A national charity that uses snowsports to change the lives of young people has launched a pilot mental health programme with the help of BACP member Kevin Hempsted.
Kevin is working with Snow-Camp, which aims to turn young lives around through skiing, snowboarding, life skills, training, qualifications and work experience, on its new Uplift scheme after seeing how the charity helped transform the life of his nephew Jonjoe Boulter.
Uplift was introduced after Snow-Camp’s own research showed that more than 80 per cent of the young people it worked with last year felt the need for more mental health support.
Kevin said: “Snow-Camp changed Jonjoe’s life. They really helped him pull it round. It gave him a purpose and something to aim to. It showed him that people believed in him and that was huge.”
Jonjoe is now a qualified ski coach in Verbier, Switzerland and is working to become an instructor with the Warren Smith Academy.
Now Jonjoe's journey has inspired his uncle, and Kevin will be working alongside Dr Carla Stanton on the delivery of Uplift.
The programme will include workshops and sessions that will help young people with low-esteem, self-confidence and coping mechanisms.
Kevin said: “I looked at it and whether there was something I could offer to take it a little bit further, to give these kids the opportunity to have a voice and be heard, and to be encouraged and nurtured along the way.
“We will be looking at self-care, how we speak to each other, how we think about ourselves. We will be doing artwork, movement, group work.
“Each session will end with an open group where they can talk about what they are feeling and get used to speaking about what they are feeling, so that they don’t sit on their emotions.”
Kevin, who has been clean and sober for 14 years, qualified as a counsellor in 2017. He has a private practice in Islington and Haggerston in London and also volunteers at One in Four, a charity which specialises in supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse, and particularly survivors of child sexual abuse and trauma.
“I want to give something back,” he said. “On my journey people have helped me along the way. I would like people not to experience what I experienced.
“That’s why, with all the potential that children have, I want to say to them that there is help available, it is okay to talk.”
Lucy Chadburn, Snow-Camp’s London programme manager, said: “The young people we work with have quite tough lives. To be able to have a neutral space with a professional like Kevin to support their sessions is a great thing.
“We see that mental health is something young people increasingly struggle with and don’t often have the means or resources to cope with.
“Having Kevin able to provide this for our young people is amazing – it is so much needed.”
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