Latest News

UFA builds resilience in Derbyshire young people

Lula Garner, Head of Programmes (Midlands), UFA National Education Team. 7 February 2019

“I have met many people along my journey and some have become close friends too. It has also helped me learn about myself and how I respond to others, in different situations that have been challenging for me. I have learnt to overcome problems and help other people in school”

– Student & Brilliant Erewash Champion

Last year, UFA partnered Art of Brilliance (AOB) in ‘Brilliant Erewash’, a programme commissioned by the NHS & public health to improve outcomes and wellbeing in an area of Derbyshire that has significant health inequality around issues such as smoking, obesity, alcohol.

It was recognised that the community needed to come together and build resilience, and that one way was to begin in the younger generation.

AOB went into schools to deliver workshops for staff and Year 7 students, using insights from positive psychology with three core messages: choosing to be positive and take positive action, taking responsibility for yourself and your life and being resilient (or ‘bounceback-ability’ as they called it for the kids!)

UFA was then asked to take a smaller group of ‘Champions’ forward – young people who had volunteered to spread the message in their school. We picked up AOB’s core messages and put together a training programme from our experience of what schools need to effectively coach young people.

“Lula’s team were fantastic, they made it engaging and gave us as many resources as they could. We’ve got eight new champions this year! We’re trying to keep the momentum going; we’re doing another Mental Health Day, where our department is talking about Brilliant Erewash and the older ‘Champions’ can tell the younger students how it has helped them.

– Sue Briggs, Information Centre manager, Wilsthorpe Community School

Where we could, we tried to get some of the harder to reach young people involved - those who might really benefit from the opportunity to lead, but don’t consider themselves leaders.

There have been some great successes: one young man who was at a specialist school had no eye contact at first, wouldn’t speak but the deputy head there thought he had potential and wanted to encourage him. I don’t know what his diagnosis is, because part of what UFA offer is ‘a clean sheet’, so young people can be who they want to be now, when they’re in that room with us.

Lula working with young people at the UFA training workshops

He was one of the young who people came to the mainstream conference; it was about 50 young people and various adults so a huge challenge for students to come from a small, special school environment and mix with everybody. We literally saw them grow through the day, it was wonderful to see. By the end, they were there, presenting their project in their workshop groups like everybody else.

When I went back at the end of the year to do my evaluation this young man had been voted on to the council youth forum and was going into other schools and speaking about what he was doing. That’s why I do the job to be honest!

“It helped me gain confidence and to be more positive about life. I learnt to speak up in group discussions and I have definitely gained more social skills”

– Wilsthorpe student & Brilliant Erewash Champion

UFA is part of P3 Charity group. To find out more, go to: