Meet Megs, YES Business Development Manager

21st May 2024

In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month and the launch of Big Give’s Kind2Mind fundraising campaign (14-28 May 2024), we interviewed Megs, the Business Development Manager for our Youth Education Service (YES). During our conversation, we explored Meg’s passion for supporting young people and her insights on education’s crucial role in supporting mental health for those facing homelessness or leaving care.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role at YES.


“Hey! I’m Megs, I have a naughty cockerpoo called Rummy, I love the sea and surfing, and since September last year, I have been the manager at our Youth Education Service (YES).

YES offers alternative English and Maths tutoring in small groups or 1:1 with 16-25-year-old young people. Our tutors are creative, friendly, and flexible allowing young people to learn in a way that suits them.

We have a great selection of biscuits, and if you ask to learn maths through baking cakes – I’m sure we will agree that’s a fab idea!”

 

Why is education important when supporting young people with their mental health?

“I believe access to good education is a basic human right, and fundamental to aiding helpful choices and a healthy mind. Many of our young people have not had positive experiences of education in their past, often due to trauma in the family home, bullying, or other reasons outside of the young person’s control.

This leads to the student leaving school believing that they’re not capable, which then becomes a narrative they carry with them through life when making decisions for their future. The national reading age of the UK prison population is 7. There is a direct link between lack of education and ending up in jail.

Whilst mainstream education works for most, it doesn’t work for all. So it is imperative we offer alternative ways of getting an education if we want to support everyone to have an opportunity to feel confident and believe in themselves.”

 

How does YES support young people with their mental health?

“Yesterday, in the middle of a maths class a student asked their tutor if they had ever experienced a ‘lull’ in their own mental health. The tutor felt comfortable to have conversations around their own mental health, which led to an open and group discussion about depression. The normalising element of this for this young person was profound and gave the student confidence to explain how he was feeling at the moment. It demonstrates that just by being in a safe space young people feel able to open up. This example is the kind of daily reminder I get from our students that having safe spaces and role models is the most important thing to keep them safe.”

Whilst obtaining qualifications through YES is important and helpful for future prospects, we believe the thing we’re best at is showing young people that they are capable, and supporting them to discover their own strength, re-writing the ‘I can’t’ narrative and giving our young people ambition, skill and confidence.”

Do you have any tips for managing mental health?


Yes! A few!

  • Never forget … being human = feeling rubbish sometimes!
  • Not all thoughts are true even if they feel it!
  • We all have judgy thoughts about ourselves that don’t feel nice, but if we stay curious about them, we might find they can be helpful!

 

Why do you believe people should donate to the Big Give Kind2Mind campaign, and what impact do you hope it will have on supporting young people?

Many of the young people we work with don’t have anyone they could borrow a tenner off for some food if they were in desperate need. For lots of us, this stress has never even crossed our minds. The cost-of-living crisis for all of us is real, but inequality is also real and small donations help us make the south west just a teeny, weeny bit more socially just!

Thanks for reading!

 

Support the Big Give’s Kind2Mind Fundraising Campaign

You can help support the mental health of young people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness and leaving care by donating to Big Give’s Kind2Mind campaign. From 12pm on the 14th of May and 12pm on the 28th of May 2024, Big Give is matching your donations, your £10 becomes £20, £50 turns into £100 and so on. Double your kindness here.

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