Making Changes

Starting as a group of friends, Making Changes is now a local group set up to support young people with their positive wellbeing. One of the founding group members, Sarah Ashley, tells us why they set up Making Changes and what they hope to achieve.

Sarah and friends first came to Youth Focus North East wanting to find ways they could use their life experiences to help others. They started working with staff to shape their ideas as part of the You + Us #iwill social action programme. They came up with various different issues they were passionate about addressing, but decided to focus on mental health and wellbeing.

‘’As a group we realised that there aren’t many non clinical routes to taking care of our mental health without a charge – we felt this needed to change. We decided that we wanted to provide a free service for the community all of the community to come together to celebrate differences gain knowledge of a variety of things by trying new things as when you succeed at something new it creates a positive happy feeling.”

After slowly developing their confidence and juggling their own personal challenges, the group found a rhythm, and started to connect with other local services to enhance their knowledge and ensure they pitched their offer right. The group tested their idea in Gateshead using local community space at the Comfrey Project.

“We discovered there was a need for this by going out to organisations and speaking to the people that use there service we also noticed that not many organisations integrate ages, gender, religion, race and we really wanted to create something that the full of our community can be involved in and help break down some barriers’’.

The success of the group is a reflection of the progress and development of Sarah, Jasmine and the group. Starting from a simple, shared goal, matched with determination and commitment, Making Changes has secured funding to continue running workshops and providing valuable opportunities for their community.

“Providing people with the opportunity to come together and meet new people and have fun can mean the difference from being isolated and lonely. Giving people the chance to come together once a week to try new things and hear from professionals who can give insight on having the upper hand on your mental health as well as learning other skills like cooking; budgeting, mindfulness, sport, craft, art and much more. This can give individuals confidence, self esteem, communication skills and much more.”

Long may their success continue.