Young people at Atherton Community School have been learning about the risks of becoming involved in knife crime and finding out about how to look after their mental health in workshops run by staff from Wigan Council and young people’s counselling service, Willow.
The sessions were arranged following the results of the Make Your Mark young people’s ballot, run nationally by the UK Youth Parliament and locally by Wigan Council’s youth group, Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet.
17,000 local young people took part in the ballot last November and mental health and knife crime were voted as the top 2 issues young people in Wigan Borough were most concerned about.
Wigan Council and partner organisations are working with Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet to improve support for young people.
Pastoral and PSHE and C Co-ordinator at Atherton Community School, Laura Eaves, says,
‘We know that both knife crime and mental health are issues nationally and it’s made a big difference to have professionals come into school to discuss these subjects with young people. Listening to someone new can have a real impact and the young people have responded really well. We want young people to have time in school to think about these subjects, get access to good information and build skills to resist peer pressure and improve their self-esteem so that they will make positive choices as they go through life.’
The session on knife crime encouraged young people to think about the severity of knife crime offences, understand the impact knife crime might have on direct and indirect victims, think about alternative ways to solve disputes and think of ways to reduce knife crime offences in society.
The session on mental health helped the young people to think about how to stay calm in difficult situations and offered them coping strategies to help them deal with stress, pressure and anxiety.