Congratulations to HeadStart!


Looking Forward would like to congratulate HeadStart in Wolverhampton on securing multi-million pound funding from the Big Lottery Fund to extend its programme for a further 5 years.

HeadStart was set up in 2014 to deliver special resilience training to children and young people, helping them deal with change, build relationships and tackle problems which could cause depression and anxiety.

The boost will see HeadStart work in schools to help young people with emotional issues know where to get support and raise awareness of the importance of mental health.

Looking Forward is excited to know that emotional and mental health well-being services are continuing to be developed in the West Midlands.

Looking Forward is Big Lottery funded programme within Murray Hall Community Trust to address the emotional and mental health needs of children and young people living in Sandwell.

LFlogohi_big_e_min_blkmurray hall celebrating 20 years


Mental Health Awareness Week


This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 and the theme this year is Relationships.

Mental Health Foundation are calling on people to commit to maintaining good relationships with friends, family and colleagues.  They believe that we need to understand how important positive relationships are to our health and wellbeing. We cannot flourish as individuals and communities without them. In fact, they are as important as better-established lifestyle factors, such as eating well, exercising more and stopping smoking.

The charity are asking everyone to go the extra mile in prioritising their relationships. They are calling on people to make a relationship resolution to assess how much time we actively commit to building and maintaining good relationships, and to ask whether we can invest more in being present with and listening to friends, family and colleagues.

Looking Forward also believe in the importance of maintaining positive relationship with children and young people and their families and friends.  We continue to work with children who have suffered a breakdown in relationships either with family or friends whether it be due to a trauma, abuse or the loss of a loved one.  We also work with families to provide therapeutic services in order to build these relationships.

Relationships include: Fights, jealousy, arguments, faith, tears, disagreements – but a real relationship fights through all that with love. 




What is Play/Creative Therapy?

play therapy 1Play/creative therapy is a form of counselling whereby the therapist utilises a variety of play and creative arts techniques to help the young person explore and work through things that may be bothering them. These could be things that are happening in the present or those that have happened in the past.  The therapist supports the young person in trying to make sense of their life experiences and helps them to find strategies for coping with the difficulties that they face.

Play therapy is particularly useful and effective for young people who cannot or do not want to talk about their problems as they can use the mediums to express themselves without the need to talk.

Play/creative therapy may be non-directive in nature where the young person decides what to do in the session, directive, where the therapist leads the way or a combination of the two.

The aim of play/creative therapy is to enable the young person to express and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings in a constructive way within a non-judgmental, supportive environment. Few limitations or boundaries are put into place in order for the young person to feel able to play, create and express themselves freely.  It is therefore important that a confidential, safe space is provided for the young person to work with the therapist.

What is the play/creative therapy toolkit?puppet

The therapist is trained to use a variety of different mediums to help the young person to express and explore their feelings and emotions. These mediums are called the toolkit and include:

Sand tray and figures


Art materials including clay


Story telling

Drama, dressing up and role play

Creative visualisation

Movement and dance

Whatsupp? – Changing Lives Online

logo 3 wordpressThe Looking Forward Programme is happy to announce our first Showcase Event!

Whatsupp? – Changing Lives Online

is a unique opportunity to learn about the innovative ways we are supporting Children & Young People in Sandwell, & the ways we hope to support them in the near future.

The Event will …

  • Feature an award winning young peoples online counselling service
  • Give you the opportunity to experience the latest interactive technology to connect with young people
  • Feature experiential play & creative therapy workshops
  • Provide free lunch!

We will be holding the showcase at Sandwell Park Farm on the 30th of September.

To book your ticket visit our Eventbrite Page:

But book quickly as there are very few spaces!

Ment4U Volunteering Programme


Logo 1

Who are Murray Hall & what is Shield?

At Murray Hall We believe that people are the agents of change in their own lives & our work is about developing self-esteem & a feeling of self-worth within communities & individuals.

We take a community development approach working to promote positive social change, empowering communities while reflecting & being sensitive to their needs & diversity.

Shield is a Project within Murray Hall that was commissioned with the aim of providing help to young people (aged 5-19) in Sandwell to feel happier, healthier & safer. We offer a range of evidence based interventions to support emotional wellbeing.

