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Elliot

Elliot

Joined: 2018

Why did you join as a Young Champion at AFNCCF?

I wanted to get involved in projects where I could make a difference. Mental health is something seldom discussed in my demographic and I want to change that. AFNCCF provides a platform for young people to express their views and help shape the way awareness and support is delivered.

What are you most looking forward to doing as a Champion?

I’m looking forward to learning new skills while getting involved in research, awareness campaigns and service development.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as a Champion?

My hope is to make a difference by sharing my ideas and raising awareness about mental health to those who may not have much knowledge about mental health issues and the support available.

What are your future ambitions? 

I intend to study psychology at university and potentially go into a career in clinical neuropsychology. Whatever I end up doing my aim is to bring joy into every room I enter and to show love to every person I meet. So, nothing much really!

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I’m left handed.

Madi

Madi

Joined: 2017

Why did you join as a Young Champion at AFNCCF?

After struggling with mental illness for most of my life, I was discharged from hospital in 2016 and decided that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to take something negative in my life and turn it into a positive. My therapist made me aware of the Anna Freud Centre and that they were looking for young people, it seemed like the perfect fit.

What has been the best activity you have participated in so far?

The best activity I have participated in, to date, has been the ‘Can Anyone Hear Me’ summit, which took place in July 2018. At the summit, I was lucky enough to voice a 10-minute speech on my own experience with mental illness. Not only did I talk about my experiences, but the true treasure of the day was hearing other people’s truly inspirational stories; ones that will stay with me for a long time. The day allowed me to meet government bodies, renowned mental health bloggers and other independent activists, many of whom I am still friends with today.

What would you say has been the one key thing you have learnt being a Young Champion?

I have learnt that it is never too late to change things around. I have learnt that I can make a difference. However, most importantly, I have discovered a new-found confidence, where I don’t have to hide my mental illness, but use it to do amazing things.

What are your future ambitions?

I have a passion for both creativity and equality. In spirit of this, after completing a degree in English, my aim is to work in the magazine industry with a focus in androgynist fashion and LGBTQ+ representation.

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I’ve ridden the worlds longest Urban Zipline from a 43-story building over Dubai Marina at a staggering 60mph. Oh… and I don’t like pizza.

What advice would you give a young person considering being a Champion?

Do it! Now. Right Now. Amazing opportunities are at your fingertips: grab them, with both hands.

Juliette

Juliette

Joined: 2017

Why did you join as a Young Champion?

I’ve been a Young Champion for about a year, and one of the main motivators that made me decide to join was simply the ability to help others who may struggle to help themselves. I have grown up around people suffering from mental health issues and have heard their individual stories and knew their experiences of going through a struggle with mental health and the services provided.

Joining as a Young Champion was the perfect opportunity to make a difference to the wellbeing of children and their families and to meet others from various backgrounds with differing opinions to improve my own understanding into the world of mental health.

What has been the most meaningful activity you have participated in?

I don’t really have one specific activity in mind, as all of them have been amazing. If I had to choose a couple, it would be creating a video on outcomes in the mental health service, as from an ‘outsider perspective’. It was really interesting to see how my thoughts differed from others who may have had more experience.

My other choice would be helping to run a workshop titled ‘What is a Diagnosis?’ at the SOS Mental Health Conference in 2017. This gave me the opportunity to talk to other secondary school students and teachers about the negatives and positives of mental health, whilst also reducing the stigma around certain words and situations.

What would you say has been one key thing you have learnt, being a Young Champion?

That the term ‘mental health’ is not just one simple thing. There is a wide range of information and discovering past that term that is incredibly interesting and worth being aware of.

Any words of inspiration/wisdom you would like to share for future Young Champions?

You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.” – Patrick Ness.

To me, this emphasises the importance of active involvement in the things that are important to you.

Kelsey

Kelsey

Joined: 2017

Why did you join as a Young Champion? 

Psychology has always been a big interest of mine. I also have a large experience surrounding mental health, and I feel my experiences (both positive and negative), would make an impact somewhere, to someone in some way. If I have helped and inspired at least one person I have done what I have set out to do in life.

What has been your favourite activity you have participated in?

I went to a big event in King’s Cross St Pancras in January 2018 for a launch event for Dean Stott. Dean cycled 14,000 miles with an aim to raise £1million for Heads Together – we were invited as we are a partnered charity! There were some amazing people there, it felt amazing being invited to such an exclusive event! It’s not often you are invited to a Lord and Lady’s home.

What would you say has been one key things you have learnt from being a Young Champion?

I have learnt so much confidence and key public speaking skills. My confidence has come on leaps and bounds and I cannot wait to see what the future holds! My critical thinking has developed and has been incredibly handy with my psychology degree.

