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Youth council's unique conference presentation takes shape
01/10/2015

A group of young people who will share their experiences of mental ill health at an international conference in October have been putting the final touches to a unique presentation which they will use to tell their story.

Members of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) youth council have worked with artist Juliet Lockhart to create puppets of themselves which they will use to deliver a narrative put together with the help of poet Luke Wright and scriptwriter Molly Naylor.

The performance will be filmed and shown to delegates from around the world at the International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH) conference, which takes place in Canada from 8 October onwards. It aims to give an insight into mental ill health from a young person’s perspective, including their experiences of accessing help and the benefits which becoming members of NSFT’s youth council has brought them.

The presentation has been made possible by the sterling fundraising efforts of the 12-strong group, who have spent the past few months completing car washes, sponsored walks, quizzes, cake sales and various other activities to raise the £38,000 they need for the trip. They are now more than half way to their goal, having raised around £26,000.

Emma Corlett, young people participation lead with NSFT, said: “We are delighted with the way both the fundraising has gone so far, and the results of the puppet and writing workshops we held with Juliet, Luke and Molly. We hope the end result will be a unique and memorable presentation which will really stick in the minds of those attending the conference.

“We have been incredibly impressed with the way the young people have embraced this project, working together as a team to organise events and raise money. This conference is a really fantastic opportunity for them – as well as helping them gain confidence, we hope it will also inspire them while giving them some new ideas for further improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing which we could then bring home to Norfolk and Suffolk.”

Juliet, who is based in Suffolk, has been using puppets to help people to communicate for around a decade. She said: “I started working with puppets as I was interested in developing an alternative way for people to communicate especially if they felt they had no voice, or that, for whatever reason, their voice had been taken away from them.

“I was so impressed with the effort and energy which the youth council members put into this project and am delighted that they will be using their puppets to tell their stories at the conference.”

Luke, who lives in Suffolk, and Molly, from Norwich, held two workshops with the youth council members this week, while Juliet worked with them to complete the puppets in late August.

Molly said: “These young people are a wonderful bunch who have made some powerful and inspiring work. It’s been a privilege to be a part of their journey.”

Luke added: “It’s been a delight working with this group. They’ve come up with some stunning work. I know they’ll do us proud in Canada.”

Youth council member Esme Pears said: “I found working with Luke and Molly to be really inspiring. They gave us the freedom to explore for ourselves what we wanted to say, but the structure to say it in a way that would have the most impact. They were non-judgmental, and great fun and I had a really good time working with them.”

Anyone who would like to donate to the youth council’s ongoing fundraising campaign can visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/nsftyouthmentalhealth