Ment4U is a new initiative designed to complement interventions already offered by Shield.

What does Ment4U offer young people?

Ment4U is a new Mentoring initiative developed with the aim of supporting young people (aged 5-19) in the following areas:

  • Improve socialisation/social skills
  • Confidence & self-esteem building
  • Emotional Awareness
  • Resilience building

Ment4U will offer young people a trained Volunteer who will meet with them on a 1:1 basis at either their school or a community venue for 6-8 sessions. Volunteers will work on specific target areas that a young person identifies at their first meeting; this could be ‘to meet new people in my area and make friends’ ‘Find a new hobby’ or simply ‘to be more confident’.

Volunteers will be trained in basic CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) & Protective Behaviours techniques and will use these to provide a programme tailored to the needs of each individual young person.

What we’re looking for

Volunteers Must:

  • Be aged 19 or over.
  • Have an ability to relate to & work with Young People.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Have an awareness of issues specific to young people (bullying, school issues, parents separating etc.)
  • Computer literate.
  • Be able to work creatively.
  • Encourage young people to engage with others socially e.g. encouraging them to attend interest & hobby groups.
  • Teach clients skills & coping mechanisms to increase self-esteem/confidence.
  • Contribute to a blog that can be used to educate others & provide self-help support.
  • Plan & attend presentations in schools & community organisations advertising the support Shield & Ment4U offer.

We would like Volunteers to:

  • Be able to drive & have access to a car/ or be comfortable travelling on public transport
  • Feel comfortable with social media
  • Have the ability to assist Young People with school related tasks (literacy and numeracy)

If you would like to be involved in the Ment4U volunteering programme, or just want a bit more information about what we offer please:

Call the Shield Office on 01902 826 305

Or email

You can also download our leaflet for free so you can give it to anyone you think might be interested in volunteering with Ment4U.

Ment4U Flyer


Self Harm… what does that mean??

Attention seeking… a cry for help…suicidal…

self harm picture 1

A quick google search provides the following definition:



deliberate injury to oneself, typically as a manifestation of a psychological or psychiatric disorder.


commit self-harm.


Self-harm is an umbrella term for any behavior, action or habit, which can cause damage to your health. This can include cutting, but also includes overeating, taking drugs, smoking and drinking too much alcohol. It’s a wide area that covers a whole range of actions and is most often done without suicidal intentions.

For many of the young people I see as part of my job self-harm is a way of managing the struggles they face and giving themselves enough control to be able to face the day, but sometimes after self-harming people can feel worse. Self-harm UK say ‘13% of young people may try to hurt themselves on purpose at some point between the ages of 11 and 16’ but it’s so difficult to get actual figures because many young people don’t ask for help, the most common method we come across is cutting (generally to the arms and legs). In this blog I don’t want to bore you with lots of stats or tell you how to ‘fix’ people, who self-harm because it’s not as simple as that, as part of my role as project worker I try to give simple advise to young people on how to manage their emotions and I’m going to share some of that advice with you.

Different Types of Self-harm


As I said before the most common form of self-harm I come across is cutting but there’s lots of different ways people self-harm, some of these are less obvious, such as putting yourself in risky situations, or not looking after your own physical or emotional needs.


Weating problems picture 1ays of self-harming can include:

  • cutting yourself
  • poisoning yourself
  • over or under-eating
  • burning your skin
  • inserting objects into your body
  • hitting yourself or walls
  • overdosing
  • misusing alcohol and drugs
  • exercising excessively
  • scratching and hair pulling


There are some Do’s and Don’ts if you know someone who is self-harming or has been thinking about self-harm…



  • Stay calm
  • Listen to how they are feeling and offer constructive advice
  • Continue with any plans or daily routines
  • Be supportive
  • Encourage them to seek help


  • Ask to see the cuts/injuries
  • Bribe them to stop
  • Remove all sharp objects from your home (this can make them feel alienated)
  • Take it personally
  • Tell them off
  • Avoid discussing it if they bring it up
  • Be offended if they feel more comfortable talking to a counsellor/other professional


And some simple Techniques for when someone feels they want to Self-harm:

