Published on 8 March 2023
As the financial year ends, Stratford-on-Avon District Council is looking at how some of the recipients of its annual funding to the voluntary and community sector have been using grants to bring about the changes in their local communities that the Council seeks to bring.
At the start of last April, with the mental health of young people still a potential major problem following the isolation of the lockdowns, Stratford-on-Avon District Council awarded grants to two local organisations to support the mental wellbeing of young people in the District.
The grants, awarded in April 2022, were continuation grants to extend projects started in 2021, also funded by the District Council, to help young people who had found lockdown particularly difficult.
The grants were awarded from the District Council's annual funding to the voluntary and community sector which targets the priorities detailed in the Council's Social Inclusion Statement.
Lifespace was awarded a further £3,000 for an online 8-week mentoring programme which helps address problematic thinking patterns using elements of cognitive behavioural therapy. The programme taught strategies that young people could use to help improve the way they feel.
Andrea Gardner Development Manager at Lifespace said: "This programme has had some great results. One particular year 11 student approaching GCSEs in 2022 was struggling with school and some difficulties at home. The programme focussed on building her strengths and what she was able to achieve rather than the things she couldn't. She learned how to make space for herself, develop a revision timetable and build her confidence so she believed she could achieve her GCSE goals. She was delighted to secure a college place."
Councillor Jo Barker, Portfolio Holder for Health & Wellbeing at Stratford-on-Avon District Council, said: "Stratford District Council is committed to putting our residents centre stage, whatever their age and regardless of the issues and challenges that they face. Creating resilience in young people is very important and we know that the impact of lockdown will continue to be felt for some time to come by many, particularly some of the most vulnerable.
"Giving access to the skills to manage their thoughts and feelings when times are tough will help them cope. Getting through a difficulty gives a young person confidence that they will be able to do so again in the future and to put them in a position to make a positive contribution to their communities and the broader District."
Escape Arts has been running a Dungeons and Dragons (DND) group since July 2021 for 12-15 year olds. The game, described as a playground to make real world mistakes, allows young people to make decisions about their character and be rewarded or reprimanded accordingly without real world implications. The Dungeon Master supervises and ensures young people are supported in playing the game and follow the code of conduct agreed by the group.
Liam Alexandru, Digital Project Lead at Escape Arts, said: "Dungeons and Dragons allows the participant to create a character and reinvent themselves as a hero, to then be thrust into a story, catered especially for them. Here they will experience obstacles, adventures and challenges that require teamwork to tackle real life problems with their own specific rewards and repercussions, in a safe environment.
"Essentially, it's a sandbox to make real life mistakes. I am so proud of what the Escape Arts DND Society has achieved in its first year, with participants noticeably building confidence, creativity and social skills with a yearning for the adventure to continue."
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575