Burton Latimer teenager to meet Prime Minister

Chantelle, far right, with Gen Nick Carter.
Chantelle, far right, with Gen Nick Carter.

A teenage volunteer from Burton Latimer will meet Theresa May today (Thursday) after benefitting from a scheme with the National Citizen Service (NCS).

Chantelle Rowe, 18, recently volunteered at the Passchendaele commemorations.

Today, Mrs May will announce a new youth initiative to improve mental health and will meet teenagers who have worked on NCS schemes, including Chantelle.

Chantelle said: “Through NCS, I have taken part in many once in a lifetime opportunities that have helped me to change as an individual.

“After having completed the initial programme, I gained huge amounts of confidence which helped me to realise that life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone.

“And as a result I have taken on many opportunities that I never thought were possible for me and this has helped me in my wider life with applications to university and within my part-time job.

“I have seen some friends struggle with their mental health and I have been there for them and made sure that they always knew that I would be around for them whenever and wherever they needed me.”

The new scheme aims to raise awareness of mental health among young people and improve their knowledge of how to get help.

It will be developed with mental health experts and NCS graduates and be delivered as part of the organisation’s programme to prepare young people for the challenges of adult life and work.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Mental health issues can have a devastating effect on young lives and that’s why making sure young people are fully supported both inside and outside of the classroom is a key priority for me.

“It is not only the pressures of school and exams, though that is in the front of our minds today, but also self-esteem issues, struggles with home life or friendships, and getting into university or finding a job that can all affect mental well-being.

“We know that early intervention, along with giving young people the confidence to access support, is key - that’s where NCS plays such a vital role.

“NCS helps young people forge friendships across social divides and enhance their confidence and self-esteem.

“This excellent enhancement to the NCS programme will build on the work we are already doing in schools and ensure young people get the knowledge and help they need.”

The package of measures delivered by NCS will include:

- A dedicated mental health awareness course for teenagers talking part in NCS

- New mental health training for more than 10,000 frontline NCS staff to improve support to young people

- A new network of young NCS graduates to champion mental health awareness

Michael Lynas, chief executive of NCS, said: “NCS brings young people from all backgrounds together for a shared experience that changes their lives for good.

“By experiencing the great outdoors, building new friendships and serving their community these young people not only build important skills for life and work, they also improve their health and well-being.

“As our country’s flagship programme for 16-year-olds, we know just how important the issue of mental health is to this age group and we hope this initiative will help the next generation to live healthier and happier lives.”