,  offering NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) young people intensive wrap-around support, and it these young people that the activities were tailored for to fulfil the joint aims of improving confidence and mental resilience.

As LSW Support Worker Ian Bennett explains; “Some of the NEET young people we work with have failed in school and so trying to get them back into education, training and ultimately work can prove difficult because they have their own barriers – they’re convinced they can’t do it! This trip was aimed at proving they can achieve and building their confidence. It’s about showing them what skills they do have and how to use them. It’s to make them aware of different mindsets and how positive thinking really can get results, and once they’ve got that mindset it’s to teach them to be mindful of how they’re using it and to tap into it in other situations.”

The young people spent three nights in Coniston. The trip taught both life skills such as living independently, cooking and cleaning as well as skills that would be useful in employment such as team work. Young people had to work together to help each other across a zip wire, tower building out of crates, and they had to build a raft that would float on the lake. They needed to work together for these tasks otherwise it wouldn’t work. They also climbed the ‘Old Man of Coniston’ mountain as a group, encouraging each other along the way.

Reflecting after the trip, Support Worker Ian said: “I have seen a definite change in attitude of those young people who took part from Conybere Gardens. They are much more outgoing. They are making use of the Conybere common room to socialise with each other rather than remaining in their rooms and they are instigating their own searches for work opportunities.”

A young man who took part said: “It was so much fun and I’ve done things I never dreamt I could do!” 

Support Worker Ian added: “This young man use to suffer from low self- confidence but recently it has dramatically increased. He can see now what talents he has. He started a placement with Landau Skills Show and after just one day on placement they are so impressed they offered him an apprenticeship! This young man is going from strength to strength!” 

One young woman who took part, Corinne, said: "It was really fun, I climbed a mountain not just physically but mentally! I was sure I couldn't do it and I told them so, but I did it! My favourite activity was the raft in the water, because I'm actually scared of water and it fell apart the first time but I'm glad I did it and I'd do it again!"