• Anaïs Richmond

Happy Space | Voices of Change

Here at What Can We Do? we strive to promote a better and fairer world through civic engagement, and that is why we launched the Voices of Change guest blog series.

We want to amplify the voices of a variety of different charities, community groups and individuals from home and abroad. While highlighting how COVID-19 has impacted them, how kindness plays a role in what they do, how people can get involved to support them and what the ideal future looks like.

Our special guest today is Charlotte Ingle, Head of Marketing for Happy Space,

discussing her work during Covid-19 supporting young people manage their wellbeing.

Tell us about yourself – where do you work and what is your role?

I’m the Head of Marketing for Happy Space, a mental wellbeing charity (registered CIO) founded by students, for students.

Mental wellbeing and the ability to recognise anxiety, loneliness, sadness and any other suboptimal feeling is such an important part of life. Identifying feelings and realising that they are temporary and that there is choice in what to do next is part of learning to self-manage. Through our resources, our role is to assist young people in this process, helping them to ask and answer the question “why don’t I feel ok?” and supporting them to reach their own Happy Space.


How has COVID-19 affected the work Happy Space does?

With school closures and students having to learn from home, COVID-19 has made it harder for us to reach schools and their students. However, we believe it has only made our goal of supporting student wellbeing even more crucial.

COVID-19 is a trauma that has entered everyone’s lives, but each family and family member’s experience will vary; no one is exempt from some fallout from the pandemic. The past few months have been an incredibly turbulent time for students, with schools and universities closing, new experiences of learning-from-home and having to spend a lot more time alone. Many young people have found adapting to this change extremely stressful, with new feelings of anxiety and loneliness to manage.



With schools slowly reopening, new classroom layouts, ways of learning and reintegration with school friends will require yet another adjustment for young people. This ‘new normal’ will create new stresses and anxieties for many students. Children will need help processing what has been happening and what might still happen. Assisting schools in supporting the wellbeing of their students, and students in recognising and managing their own feelings, is perhaps now more important for us than ever.


What activities have Happy Space been undertaking since the start of COVID-19?

We’ve been trying to provide as many young people as possible with our wellbeing resources during COVID-19. Throughout the crisis we have run our #HappySpaceAtHome campaign, offering free copies of our wellbeing resources to all families and young people across the UK. We’re enormously proud to have supplied over 159 families with our resources so far.

We also recently received a grant from One Young World’s COVID Young Leaders Fund, partnering with their incredible organisation to supply 35 schools across the UK with our wellbeing toolkits and lesson plans within the past month. We are delighted to have partnered with One Young World for this project, as it has ensured that there are resources in place to support 2569 students and their mental wellbeing when they return to school this year.

Tell us about the role of kindness in your work.

Kindness is at the centre of the work Happy Space does. We see kindness every day in the generosity of the public, organisations and friends and family donating to the work we do, supporting us in helping to empower the minds of a future generation.

Kindness is also at the core of what we teach young people through our wellbeing toolkits, talks and resources; it is so important not only to be kind to each other, but also to yourself. You should treat yourself as you would a friend; being kind to yourself and your own feelings should always be a priority and is crucial to managing your own mental wellbeing, at any age.

Although the last few months have been a difficult time for everyone, we’ve also seen an incredible amount of kindness blossom out of the darkness. During Mental Health Awareness Week in May, we ran our #HappySpaceActsOfKindness campaign, encouraging the public to carry out an ‘acts of kindness’ (big or small) to spread some much-needed kindness during this difficult time. We could not have been more uplifted and touched by the kindness so many people showed towards their friends, family, neighbours and strangers. Whether it was someone taking their mum a cup of tea in bed or donating to a charity close to their hearts – it was incredible to see.


How can people help / get involved with what Happy Space is doing during COVID-19?

If you wish to donate or find out more about the work we do, you can visit the Happy Space website. You can also keep updated on the work we are doing on our Instagram and Facebook.

If you would like a free copy of our resources for yourself, your family or someone else, or are a teacher who feels our resources could be valuable for your students, please do contact us at happyspacecharity@gmail.com – we’d love to help.

What does the ideal future look like for you? What would Happy Space like to see come out of this crisis?

Coming out of this crisis, we’d like to see greater attention, support and time dedicated to the wellbeing of young people.

We’d love to see schools creating space in their curriculums to focus on mental wellbeing; whether that’s dedicating more time for students to do art, which is proven to help young people manage their anxieties, assigning a ‘Happy Space Hour’ once a week to run through exercises that children can do to self-manage their feelings, or simply letting students know that it’s ok not to be ok.

Teachers have done a brilliant job during lockdown in terms of both educational and emotional support for students, and we really do applaud them for their work. We’d love to work with more and more teachers coming out of this, to provide them with our lesson plans and their students with our toolkits – hopefully making a real change when it comes to conversations and policies surrounding student wellbeing going forward.


Charlotte Ingle

Charlotte Ingle

Head of Marketing for Happy Space

www.happyspace.org.uk

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Have some more time to give? Find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at our website for more inspiration.

Do you want to be our next guest blogger for our Voices of Change blog series or want to write for our Spotlight series? Then please get in touch.

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