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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Time To Change Young Champions

I recently attended Time to Change's Young Champions training event in London. I was invited along as a facilitator for one of the afternoon workshops, and delighted to be there to discuss podcasts.

As you may know I have had a few Young Champions on previous podcast episodes as guests and attended events with them. So it was a great experience to see and hear some of the things that go into the work that the Young Champions do.

It was interesting to hear their own concerns about comparisons between themselves and other champions. Their concern that they didn't do as much as someone else or as much as they should. Yet when they spoke about what they had done, it was often more than they thought it would be. Some of those conversations too, where hugely moving! Truly every conversation matters, every one is possibly a life saved or changed. That can in turn inspire that person to go on to share with many other people, the impact is almost immeasurable. 

The first guest speaker on the day was Glenn Close, you know, from 101 Dalmatians and Gardians of the Galaxy? Well, that is where I know her from, hehe. 

I wasn't expecting much to be honest, I didn't know about Glenn's involvement with mental in the United States. 

Wow, just wow! The person experiences she shared where beautiful, heart breaking and so much more than tear jerking (I sat at the back crying, almost weeping at times). Glenn and her families experience is sadly not uncommon (in my opinion), but their strength, openness and honesty is. 

Glenn was so much more than I was expecting. In fact when I got home I watched the videos she had spoken about produced by Bring Change 2 Mind, a charity she co founded. Here are the links, watch them (Video 1Video 2)

Awesome guest number 2 was Mr. Jonny Benjamin. His question and answer session with the Young Champions was great. Again, I was struck by the openness and honesty of these speakers.

Jonny spoke of relapses, hospitalisation and attempting to put himself first. 

As a male who has and continues to struggle with thoughts of self harm, just hearing another male sit at the front of a room talking about feelings, emotions, and possibly being more honest with his phone than any human, was something I will never forget. 

Shea Wong was guest 3 and very much was a turning point in the day as the focus moved from speakers to Young Champions. Shea spoke about story telling, confidence, empowerment and being ready.

I don't know about the others in the room, but I found myself asking am I ready, thinking no, then gradually realising that ready or not, I wanted to be. To be honest, I'm kinda moved by feeling like that.

motivation, self confidence and belief isn't something I find easy, but Shea gave me a good pick up on Saturday. 

After lunch I led my podcasting session, which I will share with you another time. While I was talking podcasts, Tom led his session on craftisum, which I was gutted to miss out on. Craft is an amazing way to relax, reflect and actually produce something. I recommend you all try at least one bit of craft. Its a great way to set up a environment for potential discussions and sharing, particularly in regards to mental health. Who remembers my finger knitted scarf?

In the afternoon the Time to Change Young Champions spoke further about their achievements and how they could utilise their experiences, including recognising this on their CVs and mentioning the skills they have developed. I really liked that the Time to Change Staff Team were supporting these young people to enhance their future opportunities and employability.   

For me the day was full of inspiration, passion and hope. There was/is a real desire to raise awareness of mental health, mental health illnesses, reduce the stigma around mental health, and to help people.

As this was the final meeting / training day for these Young Champions, Joss (their Leader🙌🏼🙌🏼) gave a very emotional speech, that had me crying. I didn’t even know most of these people before the day. But seeing and hearing everything they have and will continue to do was super emotional. 

Individually and as a group, these people are all amazing! 

We all have mental health, 1 in 4 will be directly affected by a mental health illness, I am sure we all know 4 people so really everyone is affected. 

Saturday was great and I very much share the message it is Time to Talk, it is Time to Change.

If you would like to hear me talk about the Time to Change Young Champions, you can find the related podcast episode here - 

**Image of myself and Leah and first group image, provided by Leah. Image of my podcast workshop, provided by Jack**

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