The Devon teenagers changing the way young people think and talk about mental health are reflecting on the spark they have made across the UK this World Mental Health Day (10 October). After spearheading a change in mental health in the school curriculum, Spark UK, are today announcing the launch of their 2023 celebrity All-Star Advent Calendar, at Exeter Cathedral.
Spark UK are on a mission to change the future of mental health for young people by encouraging them to spark conversations and getting youngsters comfortable with the uncomfortable. Their incredible work has even captured the attention of The Royal Family, who earlier in the year awarded them Coronation Champions for His Majesty The King’s Coronation, BBC’s The One Show, where they appeared earlier this year, and a whole host of famous faces who are supporting their online mental health campaign.
The team, from Ilfracombe, are now preparing to take over Exeter Cathedral on Friday 1st December for an action packed morning where they will launch their All Star Advent Calendar in a live event, revealing the first celebrity, as CEO, Conor Warren explains.
“We are so excited to be bringing the launch of the All-Star Advent Calendar to Exeter Cathedral. In partnership with Teacher’s Rock, the morning will feature school choirs from across the county as well as performances and talks from a host of inspirational people. The event will be livestreamed for free to schools across the country, as well as a live audience of students in the cathedral.
“After the success of last year’s All-Star calendar, we are delighted to be announcing that 2023’s campaign will be bigger and better. Over the past year we have been overwhelmed with the interest and support we have received. We are passionate about changing the way young people view mental health and we are committed to help ‘spark’ conversations, remove the taboo that is often associated with talking about personal struggles, thoughts and feelings, and increase education around this topic. Therefore, we are thrilled that so many celebrities are helping us to share their messages through our All-Star Advent Calendar and can’t wait to share these famous faces with everyone!’
From 1 December, behind each door of the free online calendar will be some of the UK’s favourite celebrities sharing inspiring messages and encouragement, sharing their mental health experiences and gifting positivity in what can sometimes be a difficult time as the countdown to Christmas begins. Previous celebrities have included Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Fearne Cotton and Emma Thompson, The calendar will be raising funds for mental health charities Beyond and Place2Be.
In a joint statement Lousia Rose, CEO of Beyond and Jonny Benjamin MBE, Founder of Beyond, Author, Public Speaker and Filmmaker, said "Beyond believes that every young person has the right to receive the most effective mental health support at the right time. We are working to make this a reality through our ecosystem of barrier free mental health
education; promoting local services and; financially assisting the most vulnerable students to access those provisions. The dedication of Conor and the Spark UK team to improving mental health literacy amongst young people is inspiring and it's been an absolute pleasure to work with them over the last couple of years. To be one of their charity partners for the All-Star Advent campaign is a real privilege and honour."
Spark UK are also collaborating with ootiboo on a national AllStar creative competition to help raise awareness for the calendar as well as a chance for individuals and families to have fun and get creative.
Angus Cameron, Creative Director at ootiboo, added, “At ootiboo, we believe embracing creativity in childhood helps to build the foundations for robust mental health later in life. The process of exploring creativity naturally takes us into mindfulness, helps focus our thoughts and challenges us to learn and keep going. Collaborating with Spark UK on the All-Star Advent has been a wonderful experience; it's a fantastic combination of creativity coupled with practical tips and tricks to help people through what can be a difficult time, and we're honoured to be part of it.”
Spark UK was formed in 2020 by school friends, Conor Waren, Bridie Downing, Joseph Carter and Tegan Phillips with support from Blue Elephant Childcare. After regularly meeting to rant about poor mental health support in schools, the teenagers decided to do something about it. In their aim to spark conversations in young people around mental health they have created student resources and lessons plans that are being used by over 300 schools across England and have recently become a Community Interest Company and welcomed new members Kaia Bond and Noah Mcnamara.
Notes to Editors:
Spark UK is an award-winning mental health organisation run by young people for young people. Their aim is to ‘Spark the conversation around mental health’ by creating a range of resources, lessons and campaigns for approximately 300 schools across the UK. Run entirely by teenagers, the organisation aims to spark important conversations around wellbeing and mental health in a relatable, informative and engaging way.
Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity with over 25 years’ experience working with pupils, families and staff in UK schools. They provide mental health support in schools through one-to-one and group counselling using tried and tested methods backed by research. In addition, they also offer expert training and professional qualifications.
For more information, head to place2be.org.uk
Beyond enable access to high quality mental health support for young people both in and out of school, increase awareness of services and support available, and give a voice and platform to young people with lived experience of the challenges of mental health. Beyond is powered by an impassioned youth board that is determined to instil new attitudes. They are the heart and soul of the charity – the idea generators, campaign drivers and future changemakers.
For more information, head to wearebeyond.org.uk