On the 10th of April 2018, Daisy and I signed on the dotted line and Make (Good) Trouble came into being. We were in the middle of planning our big ‘Brighton5’ crowdfunder campaign to generate funds and get teens involved in making and producing films. With the brilliant Jane Keating involved – the third musketeer in our management team – we created a beautiful film and hit our Crowdfunder target.
We grew and evolved – in November 2018, we changed our company’s status to a Community Interest Company (giving us a second birthday!), matching our ethos to put young people at the heart of what we do and give back to the community. Our work also supports frontline workers – those who help young people with their mental health and wellbeing – including teachers, support workers, the police, CAMHS and the NHS. And we have met some amazing people in all those roles. In the last year, we took on the lovely Saba Ali, who looks after our social media, and helps us keep on top of admin-y things. We were also Finalists for Start-Up of the Year at the Brighton & Hove Business Awards.
Our teen team has grown from five in Kemptown to teens all across the UK. They have been busy filming, editing, photographing, writing, speaking at events, reporting and composing. They have taken courses in mental health first aid, interviewing using clean questions, sound recording, media production and compliance.
Perhaps our biggest achievement to date has been to produce two BBC radio series called Raising Teens, bringing teenagers and their parents and carers closer together, and dispeling myths around teen mental health. We want to say a huge thanks to our teen reporter Lola Ray, host Guy Lloyd, BBC Sussex producer Richard Culver, and all the teens, parents and experts who shared their stories and advice. With the wonderful support of Public Health and the Clinical Commissioning Group, we were able to properly air difficult subjects like eating disorders, self-harm, grief and alcohol abuse. We are really proud of Raising Teens.
Series three is in the planning stages. It promises to be bigger and bolder, focusing on issues around living in lockdown, a hugely important endeavour when you read that demand for help in the weeks since lockdown has been “unprecedented”, according to the children’s helpline Childline. Young people with existing mental health issues are reporting increased anxiety, problems with sleep, panic attacks or more frequent urges to self-harm, according to a recent survey by the charity Young Minds.
To support parents, we have created a Facebook group, Raising Teens in Lockdown, with almost 900 members. We have reached out to our network of psychotherapists, teachers and other experts to answer questions and give advice.
At the beginning of 2020, we started working on an ambitious, long-term project focusing on more vulnerable and marginalised children. We were proud to partner with OSPCC’s Reboot scheme and Changing Chances to deliver the first phase (read more about it here). Our aim is to help young people to understand their adolescent brain and better manage their emotions in adverse conditions, putting them in control. Further phases of the project will include the development of a digital toolkit for young people so they can access help and support any time they need it.
We believe that this work is vital in an era where rising numbers of children are being excluded from schools – on average, 41 children are permanently excluded from English state schools every day (RSA Pinball Kids report, March 2019). This project is all about digital delivery, and it has never been as needed as it is today with schools closed to most and many support services restricted by lockdown. Like so many other not-for-profit companies, we are now researching innovative ways to attract new funding for the project, albeit from a place of economic uncertainty.
Lastly, we are still working on our First World War project, Poppy, researching the history of women’s mental health in the Great War, and looking at what parallels and differences there are today. We are planning on opening up the project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to anyone who wants to get involved by taking it online. (Watch this space!)
And so to today, our birthday! We will be celebrating in Lockdown-style with a team Zoom call, raising a glass to a company that is more than the sum of its parts, one that has introduced us to some incredible people with the same aim of disrupting the status quo and building a better future for the next generation. Thank you for sticking with us. We want to continue the conversation and support each other through these strange and uncertain times. We’re here for you.