"Take a minute, change a life": a podcast for World Suicide Prevention Day 2017


Listen below

This Sunday, 10th September, is World Suicide Prevention Day. To mark HeadStart's support, we have recorded a podcast bringing together the thoughts of a panel made up of a national expert in child mental health, and a group of young people who work for HeadStart as apprentices or as with us as part of our HeadStart Ambassador programme. The members of the panel were:

  • Dr. Pooky Knightsmith. Pooky directs the children, young people and schools programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, a charity that provides fully-funded mental health training to schools. She is also the vice-chair and education lead for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, formed of over 100 UK charities working together to set the agenda for young people’s mental health in the UK and beyond. Pooky is also a keynote speaker at our HeadStart Conference on October 3rd. (We spoke to Pooky over Skype, so apologies if the audio quality is not ideal). You can follow Pooky on Twitter at @PookyH.
  • Amelia Chalak, HeadStart Apprentice
  • Emerson Morris, HeadStart Apprentice
  • Megan, one of our HeadStart Ambassadors

In the podcast, our panel discuss a range of issues related to how adults and organisations can support young people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or at risk of doing so:

  • What kinds of factors do you think leads young people to the point where suicide feels like an option?
  • How should schools and other organisations talk to young people about suicide as an issue?
  • How can young people support one another? What warning signs might they see in friends?
  • What could schools or other organisations do to support young people who are depressed, or at risk of suicide?
  • What role do you think technology (including social media) can play, both positive and negative?

We hope that you find the podcast to be a valuable contribution to this critical issue. Suicide is the second most common cause of death for 15-19 year olds in the UK; we must do everything we can to support young people who are at risk.

Please share the podcast on social media, and join the conversation by submitting comments below. You can subscribe to future episodes of the HeadStart podcast on iTunes or in your favourite podcast app using this RSS link.

Show notes / links:


'My life with Joshua, and what he can teach us all' - in conversation with Alison Cope

Alison Cope was, and always will be, the proud mum of Joshua Ribera. In 2013, Josh's musical career as grime artist Depzman had just taken off, with a number one album, and tours of the UK and Europe. In September that year he was murdered in a knife attack outside a night club in Birmingham. He was only 18 years old.

Alison now works alongside West Midlands police, and independently, to talk to young people in schools, community organisations and youth offending institutions about the dangers of carrying knives. Her strength in turning the most tragic event any parent can imagine into positive change for other young people is an inspiration to us all.

Alison was kind enough to come across to Wolverhampton yesterday for a recorded conversation about her life with Josh, her work with young people, and her thoughts about how we can support young people to rethink an attitude and culture around carrying knives that has led to a 14% increase in knife crimes between 2015 and 2016.

Please listen to the conversation using the player at the top of the page and share it with anyone you think would benefit from hearing Alison's thoughts and opinions. Comment below if you'd like to reflect or feedback with your thoughts.

Alison is a workshop lead at our HeadStart Conference on October 3rd. Find our more and register for free tickets at www.headstartonline.co.uk/conference17 - tickets are going quickly, so don't delay!

Make my mum proud and my dad too
Gotta stay on the straight and narrow
Cause one day I’m gonna be a dad too
One love to all my family
Can’t forget my grandad too
Been supporting me from the start
— 'One Love' by Depzman

Show links

In conversation with Claire Birkenshaw

Earlier this week, I recorded an in-depth conversation over FaceTime with Claire Birkenshaw. Claire is recognised by the TES as the first Headteacher in the UK to transition gender while in post, and now works as an Equalities and Diversity Consultant with schools and other organisations nationwide. She is also one of the workshop leads for our forthcoming HeadStart Conference on Oct. 3rd, where she'll be leading a workshop on "Nurturing belonging cultures to support young trans and non-binary people".

In our wide-ranging conversation we explored and discussed topics and themes including:

  • Claire's story from childhood to her adult decision to transition. We discuss the role of popular culture, and the reactions, both positive and negative, from friends, family and colleagues to her decision to transition.
  • The role of the internet in both supporting, but potentially endangering, transgender youngsters
  • How schools can support trans and gay youngsters in creating cultures, policies and processes that nurture and protect them; 'belonging' as an overarching principle in supporting transgender youngsters
  • The importance of appropriate language, including the use of pronouns, when talking to transgender youngsters.
  • Claire's thoughts on the current status of transgender people in the UK and internationally
I recognise that I hold a relatively unique position within society, as there are visibly very few trans teachers and even fewer trans school leaders. I am hoping that through my visibility and experience of transition coupled with my knowledge and links across the education community that I will be able to help make that difference for our young trans and non-binary people.
— Claire Birkenshaw

You can listen to or download a podcast of the conversation using the player at the top of the page.

Huge thanks to Claire for talking to me. We hope that you find the conversation as engaging to listen to as we found it to record! Please leave any comments using the comment form at the bottom of this post; we'd love to hear from you.

Show notes and links

Don't forget to book your free tickets for the HeadStart Wolverhampton Conference on October 3rd, where Claire is leading a workshop titled "Nurturing belonging cultures to support young trans and non-binary people". It's going to be great event - we'd love to see you there:


You can subscribe to future HeadStart podcasts on iTunes or in your favourite podcast player (use this link).

Follow HeadStart Wolverhampton on all the social networks - details of our accounts at headstartonline.co.uk/social.


4YP Radio - Colton Hills reflect on Getting Ahead Residential

Two weeks ago, Tara from the HeadStart Young Person Engagement Team (HYPE), met with a group of young people from Year 7 at Colton Hills Community School to reflect upon their experiences of their recent HeadStart Getting Ahead Residential at the Towers Outdoor Centre in Snowdonia.

Here is what they had to say about their experiences in Wales, and the effect that the residential has had upon them:

A great listen, and a good illustration of the positive effects that Getting Ahead is having on the confidence and self-esteem of the young people who are involved.

In conversation with Dr. Pooky Knightsmith and Kevin Pace

Yesterday morning, I was delighted to spend time with Dr. Pooky Knightsmith. Pooky directs the children, young people and schools programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, a charity that provides fully-funded mental health training to schools. She is also the vice-chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, the author of a number of highly regarded books, and a regular columnist for SecEd magazine. You can find out more about Pooky’s wonderful work, and listen to her podcast, on her website at www.inourhands.com

Pooky leading the breakfast seminar

Pooky leading the breakfast seminar

Pooky was in Wolverhampton leading a breakfast seminar for Hays Education at Our Lady and St. Chad Catholic Academy, and I took the opportunity to record a 30 minute interview / conversation with her, and with Kevin Pace, the Service Director for HeadStart Wolverhampton.

Topics included Pooky’s decision to be so open about her own mental health challenges, working with schools and colleges to create a positive ethos for mental well-being, Sumo as a toolkit for supporting resilience, increasing acceptance for mental health issues, and the problems with diagnosing mental health ‘issues’ in Donald Trump from afar! We also discussed exciting future working with Pooky for HeadStart Wolverhampton!

Huge thanks to Pooky for spending the time with us to record the show; we hope that you find it an interesting and informative listen.

Don't forget that if you liked this episode, you can subscribe to future episodes of the HeadStart Podcast on iTunes, or by searching in your favourite podcast client for 'HeadStart Wolverhampton'