Blackpool community group improves mental health care for children

Twelve-year-old Michelle Marks with Zoe Roscoe from the CASHER team at the group

CHILDREN in Blackpool can now access mental health services in a safe environment away from the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital thanks to a number of dedicated professionals coming together to offer weekly groups in the community.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s CASHER team and Blackpool Boys and Girls Club (B&GC) are working in partnership to give young people the opportunity to talk to a mental health care professional while also offering the chance to go to a youth club.

Zoe Roscoe, Assistant Psychologist and member of the CASHER team, runs the 10 week programme, the ‘Reach Out’ group at Talbot and Brunswick Children’s Centre.

She said: “The group’s name stands for Respect Encourage Achieve Connect Hope Opportunity Understanding Together and the name was made by one of our first members.

“Just under 100 young people have attended the group with around 20 graduating the full 10 week course.

“The group has grown from being a weekly drop-in to a structured ‘psychoeducation programme’ and this has helped us identify areas of need such as misconceptions of mental health, relationships, bullying, stress, emotions, coping strategies and self- harm.

“We tailor to young people’s needs whilst being fun, relaxed and creative. We start with an empty shoebox and each week they add to their box to fill a ‘coping box’ by the end of the 10 weeks. We use aids like stress balls, dream catchers, positive quotes, worry dolls and soothing blankets.

“The group has been a bigger success than I would’ve imagined. The support from wider services like Families in Need and B&GC has helped break down the stigma attached to accessing mental health support.

“Bringing our knowledge, expertise and resources together has been the key to supporting children who may not already be known to services.

“The partnership has been exceptionally helpful when reintegrating young people back into the community who have been isolated and debilitated by their mental health difficulties.

“Young people have the option to join the youth group to interact with others but know they can pop over to the CASHER group if they want some individual support.

“The group is growing organically and I’m excited to see what the next 12 months bring.”

The group runs every Tuesday, 6-8pm at Talbot and Brunswick Children’s Centre on Gorton Street. Please contact the CASHER team: for more information.

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