Young People’s Project
In June 2022 we started the Blide’s Young People’s Project, working alongside Care Experienced Young People (CEYP) aged 16-25 to overcome hurdles, access opportunities and recognise successes. Being ‘Care Experienced’ means living, or having lived, in care as a child. Relationships are at the heart of the project because this is where the greatest opportunities for healing and wellbeing are found, in the interactions and support between individuals, small groups and the wider community.
We work closely with partner agencies; offering a weekly drop-in alongside OIC Community Learning and Development Team (CLDT) where the group prepare and share a meal and do an activity of their choice such as a mood boards, beach trips and bonfires! The links with CLDT have led to people achieving food hygiene certificates, finding work, and passing driving theory tests. We share the running of a weekly art group with Right There, paying a local artist to lead activities at the new Employability Hub, and we’ve had successful pottery courses with Robin Palmer which have offered some of the most transformative moments.
“Concentrating at pottery stopped me overthinking and made me realise I like using my hands. It’s why I applied to work in a bakery”
(he’s still loving his job 10 months on)
In response to enthusiasm from the group, we have started opening the Blide café on Saturdays to offer young people the opportunity to volunteer, building skills and confidence in a supportive environment. We’ve had four young people come in regularly, each finding their own area of expertise.
One to one support is entirely personalised, and has included cooking sessions, yoga classes, gym sessions, study support, long walks, sea swimming, support to appointments, reflective conversations, and working through CBT based support programmes. The common theme is building relationships and developing strategies and habits for best possible mental wellbeing. Several young people have moved into their first home, and it’s been a privilege to support with all aspects, from setting up direct debits to meeting new neighbours.
In February 2023, we took eight young people to Inverness ‘Tending of Light’, an event hosted by Who Cares? Scotland. This was an amazing opportunity to spend four days alongside Care Experienced young people from across Scotland. Corporate Parents and young people worked together acknowledging experiences of care, celebrating resilience, and generating creative ideas for positives changes. We hope to arrange more residential experiences as these offer great opportunities for expanding understandings, challenging ourselves and nurturing relationships.
Whilst our project focuses upon Care Experienced Young People, the need for robust and welcoming mental health support for all Orkney’s young people is increasingly clear. We often receive enquiries from parents/carers and professionals regarding young people. We’re pleased to discuss concerns, and offer support and guidance, and wish to continue developing our service through working closely with young people, their families, statutory services, and our third sector partners.
All our activities are funded through donations and we’re incredibly grateful to Mind On, Soma’s Light, SOCA, Tesco for financial support, as well as individual fundraisers, and the Picky Centre for kindly offering ‘budget memberships’ to all CEYP.