A teenager who was bullied at school has defied his tormentors to win a prestigious award from the largest and oldest youth charity in the world.
Charlie, who now goes to Francis Combe Academy in Garston, had sticks and stones thrown at him and was told to go and kill himself. He even had a panic attack in class. Every time he tried to tell someone at school, they ignored it.
Under pressure, his mental health started to deteriorate and he was advised to visit YMCA.
Last month, he was named Young Achiever of the Year at YMCA England & Wales Youth Matters Awards
After attending the youth club and one-to-one mentoring sessions, Charlie began to take part in more activities and joined various community projects. He even took leadership of his own project, visiting local homes for the elderly where he would cook dinner, play bingo and socialise with residents.”
Charlie said YMCA has made a massive difference to his life.
He commented: “I don’t think I’d be standing here with a smile if it wasn’t for YMCA. There were times when I wished I was dead; the YMCA was there to change it.”
Charlie is now One YMCA’s first Mental Health Champion. Part of his role includes delivering youth programmes, workshops, and advocating for young people.
He has played a key role in delivering workshops and tailoring them to meet the needs of young people. Staff at One YMCA have hailed the impact he has had on young people.
Charlie said his ethos for helping the charity is simple – he doesn’t want what happened to him to happen to anyone else.
He commented: “When I was at school, I needed someone to talk straight away and I didn’t have that. I had no one to go and that made me really angry. I think if I’d had someone to talk to, the bullying would have stopped much quicker. I can’t change the past, but I can make an impact on the future, the future of my friends and the people I’ve met here.”
Mental Health Champions works with schools and youth clubs to help improve young people’s wellbeing and resilience.