Putting children’s wellbeing first: Inside Out

Karen Neville

Mental Health

Inside Out is an education charity based in Reading focussed on improving children’s wellbeing.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing have never been so high on the school agenda. Teachers have never been under so much pressure, managing daily change.

To help teachers and parents with the current, flexible approach to schooling, they have developed a ‘Wellbeing Guide’ based on their 5 Keys to Happiness, the equivalent of 5 fruit and veg a day for your mental health.

This is a free resource for schools, teachers and families packed with inspiration and activities to boost children’s happiness and wellbeing. These resources will now help ease the long-awaited transition back to school.

There is a wealth of information and resources out there but it’s often confusing and hard to know where to start. The Wellbeing Guides are full of activities that are simple, fun and quick-to-use, at home or school.

The Guide offers fun, simple ideas and resources for children, whether they are currently being educated at home or in school with a new edition shared each week during lockdown. Please see attached pdf of the latest edition, which includes a 5 Keys to Happiness poster for parents to print out and use at home.

For more wellbeing inspiration, why not follow INSIDE OUT on Facebook and twitter or visit their website www.theinsideout.org.uk for all previous issues of the Wellbeing Guide.

Read about pop icon Billy Ocean and the Young Voices Choir’s charity single to help children’s mental health here.

Billy Ocean & the Young Voices

Liz Nicholls

Mental Health

Billy wishes you a Lovely Day with charity single to help children’s mental health

Pop icon & beacon of positivity Billy Ocean, who lives in Berkshire, has teamed up with the Young Voices Choir to release a new and uplifting recording of the Bill Withers’ classic, Lovely Day.

Also featured on the track are award-winning broadcaster and musician YolanDa Brown (saxophone) and The Voice UK 2018 winner (and former Young Voices singer) Ruti Olajugbagbe. Released on January 26th by Magic Star (the home of children’s and family entertainment at Sony Music UK), all UK profits will go to children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

“We have all been affected in different ways over this difficult last year,” says Billy MBE, “and many children have really struggled. I’m so happy to be able to join with Young Voices to help make a difference and to raise funds for children’s mental health with this wonderful and hopeful song.”

Profits from the single Lovely Day will go to the Place2Be charity which launched the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015. Place2Be’s school-based teams estimate that 85% of the young people they support have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and have seen an increase in referrals around self-harm and suicidal thoughts in secondary schools. 1 in 6 children and young people have a probable mental health condition (Source: NHS Digital)

Ben Lewis, CEO of Young Voices, says: “With school life currently disrupted, this highlights the need, more than ever, to support children’s mental health.”

Young Voices is an all-inclusive educational programme designed to use music to develop 21st-century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, mindfulness, and innovation. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year Young Voices have staged the largest children’s choir concerts in the world. In 2020 alone, Young Voices headlined 24 arenas across the UK, including a record breaking concert at Manchester Arena, overtaking Take That’s previous record of 46 shows.

This summer Young Voices will attempt to break their own Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Simultaneous Sing-Along’, currently standing at 293,978 – a record set when the ‘Big Sing 2005’ was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. Streamed live from The O2 arena, Bily Ocean, Yolanda Brown and Ruti and Young Voices will join children, their teachers and families throughout the UK to sing ‘Lovely Day’. Involvement can be registered at: youngvoices.co.uk/biggest-sing/

Show your support and buy the single and share with us if Place2Be have helped you or someone you know

Rock Choir fundraiser

Round & About

Mental Health

Rock Choir, the largest contemporary choir in the UK with 32,000 members, is supporting Mental Health Awareness Week (18-25th May) by hosting #RockChoir24.

The 24-hour non-stop fundraising event is running via their Facebook page from 11am on Tuesday, 19th May to 11am the following day.

All day and night, the Rock Choir team will host an energetic schedule of dynamic singing sessions, themed musical events, songs from the decades and social musical events as well as sessions aimed at teenagers and younger children so the whole family can join in the virtual music Rock Choir Festival from the comfort of their own home.

As well as the live and pre-recorded footage, there will be video messages from Key Worker Rock Choir members who will share their stories with us from the front line in response to the pandemic. Also highlighted will be stories of inspirational acts of kindness from across the UK to reinforce the theme of ‘kindness’ which Mental Health Awareness Week has adopted for this year in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rock Choir has also been receiving video messages from their celebrity friends and fans including Jess Glynne, Michael Ball and Sir Cliff Richard to name a few. Each has sent messages of kindness, encouragement and support for Rock Choir’s fundraising mission and Mental Health Awareness Week. These messages will also be shown throughout the 24 hour period.

Founder, creator and creative director of Rock Choir Caroline Redman Lusher will host the event. She said she was proud they were continuing to sing and help through the crisis, adding: “Rock Choir has been looking after the well-being of the British public for 15 years now and I knew that we would need to ensure that we continued to support not only our Rock Choir Members but also the needs of the public as lockdown continued and anxiety, stress and difficulties developed through this time.

