Groundbreaking Scheme Wins National Award

A groundbreaking scheme to encourage teenage boys to look after their mental health has won a prestigious national award.

Stepping Up Coach Dan Wiseman has made a tremendous impact at his secondary school, UCA, since starting his role in October and has helped to establish an after school club themed Boys in Blue.

This is delivered in partnership with Cleveland Police and helps young males deal with a range of different issues and scenarios in a safe environment.

The initiative has now won the Health and Wellbeing category of the national AET (Academies Enterprise Trust) Remarkable Lives competition 2020.

Dan, pictured far right, helps deliver the programme for MFC Foundation and he said: “It’s great to be recognised for the work we have been doing, but what’s even more rewarding is the difference we are making to these young boys’ lives. It’s so important that these lads feel they have a safe space to talk, make new friends and have fun in a safe environment.”

The club was the brainchild of PCSO Blackburn who explained why she had done it. “I set up the club to reinforce the message that there’s no stigma attached to mental health issues and that it’s ok to open up if the teenagers are struggling with mental health, relationships, cyber-bullying or drug and alcohol issues.

“The work I’m doing with UCA and MFC Foundation is all about building trust with these young men, to break down barriers and challenge any perceived stigma regarding mental health.

“The support from both parties – and the students – has been second to none and I’d like to thank them all for this. We all agree that the young people who take part have already seen great benefits.

“Although sessions haven’t been able to run as usual under the COVID-19 period, this award has come as a real boost for everyone involved.”

Among other activities in the club, the young men can play x-box and table football and occasionally listen to guest speakers.

Lead for UCA’s Retreat, Tracey Connor, commented: “The Retreat is extremely proud of being a part of Boys in Blue. The Retreat looks after the mental health, social and emotional needs of all students in UCA, so this fits in perfectly with Boys in Blue after school club.

“The club has gone from strength to strength and is really making a difference to our young male students. They are becoming much more confident in talking about mental health issues and with each guest speaker they are made aware of how other people have got through their own difficulties. Also about clubs, charities and agencies that can help support them if needed.”

Well done everyone, especially our Dan!