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Ashleigh began her NCS journey with me (Alice Reilly) way back at the beginning of summer on the 10th July. I remember meeting Ashleigh in the early hours of the morning at our pick up location in Scarborough. This was the first coach pick up for the first summer wave and my first time as a Programme Lead. The young people in the Scarborough team that I met at that very first stop have really left a lasting impression on me, especially Ashleigh.

We began our travels to Gravelines where we would stay for the week for Phase 1 of the NCS programme. This week was tough for Ashleigh as she found it difficult to settle with friends, she had a lot going on at home and she was struggling with her mental health. Most evenings before curfew I would spend with Ashleigh talking about herself, her family, her experiences and generally just about life. She is an amazing young person with a lot to give to the world.

During Phase 2 when we were staying at York Uni, the Scarbados team were well and truly formed and they let everyone know about it. I’ve never seen such a transformation from strangers to best friends within a week! Ashleigh was a frontrunner in the team, always getting everyone involved and keeping spirits high. She faced a few challenges again this week with workshops and activities that put her out of her comfort zone, but she didn’t let that stop her. Ashleigh had two great mentors working with her team throughout their NCS journey and it was amazing to see her willingly open up to them and share her thoughts. She is a very mature young girl that with her new found confidence from NCS, there is nothing stopping her now!

For Phase 3 of NCS the young people plan, design and deliver a project of their very own choice. As a few young people in the group struggled with their mental health, they focused their efforts on working in their community to break the stigma around teenage mental health. They organised a gig night and raised funds and awareness for Scarborough Survivors and Mind. During the event a few of the young people stood up on stage and told friends and family from the community about their personal experiences of mental health and Ashleigh spoke in detail about her journey.
I can categorically say that the Ashleigh that I met four weeks prior to this Social Action event would not have stood up on stage and addressed an audience, nevermind be so strong and positive to talk about her own experiences. Her personal development has been incredible and her story has only just begun!

Below is a video of Ashleigh speaking at the event about her own Mental Health: