LifeLine Projects

Stories and successes from the second year of SW!TCH Minds

Back in June 2021, we presented you with some stats from the first full year of SW!TCH Minds. The programme has now been operating for over two full years and two cohorts of young people have taken part in a complete mentoring cycle.

We—Rachel Dunford Consulting—have continued to review the impact of SW!TCH Minds throughout its second year and we’d like to update you about some more of the amazing work being done by LifeLine’s Youth Development Workers in schools and communities across East London.

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96% of young people who took part in year two of SW!TCH Minds said that they would recommend the programme to other young people.

What is SW!TCH Minds?

SW!TCH Minds improves and supports the mental health of young people through a combination of in-school mentoring, positive activities, and holiday progammes.

During the pandemic and school closures, this involved maintaining regular contact, and running a range of online and COVID-secure in-person activities to ensure the young people didn’t become isolated or physically inactive.

Parents and carers have also been supported during this time in coordination with LifeLine’s Champions Support Network programme set up in response to this identified need.

What young people want from SW!TCH Minds
Someone to talk to 60%
Someone to listen to them 47%
Help with their feelings 46%
Help with their problems 43%

“I like having someone to talk to, helping me with anything I need help with, and helping me understand my emotions. It helps me understand who I am and reminds me that nobody is perfect, but you should be the best version of you.”

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Found one-to-one mentoring sessions to be helpful
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Found taking part in positive activities to be helpful

From a young person's perspective

“I want to thank [my YDW] so, so much for helping me through this past year it has been amazing and I would like to stay with [them] for a while because [they have] helped me a lot building my self-confidence, talking to [them], solving my problems."

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Said that they felt helped to be safe and supported
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Said that they had become more confident
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Said they could better understand their feelings

From a Youth Development Worker's perspective

"I was told how much they valued coming to the sessions and speaking to me. They were able to be vulnerable in front of me, sharing things they had gone through or are going through - being able to cry or express anger towards a situation or person. I was able to help them address certain issues, I was able to speak to the school about some concerns. My mentees knew I cared about them and knew I would only have to take it further if they were at risk or could potentially be at risk.”

SW!TCH Ambassadors

Young people who have shown leadership skills throughout their time in SW!TCH Minds are invited to participate in a residential course to become a SW!TCH Ambassador. This is an opportunity to lead activities of their own, start their own community projects, and learn how to become peer mentors to others.

To date, nine young people from SW!TCH Minds have been trained as SW!TCH Ambassadors and are currently supporting the SW!TCH team with activities and acting as advocates for the SW!TCH Minds programme.

Brian (name changed) joined SW!TCH Minds in August 2020 with the goal of improving his confidence as well as developing leadership skills. He took part in a range of positive activities on offer—notably football, boxing, and skating sessions—as well as going on trips with other young people. He saw his confidence greatly improve during his time on the programme, both in working alongside his peers and as a leader. He says the best thing about being in SW!TCH Minds was the:

“…opportunities to lead and be a better version of you."

Brian was motivated to become a SW!TCH Ambassador by his desire to gain further confidence. After completing the three day training course, he has lead multiple positive activities for other young people while continuing to take part in weekly activities and help other young people engage with the programme.

If a young person was considering joining SW!TCH Minds, Brian would tell them:

“Do it. It’ll help you emotionally, physically and socially, you’ll make friends and gain advice to help you through everything… every opportunity will help you become a better you and will get you out there more.”

What schools think

“[SW!TCH Minds] allow[s] [the young people] the opportunity to reflect on the decisions they make on a daily basis that effect their lives and facilitate and support them in making positive choices and decisions in their lives.”

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Thought that SW!TCH Minds had been a success
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Would recommend SW!TCH Minds to other schools
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Said that students were helped to form trusting relationships with others
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Said that students were helped to feel safe and supported
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Said that students were happier and more confident

“It’s a safe space for people who are struggling a bit and want someone to talk to for half an hour. That genuinely is how I see it. A lot of provision complicates matters and, actually, children just want someone a bit closer to their own age to talk to. It’s not a counsellor they require… it’s someone who gets them and let off some steam and that’s what I see the SW!TCH Minds project offering.”

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Rachel Dunford

Rachel Dunford is an independent education consultant with 20 years’ experience of supporting clients who work in education or with young people. She works on projects that focus on the needs of children and young people, and particularly on improving outcomes for disadvantaged families. Rachel delivers project management, evaluation, qualitative and quantitative research, and impact assessment services for businesses, charities and local authorities.

These articles may contain testimonials by LifeLine staff members and service users of our programmes and/or services. These testimonials reflect the real-life experiences and opinions of such staff members/service users. However, the experiences are personal to those staff members/service users and may not necessarily be representative of all staff members/service users of our programmes and/or services. We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all staff members/service users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.

Testimonials are submitted in various forms such as text, audio and/or video, and are reviewed by us before being posted. They appear in the newsletter in words as given by the staff members and service users, except for the correction of grammar or typing errors. Some testimonials may have been shortened for the sake of brevity where the full testimonial contained extraneous information not relevant to the general audience.

The views and opinions contained in the testimonials belong solely to the individual user and do not reflect our views and opinions. Staff members/service users are not paid or otherwise compensated for their testimonials.



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