Youth Health Champions ‘Spread the Love’ as they promote emotional health and wellbeing

15 February 2017

Youth Health Champions will take to the streets of St Albans this weekend as part of their ‘Spread the Love’ campaign to promote mental health and wellbeing in the community.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Youth Health Champions Programme, delivered by Hertfordshire County Council Youth Connexions, has trained 37 young people in St Albans to cascade critical health messages to their peers. This Saturday (18th February), they will be in St Albans Market for their campaign which promotes mental health and the importance of people feeling connected with the world around them.

The champions will run a charity stall and invite shoppers to select for free from a range of goods on the stall which they can then put together in a gift box which will be distributed to local elderly or isolated residents, young homeless people or unaccompanied asylum seekers. There will also be items for sale and visitors to the stall can also take part in a gratitude activity, where they will be invited to send a message to say thank you to someone they forgot to thank in the past. They will also be collecting on behalf of Youth charities: Youth Talk, Hectors House, The OLLIE Foundation and Herts Young Homeless.

The activity is being funded by the Feeling Good Week initiative and was planned to coincide with Valentine’s week to remind people who may be feeling lonely that they are not alone. 

Youth Health Champions are volunteers who are trained to cascade critical health messages and direct their peers to support services. During their training they have come to understand that loneliness can trigger the onset of low mood and depression and other mental health conditions.

Mental Health champion for St Albans District, Councillor Anthony Rowlands, said: “'Our local Youth Health Champions are fulfilling a vital role in raising the profile of mental health issues. They are leading by example in both showing an understanding of the impact of loneliness and taking practical steps to help people.”

Jenna Morris, Youth Health Champion and project manager, said: “Feeling Good Week is the perfect opportunity to make sure that those who feel lonely or need support know that there are places and people who will listen and can give advice and support. We hope to play our part as Youth Health Champions and signpost people to the support they need and give others the opportunity to do something for someone else - in that way we begin to conquer loneliness and support our local community during this time period where the word 'love' is everywhere. We want to help people feel love and we hope, this in one way we can start to 'spread the love’”.

The group are still collecting donations so if anyone would like to help they are looking for wrapping paper, shoe boxes, tea coffee, chocolates (long shelf life), stationary, toiletries, scarves, hats, gloves, socks, nappies, wipes and baby cream. These can be dropped off at the Youth Connexions shop on Catherine St between 2-4pm today until Friday, or you can contact Debi at debi.roberts@hertfordshire.gov.uk for collection.