Press release: Brushing away Blue Monday blues with mental health positivity

For immediate release – 17th January 2022

Blue Monday is marked in the calendar as the most gloomiest day of the year and South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) wanted to share how funding of community groups focusing on mental health has resulted in positive changes in the lives of young people across the region.

Since its launch in 2017, the Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Fund has distributed over £63,000 to community groups across South Yorkshire to support young people between the ages of 10-26 with their mental health.

Doncaster Housing For Young People (DHYP), alongside their service of helping young people at risk of homelessness or vulnerably housed, have delivered one-to-one and group counselling sessions.

One of the attendees was Leah Schofield. She is currently in her first year studying Counselling and Psychology at the University of Huddersfield, after seeking support from DHYP when she showed self-harming behaviour and suicide attempts.

“During my counselling, I hit rock bottom multiple times but every week – without fail – I got the opportunity to talk to Stephanie Hobson (Project Worker) and her example made me want to become a counsellor,” said Leah.

Through wellbeing walks, meditation and exercise, Leah was able to start her academic journey by completing a one year access course in counselling at Doncaster College, before beginning her university course in 2021.

Stuart Shore, Chief Executive at DHYP, said: “The funding by South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation, through the Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Fund, has had a particularly profound impact. The individual beneficiaries have benefitted in terms of their own mental health and wellbeing, but the grant has also provided us with valuable learning and experience which will continue to benefit the community.”

SYCF’s Vital Signs 2021 report, using a combination of local knowledge and official research data to measure the vitality of a community, identified Mental Health as one of the key priorities across South Yorkshire. The community survey showed 55% of respondents saying the situation of mental health in the community is not good.

South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation Head of Philanthropy, Michelle Dickinson, said: “During a visit to DHYP before Christmas, it was clear to see the impact of the work they are doing, with staff fully connected to the needs and support they provide for young people.”

Linda and David Hurst, having experienced the devastation of losing their daughter Molly, to suicide in 2017, worked with SYCF to launch this fund and allow community groups to access funding on issues surrounding young people’s mental health.

They said: “The pandemic has highlighted ever more the importance of mental health, especially with our young people in South Yorkshire. Leah’s story is inspiring and shows a template of how talking to someone can make a real difference.”

Leah, having benefitted from the support received from DHYP and her project worker Stephanie, is keen to do the same for other people after completing her studies.

“If there are young people in South Yorkshire on this Blue Monday struggling with their mental health, I really would encourage them to talk to someone like I did as it can really lead to long-lasting changes,” said Leah.

Notes to Editors:

  • South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation helps to support and build strong resilient communities across the region. It provides community groups with grant funding through its many donors, to help people facing hardship and disadvantage alongside those working to improve the communities they live in. SYCF connects people, who care about South Yorkshire and want to invest in supporting the Foundation to build stronger and healthier communities. Over the last 35 years South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation has awarded more than £31 million in community grants. www.sycf.org.uk
  • The Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Fund: If you would like to donate to the Fund, you can do so via the Just Giving page or contact the SYCF Team at https://www.sycf.org.uk/contact-us/

Press contact

Akhlaq Hanif

South Yorkshire Community Foundation Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Tel: 0114 261 5145

Email: ahanif@sycf.org.uk


Hear Leah’s interview with BBC Radio Sheffield, on 18th January, speaking to Howie Pressman about her mental health issues, support from Doncaster Housing For Young People, her studying to become a counsellor