This summer a group of young consultants co-produced an overnight residential as part of our ReRooted programme. The focus of the two-days was to connect, learn skills for their own mental health and wellbeing, but most importantly to have fun! One of our Young Consultants, Molly Hackett, shares her experience of co-producing the event.
The ReRooted Programme
'So, what do you think?'. Ella, The Foyer Federation’s Programme Manager, asked me. What did I think? I thought this was going to be awesome!
So, let's go back to the beginning, shall we? I had just finished presenting one of my parts of the Foyer Federation’s Powering Up Youth Training, and we were on break, giving Ella and me time to put our heads together on an up-and-coming project.
ReRooted. The answer to Foyers up and down the country's mental health/wellness call. Ella explained that, after carefully analysing The Foyer Federation's Big Questions survey, the main feedback they had received from staff and residents was the need for education, support and understanding of the current mental health epidemic. Every Foyer has felt the strain of the current lack of mental health services, training and understanding in the UK. After successfully securing funding from UK Youth’s Thriving Minds programme and CHK Foundation, the Foyer Federation now had resources to meet this need.
The co-production process
The Foyer Federation wanted the organisation of the programme and residentials to be co-created with young people. It wasn't to be tokenistic or surface level; this was music to my ears as both a young person and youth consultant who spoke these very words every day. This project was not only a way for Foyers to have support and training regarding mental health and wellness but also to empower young residents to realise their potential and boost their confidence in the co-production. And that is exactly what happened.
We began the way most projects begin. A flurry of emails to organise our first official, in-person meeting. Which ended up being at the Foyer Federation's official offices (it sounds fancy, I know). Ella soon sent me my train ticket, an overview of what we hoped to achieve during the day, and I was off on my merry way to Manchester. The day went fabulously. I immediately felt at ease with the group, and, with the support of Ella, we began to plan and create the residential. The group came up with some fantastic ideas, and I was once again reminded of young people's intelligence, integrity and passion. We walked away from the meeting a little exhausted, a lot excited and with a plan to in place make this project a success.
After the great start, over the next month or so, we began making traction as we moved online as a group. A Trello board was set up that everyone could edit and comment on. Dates were made, emails exchanged, ideas traded, and content created.
We all had our roles in making the residential a success. Mine was to continue to help support the creation of the youth residential and offer a workshop around one of my passions, self-care. It is an often overused term but can be a great tool to help support mental wellness. The workshop consisted of everything from a short dance workout to get the body energised and the soul laughing to a brief overview of the two simplified main aspects of self-care: physical self-care and mental self-care. All wrapped together with my own experience of mental illness and wellness, to bring a sense of authenticity.
The ReRooted residential itself
After multiple more meetings and finalisation planning, the time soon came for the residential, to see the materialisation of all our hard work.
As the taxi pulled up to the event space, I had hardly stepped out of the car before I was happily greeted by one of the amazing young people with whom I had co-created the ReRooted residential. And from there, I was swept up in the day. We had introductions and fun icebreakers, which soon became workshops and relaxed activities with plenty of breaks in between and time buffers added in (a great idea we came up with to help with the flow of the day and overstimulation in sessions).
It soon came time for my workshop, and it went off without a hitch. I learned such a lot from the experience and everyone who attended offered positive feedback. I'm still so thankful to the Foyer Federation for giving me the opportunity and support I had throughout. It is something that I will never forget and will continue to learn from in years to come.
After a bonfire and marshmallows, a relaxing meditation session and a final workshop, it was time to say goodbye to the first-ever ReRooted residential. With both positive feedback and recommendations for the future, we bid farewell for the time being and said hello to the times ahead, which are bright with a multitude of upcoming events, projects and plans. And I, for one, can't wait.
Want to get involved?
If you are interested in getting involved with the Foyer Federation’s wide variety of co-production opportunities for young people, please get in touch. From developing events, to delivering training, to writing a blog post for our national website – there’s so much to get stuck into, and we'd love to have you. Remember, all opportunities are un-tokenistic, and you will be compensated for your time and effort. Contact [email protected] for more information.
More about Molly
Molly uses her lived experience to lead on various social action projects, including working with The Foyer Federation, The NHS, Clarion Futures, and The Royal Commonwealth Society – which have led her to be a self-employed Youth Consultant. She has skills on everything from interviews to training to public speaking. If you're interested in her work or want advice on empowering your young people, please get in touch. Email: [email protected] (website coming soon).