LookUp came to be when one beautiful day, during a lunch break at work, I was scrolling through social media sites on my phone and noticed I was bombarded with upsetting, heartbreaking news, images and content.
I decided to stop and look up. I took in my surroundings and focused on how I was feeling at that moment. I took a few photos to capture how beautiful the sky looked but instead of posting the images online I put my phone away and decided to observe my emotions and simply be in the present.
This got me thinking about how much social media and technology dominates our lives, especially the younger generations, the impact it has on our mental health and wellbeing, and the damaging messages it can send.
Because of the role I was working in at the time (iTalk), I thought about the number of referrals we received from young people whom we couldn't help (iTalk accepts applications from people 16+) and were being bounced from GP to CAMHS to us and back again, sometimes over and over.
I wanted to create a place where young people could go and feel safe. A place where they could make new friends, and either share how they're feeling or if not, know that they have people to listen and support them as/when they're ready. A place where no one is judged, no one needs to wait for vital support and a place where early intervention and prevention is possible. A place which provides therapeutic interventions through art and creativity as well as providing wellbeing toolkits which can be taken home, not just for young people, but also for parents, guardians, carers, schools and GPs.
And so, LookUp was born...
The main bit of "homework" we'd ask for these young people to do is to put down their electronic devices for at least an hour during the week (or as often as they'd like) and during that time take in their surroundings, think about how they feel, how they have been feeling and take the time to look up. The idea is to capture that moment and when they come along to a LookUp group use different forms of art - be it photography, drawing, painting, writing, dancing - to portray what they saw and express the emotions they were feeling.
The idea is to encourage young people to understand the benefits of tapping into their emotions, whilst being able to step away from social media and know that they don't need to rely on it so heavily.
However, as we know young people live in a tech and social media dominated society and as it is a big part of their lives we would hope to be able to showcase the work they have produced through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #LookUp - this will hopefully encourage them to continue to create whilst being able to share with their peers, friends, family and look at the journey they've been on through attending LookUp workshops. Their own creative portfolio. The #LookUp hashtag would ideally be positive and hopefully invite others to do the same or attend workshops. It would hopefully also reinforce the idea that social media is something which does not constantly need to be used and that time away from screens gives them more time to appreciate everything else that is happening around them but when they want to use it can have positive benefits.
What is LookUp?
Project Lookup will develop a safe place environment for 11-15 years olds who either have been diagnosed with mental health issues or feel that they need help and are unable to discuss their problems with parents, school or peers. The safe place will provide young people with access to art and similar therapies to enable discussion and a feeling of belonging. The Project will develop a self-help toolkit for both such young people and parents to provide longer-term support.
EVMT Progress Limited and Community First have partnered to develop the Lookup Project using the existing excellent capability at Havant. EVMT have already assessed the market and key requirements for the Project and with Community First will design and test the proposed scheme which will either be a start-up or based upon an existing scheme already in place at Community First.
EVMT with support from Community First will conduct a detailed stakeholder engagement plan.
Community First will lead the project management task with support from EVMT. Once the concept design has been reviewed and agreed the next stage would be to roll out the capability to the wider community and develop the required support toolkits and apps as appropriate.
The Project concept phase will commence in March and the design phase and review will be over a 12 weeks period completing by late June or early July. If successful and a sustainable approach can be agreed then full project deployment will be in the autumn. EVMT intend to issue a series of communications as the project progresses.
Early intervention resulting in support being provided to potentially vulnerable young people filling the existing gap.
Potential to provide longer term support young people and parents via the proposed toolkits.
Potential savings for both the NHS and Voluntary sectors as early intervention will reduce the numbers of over-16s requiring help.
LookUp is currently in a planning phase soon to be piloted. If you would like more information please firstname.lastname@example.org, or as always you can comment below or contact me via my social media platforms and email.