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Schools sign up to Youth Council’s 1757 Voices Charter

Published Tuesday, 26th March 2019

Jasmine Thompson, Felix Johnson, Amy Burdett and Marco Mann holding large numbers 1757.

Teachers from schools across Southend signed up to the Youth Council 1757 Charter to promote and protect young people’s mental wellbeing.

The Youth Council decided they needed to understand what young people wanted from their mental health and emotional wellbeing support in schools and devised a survey to which 1,757 young people attending secondary school responded.

Their feedback led to the creation of the 1757 Voices Charter, providing clear objectives to how teachers can support and improve the wellbeing of pupils.

The charter has four aims:

  •        strengthening trust by respecting the privacy and confidentiality of young people
  •        having better promotion of the support services available and of how to access them
  •        increasing support for teachers with training and for students with counselling sessions
  •        creating a more open, safe and mental health-friendly school environment

Marco Mann, Youth Mayor, said: “There has been an increased focus on the importance of mental health recently, and the Youth Council felt developing this charter was especially important in light of the pressure young people can face these days. Young people are indeed facing all the problems our parents did such as exam stress, puberty changes and social issues, but our generation is doing so in the spotlight glare of social media and it is very important to recognise this.

“By developing this charter, we feel we have given the 1,757 young people who took part a voice on the importance of mental health, and we have given the school community a way of raising the issue of mental health and wellbeing with their students.

“By raising awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing we hope more young people will access the support they need. We are pleased with the local schools who sent representatives to our launch event, to find out more and sign our charter as a promise to current and future students to uphold the key four aims and respond this national epidemic.”

Improving mental health services and making support available in schools was one of five key aims nationally and locally, as outlined in the 2018 Make Your Mark ballot, UK Youth Parliament’s largest annual consultation of young people. Southend Youth Council worked with Member of UK Youth Parliament, Alex Small to gain its highest voting turnout in Southend in a youth vote.

All schools and selected VIPs were invited to the special launch event at The Hive on Monday 25 March to officially launch the 1757 Charter. School representatives were given the opportunity to sign the pledge.

Tracy Coster, assistant headteacher at St Christopher’s School in Leigh-on-Sea, attended the event because as well as teaching children with special educational needs, it raises the issue of mental health and wellbeing with the wider public. She said: “We really want to get on board with the charter, because if we don’t help children at a young age to manage their mental health, they develop issues as an adult when it’s harder to deal with.”

Robin Bevan, headteacher of Southend High School for Boys, says the school has been a long term supporter of the youth council, with three students as members including Marco. He said: “For a long time the school has had a commitment to help young people grow in a balanced and self-sustaining way, incorporating good health and good choices. The passion and leadership skills the youth council have shown towards the challenge of developing this charter is admirable, especially because the charter may well have ripples beyond Southend.”

Rachel Worth, deputy headteacher at Southend School for Boys, added: “For a number of reasons we have seen increasing numbers of children with mental health issues, talking about mental health. A lot of our students did the survey and were among the 1757 so having that feedback and signing the charter commits us to meeting the needs of the children as best we can.”

To read the charter in full here or visit the Southend Youth Council website.