Futureworks tackling student mental health with The Many Hands Project

Futureworks is excited to be one of 5 Higher Education institutions involved in the development of The Many Hands Project. The project was conceived by Independent Higher Education (IHE) and developed as a way to support and improve student mental health and wellbeing. At Futureworks we feel strongly that mental health should never be a barrier to success in any area of life.

Many Hands is a peer-to-peer mentoring service for students. The focus is on mature students, Black, Asian and minority ethnic students, and those studying creative subjects.

Who’s taking part?

We’re very excited to be working with several great Higher Education institutions across the country. This is the first time that a project like this has been funded for smaller institutions. Here’s some info on those joining us on Many Hands:

  • Futureworks – Futureworks provides world-class education and training in Sound, Music, Film & TV, Games, Animation and Visual Effects – https://futureworks.ac.uk/
  • Academy of Contemporary Music – The Academy of Contemporary Music has been training artists, producers and business entrepreneurs for careers in the creative industries since 1995 – https://www.acm.ac.uk/
  • Matrix College of Counselling & Psychotherapy – A specialist college dedicated to training counsellors to the highest standards. – https://matrix.ac.uk/
  • Regent College London – Welcomes students of all ages from across the globe. Their aime is to provide a stimulating and supportive learning environment that enables students to interact, share stories and support each other within a collective community – https://www.rcl.ac.uk/
  • The Tavistock and Portman Foundation – The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is a specialist mental health trust. They focus on training and education alongside a full range of mental health services and psychological therapies for children, families, young people and adults – https://tavistockandportman.nhs.uk/about-us /

Alongside this, specialist and technical expertise is being provided by The Ambassador Platform (TAP) and Applied Inspiration’s SEER (Specialist Evidence, Evaluation and Research) service.

TAP are the market leaders in experience communication management (XCM) technology. They work with over 100 Higher Education institutions and organisations across the globe. TAP provides a method of online communication used by students via online chat.

Students are also able to meet face to face, via WhatsApp or digitally via Zoom /Teams. It’s really down to however the mentor and mentee would prefer to communicate.

We’re so thrilled to be involved! Mental health is so important.

As part of the bid, Futureworks were designated to lead the management of the mentors and mentees. We are so happy and honoured to be involved and we’re working hard to deliver the best support we can to students facing difficulties. We know that the project will be very beneficial to  all those who take part.

“Being involved with the Many Hands Project has been really rewarding – even at this early stage. The opportunity to work with colleagues from lots of different providers to achieve something really positive has been very exciting. It’s also the first time that an independent provider like Futureworks has ever been funded for a project like this. We’re looking forward to supporting students from across the country through the Many Hands Project over the coming months.” – Ben Norris, Vice Principal of Futureworks?

What are we aiming to do to improve student mental health?

Many Hands peer mentoring programme is designed to provide support and guidance to students at whatever stage of their course they feel they might require it.  Mentors are selected based on their ability to provide the skills, knowledge and experience to support positive mental health in university students throughout their studies.

The aim of the project is to match any student who is looking for some support with a mentor who has been in a similar situation and overcome it. It’s hoped that establishing a relationship between someone who has lived through a particular experience and someone less experienced will help them to better cope with any difficulties faced during university.

“Active student engagement in developing mental health initiatives is very important. I’m pleased to lead the student advisory group to this project and report to the IHE Board on its progress and its real impact on students at these providers.” Sophie McCarthy, Student Representative on the IHE Board.

The Many Hands project is unique in that trained mentors will be available to match with students across the participating IHE members. This means that a student can experience mentorship from a mentor outside of their own place of study.  This will potentially bring a further range of skills and knowledge for students to access, as well as the added element of anonymity.

Could you be one of our mentors?

A mentoring role will suit people who:

  • Have strong listening skills or would like to develop them
  • Are highly empathetic
  • Are friendly and supportive
  • Are prepared to share relevant life experiences where appropriate

Find out more on how to become a mentor here.

Mentors complete online training sessions before becoming a mentor. They have also been provided information that explains how the project operates, what the role of a mentor is and what is expected of them. This includes issues such as safeguarding, boundaries and confidentiality. They will also develop listening and specific mentoring skills. Support for mentors will continue with supervision and group support across the project.

We’re making really great progress within the project.

Many Hands has been really successful so far. We ‘ve recently approved the first cohort of eight mentors who have received their training and are ready to go!

You can check out their profiles on the website by clicking here.

Applications did not stop there and the next round of training is scheduled for the end of March.

Here’s what our Student Welfare Officer, Leanne Kindley had to say about working at the forefront of the project:

“Having the opportunity to be involved and lead The Many Hands Project has been very rewarding. It’s been an exciting journey to see the project grow and evolve. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and meet colleagues / students from various backgrounds and institutions, which has helped me personally develop.

The project brings a unique aspect of peer-peer mentoring whereby students across different institutions can mentor each other. My hope is that students from the involved institutions can recognise their own personal valuable life experiences to help other students that may be struggling with isolation, homesickness and low confidence.

We are now recruiting for mentees and it’s very exciting to see the project starting to come together!”

You can get matched with a mentor right now!

As a student you may feel like you need a friendly conversation about student life. Perhaps some help balancing studies with work and family. A chat about confidence or motivational issues, or help with time-management, planning, prioritising and goal setting.

Does that sound like you? If so, you can click here to be matched with a mentor!

Feedback from our mentor training has been fantastic.

The feedback from the training we’ve provided for our mentors has been very positive. Students felt that the online sessions worked very well and everyone had a chance to communicate, get involved and ask questions. We want the training sessions to be fun and interactive with lots of conversations and discussions, so it was really lovely to hear!

The mentors also reported that the training gave them more of an insight into becoming a good mentor. It allowed them to share their experiences, as well as taught them a lot.

 The Many Hands Project has secured funding for the next year, and we’re optimistic that the scheme will continue beyond that time. We can’t wait to start matching students with their mentors! Remember, university doesn’t have to be a struggle – you have our support throughout the entirety of your studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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