  • Hit pillows or cushions, or have a good scream into a pillow or cushion to vent anger and frustration
  • Rub ice across your skin where you might usually cut, or hold an ice-cube in the crook of your arm or leg, you could also use red ice if this helps
  • Put elastic bands on wrists, arms or legs and flick them instead of cutting or hitting
  • Have a cold bath or shower
  • Use a red felt tip pen to mark where you might usually cut
  • Do some vigorous exercise like running, martial arts or swimming
  • Practice Mindfulness or Meditation


There is one thing that I always tell young people who self-harm You are not alone! Self-harm can become habitual and it isn’t easy to stop but there are people who can offer practical support and advice.

self harm picture 2

This is a list of organisations which you can turn to if you are struggling with self harm, you can also talk to a teacher or doctor who will be able to help you find support:

posted by claire
My name’s Claire, I’m a project worker for the Murray Hall Shield Programme. I also run the MENT4U volunteering programme as a part of Shield.


One aspect of the Looking Forward programme which we are all very proud of & excited by is our partnership with is a free, anonymous, online counselling service which is available to children & young people living in Sandwell. It has been running for nearly a year now & over 150 young people have signed up; we think that this is fantastic but want even more young people to log on an get the support they need.kooth screen shot

Once you visit the website all you need to do is click the red “Join Kooth Now” button, you then add in a few details like what area you live in, your age & your star sign, give yourself a username & your ready to go!!

Once you’re in there are lots of forums, magazines & journals which you can take a look at 24 hours a day. You can also book sessions with a counsellor or even drop in whenever you feel like it. You can see what other people struggling with the same issues are doing & share your own personal experiences to help others.

kooth-home-photo3All of the forums, articles & self-help material is monitored so if your a parent or teacher you don’t need to worry that a young person who is at risk will miss out on the support they need. The close working relationship between Kooth & ourselves means that if a young person needs or wants to see a counsellor or therapist face-to-face they can.

If you feel like Kooth support is something you want just click the big red button at the top of the page.

If you are teacher, parent or friend of someone you think would find Kooth useful, we have put some posters & leaflets below. These are completely free & might be useful to stick up in corridors, common rooms or to give to people to read.


kooth poster

kooth card

The Stand Up Kid

Watch The Stand Up Kid video designed & created by Time to Change to help stamp out the stigma faced by young people affected by mental health problems.

The Stand Up Kid was created alongside research which showed that nearly one in ten young people in the West Midlands thought that classmates with a mental health problem should not be at their school. The same number of young people also felt that they would stop being friends with someone if they had a mental health problem.

Time to Change also found that 9 out of 10 young people affected by mental health issues had also been affected by mental health stigma & experienced negative treatment as a result of this stigma.

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues or the stigma surrounding them please find support through Murray Hall, Time to Change or your GP.

Video created by: time for change

We Need You!

  Young Persons Steering Group

Click to Download the Application Form

Looking Forward is now ready to Launch its Young Persons Steering Group

We want any Young Person aged between 11 and 21 who feels strongly about mental health & emotional well-being issues to apply. The group should represent all Children & Young People in Sandwell so we want as diverse a set of applicants as possible. You don’t need to have experience of emotional well-being services but you do need to be hard working, committed & passionate.

As a member of the steering group you will represent children & young people giving them a voice when it comes to health & emotional well-being, have the opportunity to influence & shape services & effect policy & commissioning. We also want to help you address the emotional well-being & mental health issues you feel are important to children & young people, whether they are local or national.

We are currently looking for Young People who are interested in working with Looking Forward to design & promote the Steering Group. As one of the steering groups initial members you will have a direct influence over how it is governed & run, & how the steering group operates in the future.

For more information on the Steering Group or to find out how to apply please:

email or follow the links above.

‘Change the Game’ Training Dates

We are proud to announce two upcoming training dates for our redesigned creative and expressive ‘Change the Game’ Training.

The 2nd  and the 3rd of December 2014, to be held at The Bridge, St Marks Road, Tipton, DY4 0LU.

The course costs £99, runs from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm and lunch will be provided. The day will be packed full of activities and games to give you a hands on learning experience so expect lots of physical activity and to be a out of your comfort zone.

Email to book your spot.

Remember that we only have 8 spaces available for each day so book now to ensure you get your place!

Click here to download our Change the Game Flyer and Booking Form