How Blackburn are helping students make the step up

22 Nov 2022
PL Inspires, Blackburn Rovers

"Life-changing" PL Inspires programme giving young people the chance to look after their mental wellbeing

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The Premier League Inspires programme has been running since 2019, creating life-changing opportunities for young people who have been identified by their schools as needing extra support to engage with activities.

This week we are taking a look at how the programme has had an impact on young people across the country.

Blackburn Rovers

For the last three years, the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust (BRCT) has used PL Inspires as a one-to-one mentoring programme with the aim of helping Year 7 students and their transition into secondary school.

The move into secondary school can be a difficult time for many students and these issues were brought into sharp focus with lockdown and the Coronavirus pandemic.

And in Blackburn, students who are identified as ones that would benefit from the BRCT programme then help to guide how the sessions take shape.

The sessions concentrate on communication, building confidence and looking after mental wellbeing and involve a variety of activities chosen by the students, whether that be art, chess, football or computer coding.

The impact of PL Inspires

"From Year 7 I wasn't happy and now I am," said Logan, who is one participant on the programme. "When we did those sessions it was someone to talk to, like a counsellor.

"Premier League Inspires has been life-changing."

Since it began, BRCT have supported 87 young people with their mental wellbeing through the programme.

"We are so proud of the impact of the programme," said Simon Wootton, BRCT's mental wellbeing manager.

"Financial pressures are very real in schools at the moment - it's often tempting to prioritise high volume interventions. This one is relatively lower-volume, but the impact is what it's all about.

"It's amazing how often young people don't get a lot of time to be truly heard. It's about being there, hearing them properly and caring about helping them to move forwards."

Witton Park Academy is one of the partner schools that work with BRCT and they say having the club and the programme in the school has been "invaluable".

"Simon has worked with some of our most challenging and vulnerable students and succeeded in fostering a culture of openness and honesty around mental health whilst inspiring our students to succeed," said Michelle Dagger, a Social, Emotional and Mental Health Officer at Witton Park.

"He has created a safe environment for our young people to feel respected, valued and has encouraged the development of positive attitudes, behaviour and social skills."

Also in this series

Part 1: PL Inspires celebrates three years of changing lives
Part 2: Man Utd encouraging young people to grow into role models
Part 4: How AFC Bournemouth helped change a schoolboy's path
Part 5: Learning from the press box: Wigan's media experience
Part 6: 'Students believe they have a future thanks to Cardiff City'

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