Bringing Hope on the Streets to self-harmers in Cardiff
Self-harm is a growing problem among young people in the UK. As part of its Hope on the Streets campaign, Church Army shares one young woman's story ...
Self-harm is a growing problem among young people in the UK. As part of its Hope on the Streets campaign, Church Army shares Jenny’s* story
Jenny, who is 25 years old, has struggled with self-harm since she was a teenager – a problem which, according to research from the Mental Health Foundation, affects at least one in 15 young people in the UK.
People can hurt themselves in all sorts of ways and for many different reasons. But in Jenny’s case, physically harming herself was a way of coping with emotional pain and distress.
She says: “Young people who self-harm can often feel very isolated, alone and misunderstood. They may feel judged by their friends and different from other people.
“Personally, throughout my teenage years, I spent most of my time trying to hide my problem. It was like constantly wearing a mask.”
However, thanks to the staff and volunteers at the Amber Project in Cardiff, Jenny has received counselling and one-to-one support.
Alongside this, she has had the opportunity to explore difficult issues within the safe environment of theatre workshops. Her feelings of worth and self-confidence have grown through activity-based workshops such as craft and cookery.
Jenny also got involved in the project’s annual pantomime where she was part of the backstage team.
These activities have allowed Jenny to meet with other young people who have experienced self-harm within a space that feels safe, warm and welcoming. This has helped her feel accepted and given her time to relax with those who understand her. Seeds of hope are gradually being sown back into Jenny’s life.
She says: “The Amber Project has played a major part in my life and at times has kept me alive. I know that sounds dramatic, but during the rough times the staff have really been there for me.
“I remember waking up in hospital feeling really scared after taking an overdose, but Caryl from the project was right there, sitting beside me. Over the years I’ve benefited from the project’s counselling service and have been involved in its workshops.
“The great thing about the project is that everyone treats you as an individual rather than a problem to be solved. Its work really is vital as there’s nothing else like it in the area for young people.”
Health Minister, Anne Milton, revealed new figures in December 2011 showing that over the past 10 years the number of children and young people under the age of 24 who have been hospitalised because of self-harm has risen by 68%.
* Her name has been changed
Join us in helping more people like Jenny
The Amber Project is just one of many projects featured as part of our Hope on the Streets campaign which aims to highlight how people on the very edge of society are being reached with the Good News of the Gospel through words and action.
- £15 could help pay for a young person to access counselling
- £10 could help pay for a theatre workshop
- £5 could help pay for craft materials for a creative session
To donate to Hope on the Streets, please visit www.churcharmy.org.uk/hopeonthestreets or call 0300 123 2113.
Alternatively, to donate £5 now via JustTextGiving, please text CHUR245 to 70070.