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Life changing LGBTQ+ research project wins Knowledge Exchange award

THE University of Central Lancashire's Creative Mental Health Framework (CMHF) has won the top award in the:- 'Supporting Equity, Diversity and Inclusion through Knowledge Exchange' category of the PraxisAuril KE Awards 2023.
A Creative Mental Health research project, focussed on improving the wellbeing of the University of Central Lancashire's LGBTQ+ student community, has won a prestigious Knowledge Exchange award

For the past 12 months, UCLan's Creative Mental Health Framework (CMHF) has been delivered by students for students. Some students have described the project as life changing. It harnesses creativity to raise the profile and reduce barriers and stigma around mental health in the LGBTQ+ community through team work as well as dynamic and engaging activities.

Partnering with Tate Liverpool, Growing Resilience, Lancashire MIND, and Lancashire LGBT, UCLan's Creative Mental Health Framework has produced and delivered peer to peer mental health training for 300 LGBT+ students who champion diversity. It has also trained Mental Health Ambassadors to educate and support LGBT+ challenges and worked with the University's media students and staff to produce Sky TV programmes and podcasts which have the potential reach of 8 million viewers.

The Creative Mental Health Framework was recognised for its achievements by scooping the top award in the:- 'Supporting Equity, Diversity and Inclusion through Knowledge Exchange' category of the PraxisAuril KE Awards 2023, was held on the evening of Thursday, 23 November 2023.

The Creative Innovation Zone Team led the programme founded and evaluated by Emma Speed and Dr Gillian Raynor.

Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, said:- "Using world class research to positively transform the lives of the communities we serve is a priority for us at the University of Central Lancashire. Celebrating how University research makes positive differences to the lives of individuals and wider society is crucial. For that reason I'm delighted the work of our Creative Mental Health Framework is being recognised and celebrated."

Evaluation of UCLan's Creative Mental Health Framework shows that there has been a 60% increase in student awareness about student support services, mental health, and wellbeing within the University for the target group, as well as a wider awareness of LGBTQ+ student issues through media broadcast on Sky TV.

One of the highlights of the research project was students being given the opportunity to perform a theatre show celebrating stories of those who have taken part as well as having their artwork exhibited in the Tate Liverpool gallery.

Poppy, a 3rd year LGBTQ+ student at UCLan, added:- "Being a part of the Creative Mental Health Framework has transformed how I see myself and helped me find a new way to express anxiety and worries. I have forged friendships and by sharing my experiences through art it has given us a lasting way to reach others who may also benefit from our journey."

Leading Liverpool education project has HEARTS of gold

AN innovative Liverpool education project that supports some of the City's most vulnerable children has won a teaching:- "Oscar" this weekend.

The Liverpool HEARTS Project Team, which is led and funded by Liverpool City Council's Virtual School in partnership with Hope School, received a prestigious gold Pearson National Teaching Award for its work to introduce trauma- and attachment-informed practices in Liverpool's Schools.

Up against 3 other nominees in the Impact Through Partnership category, the team had already been announced as a silver winner in June, with all silver recipients then becoming nominees for the gold awards which were announced at Saturday's grand final event.

The Impact through Partnership category recognises Schools that have worked widely to have an impact on children and staff through joint projects that provide enrichment opportunities.

The HEARTS Project is a wider collaboration between Virtual School Liverpool, Hope School, Changing Minds Child and Family Services UK, and The University of Chester. HEARTS stands for:-

  • Holistic thinking.

  • Empowering the School community.

  • Aspirations for every pupil.

  • Relational focus.

  • Trust and safety.

  • Shared purpose.

Hope School has been a leader since 2014 in supporting children with complex trauma histories and attachment disruptions and is rated as:- "outstanding" by Ofsted.

Since 2021, the School has been sharing its expertise with other Liverpool Schools via the HEARTS project, which has been designed and led by Virtual School Liverpool.

The project started as a pilot with 10 Schools and has now expanded to 32 with many Schools involved seeing improvements in inclusion and mental health. The project will continue to roll out to further Schools each year.

The 10 pilot Schools were:- The Belvedere Academy, St Patrick's Catholic Primary School, Windsor Primary School, Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Primary School, Anfield Road Primary School, Gwladys Street Primary School, Broad Square Primary School, Mab Lane Primary School, The Academy of St Nicholas, and The Academy of St Francis of Assisi.

Cllr Lila Bennett, Cabinet Member for Employment, Educational Attainment and Skills, said:- "This award acknowledges the tremendous progress that the Liverpool HEARTS Project has made since 2021 and I am delighted that this has been nationally recognised. Working in this way is a true investment in our children's futures and the positive engagement from Schools across the City proves how much it is valued. The project shows the profound difference that can be made when the right people start working together with passion and drive. Liverpool HEARTS demonstrates the power of collaboration."

Carolyn Lawler, Virtual School headteacher and project lead, said:- "It has been commitment, dedication, collaboration and hard work of many individuals that has helped to develop and drive this project forward over the last 2 years and ultimately achieve this prestigious award. This is a tremendous achievement as it is a national recognition for the excellent work being developed across the City through the HEARTS Project for the benefit of children across Liverpool."

Maxine O'Neill, headteacher, Hope School, said:- "My passion for making a difference to children who often express their emotions in an undesirable way comes from being raised by parents who fostered children who had a difficult start to life. Every child should be supported to achieve their potential no matter what. The HEARTS project underpins a psychologically informed way of working with not just children, but all stakeholders within Schools. To be recognised as the Gold Pearson Award winner will allow this incredible work to have a better platform and hopefully increase research into the long term impact of this approach."

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