What are your future ambitions?

My future ambition is to complete a PhD in Psychology or Sociology, or if all else fails I will become a high school teacher as I believe teen mental health is the making of our current and future society.

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I love Skydiving! I completed a 10,000ft Skydive and raised £1117 for a local charity, in memory of a friend who unfortunately lost her battle with mental health. I’m normally terrified of heights and could just about deal with being on the 7th floor at college! Oh and I am super chatty and talkative.

What advice would you give a young person considering being an Champion?

If you have been given the opportunity to do this – take it! It is so worth the effort, you feel welcomed, supported and you learn so many key developmental skills for future work too – in a fun way! Grab every opportunity with both hands and you certainly will feel the benefit, it is worth every moment. You get to meet incredible people, occasionally recognised by well known people, such as politicians! You will learn so much about yourself and get rewarded for all of your hard work!

Rachel

Rachel

Joined: 2018

Why did you join as a Young Champion?

They help out in so many different ways and sectors I thought it would be great to be a part of that.

What has been the your favourite activity you have participated in?

Being able to go to the youth panel and hear opinions, ideas and stories from so many different people.

What would you say has been one key thing you have learnt, being a Young Champion?

There are so many variations within mental health and no two people will be exactly the same.

What are your future ambitions?

I'm hoping to become a midwife as I think this is a perfectly suited job for me!

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I laugh… All the time!

What advice would you give a young person considering being an Champion?

If you think you have a different perspective on mental health or are wanting to add your own ideas then becoming a young champion is a great place to do this.

Selena

Selena

Joined: 2018

Why did you join as a Young Champion at AFNCCF?

I was looking online for more ways to help and get involved with mental health in the UK. Mental health problems are prevalent in life no matter where you come from or your background and so charities like the AFNCCF are very important in ensuring those who need help are able to get it.

What are you most looking forward to doing as a Champion?

I am looking forward to getting involved in fundraising and raising awareness for the Centre. I am also looking forward to getting involved in the training opportunities and learning new skills.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as a Champion?

I hope to raise awareness for mental health and its importance to young people and adults. I also want to raise the awareness of the importance of resilience and also caring continuously for someone’s mental health.

What are your future ambitions? 

I want to study psychology at university and I hope to go on and perhaps study neuroscience or look at marketing and business psychology. I hope in the future to be happy and healthy and have healthy relationships with friends and family. I also hope to have confidence and a good relationship with myself which I think is difficult to have at any age but very important to work to achieve. 

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I do a lot of sport and training. Through this I have learnt how important activity is as a form of mental release and I think it is important for all people to have something they can do to take their mind off other parts of their lives.

Cameron

Cameron

Joined: 2018

Why did you join as a Young Champion at AFNCCF?

I was introduced to the service by my mum who mentioned receiving amazing training in therapeutic techniques dealing with children in trauma. I could see that it was a service that directly improved the mental health of young people and that by volunteering I could be a part of that, while learning more about mental health myself.

What are you most looking forward to doing as a Champion?

I’m most looking forward to the research opportunities that the charity offers. Along with this, I’m excited to take part in fundraising, other training and youth panels.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as a Champion?

I would like to gain experience and knowledge in dealing with mental illness, using it to encourage speaking out about mental health and to try to improve the support system for young people.

What are your future ambitions? 

I hope to go to university to study medicine, to specialise in neurology and then to go into research surrounding mental illness

What advice would you give a young person considering being a Champion?

I would encourage anyone thinking about becoming a Champion to join! The organisation offers so many varied opportunities and events that everyone can find something they enjoy, all while giving the chance to improve mental health services and the mental health of young people.

Maddi

Maddi

Joined: 2019

Why did you join as a Young Champion at the AFNCCF?

After two friends recommended volunteering with the centre, I decided to apply. I have been passionate about mental health and wellbeing awareness and support since I was about 14, having struggled with mental illnesses since the age of 10.

What has been your favourite opportunity so far?

It’s a tie between two! I was given the opportunity to speak at the Shard as part of an ‘Can Anyone Hear Me’ event, about LGBTQ* mental health in schools. The other is the project I am currently co-producing, ‘Young Rhymes: Poetically Unapologetic’, for at-risk youth.

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I currently have 5 tattoos!

Grazia

Grazia

When did you start your Championing at AFNCCF?  2019

Why did you join as a Young Champion at AFNCCF? 

I wanted to use my experiences to help others and be involved in projects where I could make a difference.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as a Champion?

I hope to be able to help other young people who are themselves or who know someone who is struggling with their mental health. I would also like to become more confident in my time as a champion and have the opportunity to raise awareness and educate others about mental health.

What are your future ambitions?

