Credit: the Charlie Waller Trust
By Claire Ward
Since the COVID-19 lockdown, mental health issues have seen a significant increase. With people much more isolated than before it is so important that we look out for those who aren’t coping as well as others. As a mental health charity, the Charlie Waller Trust regarded one of the UK’s most respected mental health charities, does some incredible work towards supporting children and young adults through any struggles they may be facing due to mental health issues.
In 2019 alone the Charlie Waller Trust delivered 729 sessions to 43,197 teachers, parents and pupils, ensuring that young people are supported as well as providing better knowledge to those who can best lookout for them in day-to-day life. Therefore, it was a delight to be presented with the opportunity to interview Clare Stafford, the organisation’s Chief Executive, allowing the Hullfire an insight into the work that goes behind the Trust. I’ve asked Clare what it means to those involved including the many volunteers and trainers that make the charity so special, as well as how you can get involved yourself and do your part to aid such an important cause.
Clare Stafford, Chief Executive
Clare has worked as a senior manager in mental health for over 25 years and is extremely passionate about helping people. She was delighted to take up the post of Chief Executive at the Charlie Waller Trust in 2014 and has instilled monumental change to the Trust’ activities and social impact ever since.
What goals do you hope to achieve regarding the recently launched Every Mind Matters campaign?
- This was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of some of the charities that are available to support students and parents alike dealing with mental health difficulties, and how to support one another. The Charlie Waller Trust is one of the UK’s most respected mental health charities and we wanted to let people know about the resources available for parents on our website https://charliewaller.org/. As many of our expert trainers have first-hand experiences of caring for a child with mental health issues, we have expert advice, training and resources for other people who are struggling.
What are your future plans for the Trust?
- Launching the Workplace Programme – Work is crucial to good mental health as long as your workplace supports good mental health and wellbeing. We are aiming to expand our work with employers in order to generate income that will be used in our other programmes to create a mentally healthy workforce of the future.
What support do you offer for students at University?
- We have a host of tips and resources for students on the Charlie Waller website: charliewaller.org, and have a great ‘Starting University’ resource for young people about to start their degrees, providing useful advice and information on topics like meeting new people, living independently and how to practise self-care.
What advice would you give to students as they begin their first year of University, simultaneously dealing with moving away from home and potential lockdowns?
- Starting university is already a huge life change and with the additional difficulties and uncertainties caused by local lockdowns, we believe it’s extremely important for students to prioritise their mental health. Taking time to practise mindfulness can help reduce stress levels and simple practices such as breathing awareness and mindful activities can help keep students grounded at the moment, instead of worrying about the future.
- It is important that young people know when to ask for help and how to support friends who may be struggling in this extremely challenging period – topics we also offer advice on.
What kinds of resources are available to concerned parents?
- We aim to impart information to parents and carers based on our expertise through training sessions. We believe it’s important for parents to highlight to children that help-seeking is not a sign of weakness and that it is a sign of strength. Letting them know you don’t mind if they want to speak to someone else is a powerful indication of trust and that you will not dismiss their feelings.
- The Charlie Waller Trust has a guide for parents in supporting children with anxiety. The resource helps parents and carers identify what anxiety looks like and offers some practical ideas such as creating a happy box of physical, nostalgic objects, or building a feel-good music playlist or sensory checklist to offer a distraction from anxious feelings.
What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of working within the Charlie Waller Trust?
- It is always the people! I am incredibly lucky to work with so many passionate, knowledgeable, and committed team members, trainers, volunteers and trustees who all share the goal of improving mental health and wellbeing for children, young people and their families.
What can people do to get involved with the organisation?
- There are numerous ways that people can get involved with and support our organisation, from attending Charlie Waller events to becoming a corporate sponsor. We rely on supporters’ generous donations to continue our work and you can join the Friends of Charlie Waller by making regular contributions. We welcome volunteers to help at our events and promote our work on social media. Fundraising is another great way to show support and nominating Charlie Waller to be a company charity of the year will increase the number of great charity partners we already have.
Are there any upcoming fundraisers or volunteering opportunities for students who would like to contribute towards the charity?
- We are hosting a virtual Charlie Waller Trust carol service that anyone can enjoy from the comfort of their own home – ideal for students. We will be offering virtual tickets to the live-streamed service. Previous readers in the past have included Damien Lewis, Mary Berry and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Details for this event and ticket information will be released in due course on our website here.
For more information or resources, visit www.charliewaller.org
The Charlie Waller Trust is one of the UK’s most respected mental health charities.
Many thanks to Clare Stafford and the Charlie Waller Trust