We sit down with Heather Ellender from Innovating Minds CIC who tells us all about her role in Progress, her own personal role models and inspirations and what surprises her the most about young people.
Hi Heather! So, tell me a bit about your organisation…
Innovating Minds provides accessible, specialist psychological support for young people, to foster emotional well-being and resiliency. We work from an early intervention ethos and directly within the community and schools to promote emotional wellbeing and give support to those that cannot access it through national services. We work with young people to overcome the barriers that are getting in the way of accessing further education, training opportunities or employment.
What is your role in the Progress programme?
I provide individual and group therapy sessions for young people on the Progress programme, who are struggling with difficulties such as anxiety, stress, depression and low self-esteem. This is delivered through well-researched support and talking therapies. I provide young people with the opportunity to talk through issues that are important, and we will work on how these can be addressed, this includes addressing negative thought patterns and developing coping strategies.
Why do you think that this programme is important and what does it offer the young people enrolled on it?
This programme is one of a kind! It offers young people one-to-one, tailored and accessible support. Being part of a partnership allows young people to have access to a huge variety of leading youth organisations, employment charities, and specialist services, allowing young people to receive an individualised programme of support.
What surprises you the most about working with young people?
Each young person is on their own unique journey and where it’ll take you is always different and a surprise, that is part of the joy of my job. Every young person brings their own needs, skills, life experiences and expectations. There is more than a sense of achievement when you have supported and been witness to a young person’s development on the programme. You know that these young people would not have gained what they have gained in any other setting and no matter what the young person goes on to do in their lives, they will hopefully take something with them from this project that will benefit their future.
In your job, you must inspire a lot of the young people that you help. Who inspires you in life?
Stacey Dooley (BBC presenter and journalist) has always been a role model of mine, she focuses on many subjects, including mental health, drugs, and politics, raising awareness of issues around the world and providing a voice to those who are often not heard - which I believe is enormously important.
I additionally work for an inspiring and empowering female CEO, Dr. Asha Patel set up Innovating Minds two years ago with a vision to positively support and influence the systems orbiting young people with emotional and mental health needs, she inspires me daily to grow and be the best in my role supporting young people.
What would be your words of wisdom or encouragement to any young person who is considering joining Progress?
In the words and memory of Stephen Hawking, 'Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. However difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up'.
So I would say: don’t give up and reach for your goals. Progress programme provides the support and opportunities to help you achieve your aspirations!
Click here to read more about our Progress Partnership and the young people we work with on the programme.