There’s no shortage of places to go for help if you’re an adult, and with an increased awareness of mental health problems, these provisions are constantly increasing and improving.
But what about if you’re a child or a teenager? It simply isn’t as easy to find the help and support you might need. And let’s face it, young people nowadays have so much to deal with. From stresses at school, to problems on social media and from coping with relationships and friendships to managing the pressures of adolescence; being a teenager isn’t easy.
The idea of Safe House came off the back of a difficult conversation I had with a parent. They said to me, “my child is being bullied… they listen to you, perhaps you could do something to make kids more aware of the impact of their words.” I thought about that for a long time and that’s where the Safe House idea came from. After four years of working with hundreds of local children through MADhouse Theatre Company, I know that a lot of the children trust me and talk to me. I thought, “actually I can use that for the good”.
“young people nowadays have so much to deal with. From stresses at school, to problems on social media and from coping with relationships and friendships”
This is why I decided to set up the Safe House project. As always, the Morzine community didn’t disappoint and within minutes of sending an email asking for experts interested in working to build a charitable company aimed at providing pastoral care for children, I was inundated with messages from people with all sorts of different experiences and skills. This included Lara Williams, an expert in emotional intelligence, Ali Coldwell who worked for years with the Prince’s Trust and Cat Ing, a secondary school teacher with years of experience working in inner city schools. We also had wellness experts and artists come forward including Amy Bench, Jo O’Neill, Taela Maskell and Sylvie Walls. It was amazing to have such a diverse group of people involved. We held a number of meetings before coordinating a launch event to ask the children exactly what they wanted from a project like this. Around 30 children and their parents turned up to take part in the workshop and left us with some fantastic ideas for the future.
It was clear from this first meeting that there certainly is a requirement for a project like this in the Morzine valley and that Safe House has a big future. In fact, I realised quite early on that it was too big for me to manage alone. I also felt it important to differentiate the project from MADhouse because I want all young people in the valley to feel welcome and that Safe House is for them. Again, the Morzine community came to the rescue. The Ellie Soutter Foundation came forward with an off er to work with me on the project as the ethos and purpose of Safe House falls directly inline with the work of the Foundation. This is why I’m proud to say that Safe House has become Ellie’s Safe House. Our beautiful community was devastated when we lost Ellie in 2018, I hope that by teaming up with the Foundation, we can build something that she would be truly proud of.
We’re still very much the early stages of this project but I’m so excited for the future. We have some fantastic people on the team and some big plans for the next few months. To put it simply, the plan is to off er weekly advice and support via social media and to organise and run workshops based on what the children and parents tell us they need help with. We’re speaking to some amazing people who are keen to get involved so watch this space! We want to off er something new to the Morzine community, a new support network for our young people, connections to experts they haven’t had the opportunity to meet and speak to before, a bit of guidance through some of the tough stuff and also a bit of help when they need it. Ellie’s Safe House believes that by building stronger foundations, you can live a happier and healthier life.
We are active on Instagram and Facebook so please follow us. We will let you know about the latest workshops, provide valuable information to help you navigate through some of the difficult parts of life and we’ll have lots of help and advice from experts.
“Ellie’s Safe House simply wants to build something that promotes a better, kinder world for us all”
We want to stress that you don’t need to be struggling with something to be part of Ellie’s Safe House. It is designed to be preventative. Think of it as a place to go to talk and to learn about new ways of coping. We also want you to ask questions, we’ll do our best to get you the answers. Ellie’s Safe House simply wants to build something that promotes a better, kinder world for us all. Be part of it.