We Are Poppy is a project that explores women’s experiences of the First World War and how the War affected their mental health. It is a story developed and told by young people, aged between 14 and 19. Created in a time of Covid-19 and lockdown, there are new parallels to be explored.

One hundred years ago, in November 1920, thousands of women wrote letters to the government asking to be part of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey on 11 November. They were convinced that the Unknown Warrior being buried there that day was their son. This was just one of the stories our young team unearthed in their quest to find out how the Great War affected women’s mental health. They wanted to find out what has changed for women in the past 100 years and which challenges women still face today.

“Nobody seemed to remember that women had been affected too. Nurses working on the front lines saw terrible things. Women at home had their houses destroyed and workers in ammunition factories often had life-changing injuries.” Daisy, 14

“I knew about the men and their shellshock and how mental health wasn’t such a well-known thing back then, so how they were all discovering what that was but it hadn’t even occurred to me that the women would get shellshock or PTSD from working on the frontline.” Amelie, 14

We Are Poppy, was set up by Make (Good) Trouble with a team made up of teenagers from Hove Park School in Brighton and the East Sussex Youth Cabinet as well as local volunteers.

The project culminated in a one-off podcast which will be broadcast on BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey on Sunday 8 November at 5.30pm as part of Armistice Day commemorations. The podcast imagines a conversation between today’s young people and the young women who lived through the First World War. It looks at how the war shaped the lives of a generation of women as they dealt with trauma, shellshock and loss as well as new-found freedoms. We hear excerpts from the letters, diaries and medical records of women living through the War, and interviews with experts. We ask why women’s experiences and mental health have been ignored for so long.

“I feel like it’s opened my mind more than it would have been because we don’t learn much about women in our lessons in history. The project really expanded my view of what women were doing and how women felt in the First World War.” Arielle, 14

This project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Our We Are Poppy project team members are awarded a Cities of Learning badge in recognition of their work. These digital badges give people a verifiable record of achievement and give employers a new way to connect with talent in cities.

Take a look at our dedicated website: wearepoppy.org which includes interviews, research and creative projects plus a comprehensive schools pack aimed at secondary school-age children. 

Teen in WW1 and modern dress
We Are Poppy student, Daisy

We’d love to know what you think of our project. Let us know in the comments!

“If we fail to support teachers to make schools inclusive spaces that nurture the social and emotional development of our young people in the post-Covid world, we have failed a generation.” Jasper Kain & Jack Reynolds, FBB Co-Directors

Each month Make (Good) Trouble highlights a charity or organisation that provides a service to families and young people and professionals who support them. This month, we’re supporting Football Beyond Borders (FBB) – an education and social inclusion charity that supports young people up and down England who are passionate about football but disconnected at school. They help build long-term relationships around their love of the game and help them finish school and ensure a successful transition into adulthood. 

“LOCKDOWN. THE WORLD STOOD STILL. Normal changed forever. New ways were introduced. Exclusion, isolation, inactivity became the everyday. The nation gripped by government updates, each one restricting movement, preventing socialising and increasing detachment.” 2020 Beyond Lockdown 

FBB targets children that are at a risk of being excluded and work to keep them within mainstream education. Alongside using football as part of youth engagement, they also offer a two-year school’s programme for boys and one for girls where time is divided equally between pitch-based learning and classroom-based learning (reading, writing, speaking and listening skills). Find out more about what they do here.

In early October FBB launched a new national campaign highlighting why young people should be in school. Their “Beyond Lockdown” coffee table book is a photographic record of young people they interviewed during this exceptional time. The book is a testimony of young people’s experience, how some enjoyed the freedom away from school, while others struggled with their mental health and loneliness.

Buy Beyond Lockdown here – for each book you buy, FBB will donate a free copy to one of the participants and schools they work with across the UK.

This morning, we were invited on to BBC Radio Sussex to speak about Sussex Police’s initiative to reduce knife crime.

Make (Good) Trouble founder, Daisy Cresswell, talked to BBC Sussex’s Allison Ferns about our work with young people and the brilliant REBOOT project that we have been involved in.

You can listen to Daisy’s discussion on BBC Sussex here:

There are also some great discussions worth listening to from our Facebook Live Q&As in recent weeks.

PC Joe Davis talks about keeping your teen out of trouble

Changing Chances’ Kit Messenger discusses tips for reducing conflict with your teen:

We talk to people from Sussex Police’s REBOOT scheme

Join the discussion on our Raising Teens in Lockdown Facebook Group

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The brilliant Kit Messenger from Changing Chances joined us this morning for a live chat about raising teens and dealing with conflict. She gave us some great parenting advice about how to have those difficult conversations, when to have them, and how to ask the right questions of your teen to get a positive outcome.

If you’ve had battles over homework, staying out, not helping with the housework… and all the rest! then it’ll be well worth a watch. It’s just 32 minutes long.

Live Q&A: Top tips for raising teens & dealing with conflict

Join our live discussion about parenting top tips and dealing with conflict between parents/carers and their teens with Make (Good) Trouble’s Daisy Cresswell and Changing Chances’ Kit Messenger

Posted by Make Good Trouble on Thursday, 8 October 2020

We’ll be chatting with Kit again in the coming weeks, so if you have any questions, leave a message in the comments below.

Find out more about Changing Chances on their website.

If you need someone to talk to, join the Raising Teens in Lockdown Facebook group for support from professionals, parents and teens.