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  • Writer's pictureBeth Nunn

MP Paul Maynard visits Unity Academy

On Friday 5th April, local MP Paul Maynard visited Year 10 students at Unity Academy, Blackpool who are currently working on the Future Ready programme with social enterprise PIE (Pursuing Individual Excellence). This group of students were meeting with Mr Maynard to help share with him their views on mental health and show how passionate they are to change the stigma with young people around discussing mental health.

The PIE Future Ready programme is all about developing young people’s skills that they don’t necessarily learn in school. As part of this programme the Unity Academy students have created a campaign to help raise awareness of mental health issues with young people in the local community. They have developed their Healthy Unity Minds campaign which has included conducting a whole school questionnaire about mental health, creating an online campaign to raise awareness of mental health and create posters and advice leaflets around school. They believe the help that young people deserve is not there when it’s needed most, and wrote letters to Mr Maynard to ask him what him and the council were doing to help support this issue in Blackpool.

Paul Maynard said “That is my main focus”, when the students addressed their concerns about provision for mental health support for young people. He said that there is not enough being done of a preventive nature in schools to help ensure that young people can cope with additional stress and pressures in society. When the students asked if he’d help them in taking their campaign further than their school, he kindly obliged saying he’d do anything to help them support other young people across Blackpool.

During the conversation, the students discussed a number of things with Mr Maynard. The first was about how they are working with their schools senior leadership team to introduce Mental Health lessons to the life skills curriculum; Mr Maynard said that mental health education should start at an earlier age to prevent it becoming a more serious thing later on in life and was pleased to hear that the students work had led to headteacher Mr Cooke changing the curriculum so that students from Year 5 would have lessons about mental health from September. They also discussed the importance of the older generations understanding the pressures and concerns of young people. Year 10 student Connor said “I think it is important as young people that we raise awareness to the older generation of the issues that we are tackling”. Mr Maynard said that he wants to arrange an intergenerational solidarity group to get young people’s voices heard across the town.

The students are currently writing a letter to the ministers of education and health to try and get their campaign to improve provision and education about mental health across the country. The pupils are planning a mental health awareness fun day in the summer to raise both awareness and money. Mr Maynard said he’d be glad to help.

Find out more about the work students are doing by following them on Twitter @humblackpool.

(Written by Paige, Connor, Emily and Corey)

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