“Our 24-hour Rock Choir National fundraiser on 19th May will not only bring back to back music, singing and entertainment to everyone but will also lift spirits and engage everyone with feel-good and uplifting music.

“Most importantly, it will help raise awareness of and much needed funds for the Mental Health Foundation who host the national annual Mental Health Awareness Week.

“I hope everyone will not only support our 24-hour Rock Choir Fundraiser but also become more aware of how every single person in the country and beyond will be trying to manage their own mental well-being through the pandemic and what they can each do to be kind to themselves and to one another.”

Mark Rowland, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation said he was delighted to have Rock Choir’s support and that he would be joining in.

He said: “By bringing people together and raising funds, The Rock Choir is not only an expression of kindness but one that uses singing which is also great for our mental health. I can’t wait to take part.”

Everyone can get involved in this fun event and donations can be made via the Facebook Donate option on Rock Choir’s Facebook page as well as a TEXT option which can be made by texting SING5 to donate £5 or SING10 to donate £10 to 70500.

Head to their Facebook page

Mental health day

Round & About

Mental Health

Look after your emotional well-being and you’ll be looking after your mental health.

That’s the message from the Samaritans today (Thursday, 10th October), World Mental Health Day.

This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) has chosen the theme suicide prevention. Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life. The organisation is encouraging people to prepare to take “40 seconds of action” to help: improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

“Put simply, this is an opportunity to show you care,” said Chris Lindsay, director of Samaritans of Bracknell, Wokingham, Ascot & Districts. “Talking, rather than bottling things up, helps but sometimes, when we are worried about someone, we are not sure how to start the conversation,”

The website Samaritans.org offers “SHUSH” tips on how to be a good listener.

“We would like to get the message across that Samaritans can help people acquire the skills to look after their emotional health and look out for others, before they reach crisis point,” said Chris.

Samaritans offers free resources for schools and colleges to incorporate into their emotional health programmes.

The charity also offers Wellbeing in the Workplace. This is an online learning programme which brings Samaritans’ listening and wellbeing expertise into the workplace.

“It’s okay if you’re not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what’s on their mind. When people feel listened to, it can save a life,” said Chris.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every day of the year. The charity provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Call 116 123 (free to call) (UK), email , or visit www.samaritans.org for further details.

YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, is encouraging people to say #HelloYellow today and help raise funds for YoungMinds.

Whether you choose to go for a subtle splash of colour or really turn up the sunshine with head to toe yellow, join in to show young people they’re not alone with their mental health.

Find out more

Bollywood bliss

Round & About

Mental Health

Shalini Bhalla, a well-known Cranleigh resident and director of local Bollywood dance-fitness company Just Jhoom!, has just published a revealingly honest book about her mental health and relationship with late husband Jeremy Lucas.

Shalini dancing Indian classical style
Shalini dancing Indian classical style

Shalini Bhalla, finds solace in traditional Indian dancing and focusing on mindful practice, as a coping mechanism when life gets tough and her mental health suffers. She says: “I used dance, mindfulness and meditation, nutrition and healing to bring (and keep) my mind, body and spirit into alignment.”

She founded Just Jhoom! based upon the joy principal and engaging others in the fun of Bollywood style dancing. Shalini is also an accredited mindfulness teacher and developed an online four-week introductory course into mindful practice -Mindfulness for Beginners.

She feels that this training in mind, body and spirit helped her cope and deal with the impact of losing her husband Jeremy Lucas in 2016, due to cancer. Dancing and focusing didn’t lessen the grief, just helped her to cope, and Shalini took to writing about her feelings in a self-published book, Always With You.

Shalini's lifeThis book is about Shalini’s personal battles with mental illness, the coping strategies she relied upon to regain a positive mental state after severe depression and the loss of Jeremy to cancer. In this emotive memoir, Shalini writes about her experiences of depression, attempted suicide as well as family estrangement, and struggles with religion and national identity.

Shalini wrote the book so she could share her story with others, offering an inspiring message of recovery and renewal as she looks to face the future with strength, hope and anticipation.

Shalini’s positive message has led her to be chosen as a “Voice of MIND” – campaigning for better mental health provision in the UK. She has spoken in the Houses of Parliament to MPs about wellbeing and mental health resilience.

Shalini has lived in Cranleigh for 18 years and been involved in village life, with Just Jhoom! and Mindfulness classes, over that time. Her late husband had lived in the area all his life and his untimely passing, aged 59, left a gaping hole in the community.

Jeremy and Shalini in Samburu
Jeremy and Shalini in Samburu

The pair also had a shared love of Kenya and its people, culture and wildlife, Shalini established an education fund: The Jeremy Lucas Education Fund, initiated in 2017, it has raised just over £42,000 and is sponsoring 12 children to attend secondary and tertiary education in Kenya.

Always With You is available on Shalini Bhalla website www.justjhoom.co.uk or Amazon.