This year the Memorial Award will be dedicated to Erin Donald (1998-2020) – Erin was a remarkable young woman who won the Memorial Award in 2019 with a plan to study drug rehabilitation programmes in Russia and South Africa. In 2017 Erin was a participant on the Rank Aspire Programme based in the Brook Charity, Liverpool. Following a very successful year Erin was accepted onto a university course to study social work, a long-held ambition. Erin took her own life in May 2020. To the outside world Erin had overcome so much and had a bright future ahead but internally she was struggling and with devastating consequences.
With Erin in mind, we announced the 2021 Memorial Award to support an individual who has designed their own programme of learning around Suicide Prevention, Emotional Health and Well-Being. Therefore, we are delighted to announce that the selection committee has awarded three Memorial Awards to Martha Robbins, Amaleehah Aslam-Forrester and Laura Adams.
Martha, current Time to Shine leader at mental health charity Off The Record, will be spending a month in Japan looking at the state of Japanese mental health and suicide prevention services, within the context of the Japanese third sector, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Martha has not only been the Fundraising Officer at Off The Record, but also spends several hours every week as a Listening Support Worker in 1:1 sessions with young people facing challenges such as depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and abuse- helping to give them a safe, confidential space to talk and access support. Having completed her French and Japanese BA at Cardiff University in 2020, Martha is excited to combine her linguistic and cultural knowledge with two key areas of interest in her career- the third sector, and mental health. Japan has long suffered with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and although the decade leading up to 2020 saw this rate slowly decrease, the pandemic appears to have reversed the trend. Mental health awareness is comparatively low in Japan, and seeking out mental health support is a new concept for most people. Martha will be spending time with TELL and private counselling providers to learn more. Charities exist differently in Japan in comparison to the UK, for a variety of reasons. Power, responsibility, and public trust of NPOs in Japan is relatively low, where generally more trust is placed in the government to look after its citizens than in the West. However, non-profit organisations are growing in influence in Japan, and Martha will be going right to the source to learn more with NPO Centre Japan (Japan’s equivalent of The Charity Commission).
Amaleehah is a 2020 Time to Shine leader and is a project, fundraising, and events officer at the youth-led Bristol-based charity Integrate UK. Amaleehah facilitates creative and educational workshops for young people promoting gender and racial equality and youth activism. Amaleehah has chosen to travel to Australia and New Zealand to explore how these countries promote gender and racial equality to support the wellbeing of young women and girls from diverse and indigenous communities. Amaleehah would like to learn more about how New Zealand embraces the indigenous people of their country and learn how this approach could be adapted to support the emotional health and wellbeing of young women newly arriving in the UK. These findings could be shared with organisations in the UK with a view to future collaborative work. In Australia, Amaleehah would like to work with leading Australian gender equality organisations that work to prevent violence, sexual harassment, and honour-based abuse, to improve wellbeing for all women in Australia. Volunteering with youth-participation organisations, Amaleehah is hoping to learn how to better engage young people in youth activism and understand more about the challenges of inclusive youth work including why it is so difficult to engage young women from aboriginal communities. Amaleehah would like to use this experience to develop her skills and abilities to better support and nurture the young women with whom she works and share her knowledge with youth-led organisations in the UK charity sector.
Laura, a current Time to Shine leader at Real Ideas, will be travelling to the Netherlands, America, and Canada to explore how new immersive technology can be used to support children to learn wellbeing strategies. Laura will be visiting the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab at Radboud University to understand more about how they are using games technology to make wellbeing accessible and appealing to children and young people. She will then be travelling to Los Angeles to visit Headspace, a fantastic meditation app, to learn more about how they use animation to ensure that their audience are engaged in the practice. Finally, Laura will be heading to Ontario to meet with Youth Mental Health Canada who are a youth-led non-profit organisation that are campaigning for more representation and a better understanding of mental health conditions. Upon returning from the trip, Laura is excited to start creating wellbeing content for the new Immersive Dome that recently opened in the Market Hall in Plymouth. This content will be aimed at young children, teaching them wellbeing techniques as a preventative mental health strategy. Laura is also hoping to use this opportunity to understand the potential application of immersive technology in mental health research as part of her Masters, and potentially Doctorate, degree.
We would like to congratulate Amaleehah, Martha and Laura on their successful applications and we will be hearing from them during and after their travels.