I want to be happy and confident in myself and have a job that I love.

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I love maths!

What advice would you give a young person considering being an Champion?

Do it!

Laura

Laura

When did you start your Championing at AFNCCF?

I started as a champion at Anna Freud Centre this year on 12 October.

Why did you join as a Young Champion at AFNCCF?

I joined as a Young Champion because I want to do as much as I can to prevent other people from going through the things I have been through and still have to experience.

What are you most looking forward to doing in your time as a Champion?

I am most looking forward to training as a champion educator and to become part of the young persons’ trauma council, if I get in.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as a Champion?

I hope to feel like I've put my maximum effort into helping Anna Freud Centre to improve so they can do better work and help more kids.

What has been the one key thing you have learnt, being a Young Champion?

I have learnt that you can never judge a book by its cover. Don't assume what is going on in someone's life.

What are your future ambitions?

In the future I hope to be happy. I want to find things that truly make me happy.

Can you give a random fact about you?

A random fact about me is that when I'm older I would like to be a forensic scientist specialising in blood splatters and DNA.

What advice would you give a young person considering being a Champion?

My advice would be to have a go because you could learn new things and you could potentially help Anna Freud Centre save someone's life. 

Amaani

Amaani

When did you start your championing at AFNCCF?

12th October 2019.

Why did you join as a Young Champion?

I have always had a passion for helping young children and families. Mental health plays a big part in everyone’s lives, but people still don’t give it enough time and energy. Unfortunately, mental illness is still stigmatised: so, I joined AFNCCF in the hope to help other people who suffer – through my own experiences – and to make mental wellbeing a priority not just in my life but in everyone else’s.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as a champion?

I want to ensure that people are not alone and there is always someone there for them to talk to. I also want to raise awareness for people who aren’t as educated in mental illness, so that they are able to help themselves and anyone else in need of help. By helping other people, I aim to gain some more personal skills as well.

What are your future ambitions?

I hope to do a psychology course at University and to carry on being a mental health advocate!

Can you give us any random facts about you?

I love Disney and I despise octopuses.

What advise would you give a young person considering being a young champion?

Be yourself and get involved!

Sophie

Sophie

Joined: March 2019

Why did you join as a Young Champion at AFNCCF? 

I joined as a Young Champion after seeing the amazing work a friend that was already a Young Champion was doing, and as a young person with lived experience of mental health difficulties, I thought it would be a really great way of using a negative experience to have a positive influence. I’m also hugely passionate about breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness, and I adore volunteering (which has been researched and proven to be a great form of self-care), so becoming a Young Champion seemed a perfect way of unifying the two!

What has been the most your favourite activity you have participated in?

My favourite activity was actually my first ever activity that I did in May, when I innocently signed up to partake in a sailing simulator at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich for the launch of The King’s Cup - the Centre was one of the eight charities involved in The King’s Cup, which was a boat regatta race held to raise awareness and funds for the patronages of Their Royal Highnesses – and ended up meeting the Duchess of Cambridge! What an unexpected but brilliant way to begin my time at the Centre.

What do you hope to achieve in your time as a Champion?

I hope to step out of my comfort zone and develop new skills, as well as build upon existing ones, by getting involved in a range of fun, challenging and inspiring tasks and activities! And of course, make a difference to the perception and treatment of youth mental health and wellbeing, by raising awareness of the centre and the amazing work that we do.

What would you say has been one of the key things you have learnt, being a Young Champion?

I’ve learnt that it’s really beneficial to try something new, even if you’re a bit apprehensive about it. It may just turn out to be the best decision of your life! I’ve also been reminded of how wonderful volunteering can make you feel, so when I’m feeling a bit tired and grumpy, I now try to positively combat that by doing a Young Champion related-task, such as attending a Youth Panel or taking part in #selfcaresummer!

What are your future ambitions?

I want to do a degree in Graphic Design so that I can become a medical illustrator/graphic designer, and/or a clinical photographer. I also aspire to be the proud mother of at least five cats one day.

Can you give us a random fact about you?

I LOVE trains, in particular the London Underground, so I’m trying to enter and exit all 270 Underground stations, as well as all the Overground, DLR, and TfL Rail stations and Tram stops in the space of a year! I also have hypermobility syndrome, so I can do some pretty cool party tricks with most of my joints. How about making my thumb touch my wrist, anyone?

What advice would you give a young person considering being a Young Champion?

If you know that you can fit in the commitment of being a Young Champion alongside your studies, work commitments, social life and any other responsibilities comfortably without potentially burning yourself out, then just go ahead and jump in. We’re a friendly bunch, and you’ll be continuously supported and encouraged, so you have nothing to lose!

(Photography credit to Rūta J.M @rutajmphotos)