We here at LADbible are delighted to announce we're a media partner for the 2019 National Prince's Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards, a ceremony dedicated to honouring the achievements of young people supported by the Trust.
On Wednesday 13 March, guests will gather at the London Palladium to see those who well and truly earned their recognition and we'll be right there in the crowd, cheering them on while covering the highlights of the event via LADbible's Snapchat Discover Channel.
If you're wondering what the Prince's Trust is all about, the charity's mission is to help young people aged 11 to 30 who have experienced issues with school or employment.
Many of those who join are in or leaving care, facing hardships such as homelessness or mental health problems, or have been in trouble with the law.
Since it was founded 1976, the Trust has helped hundreds of thousands of young people to transform the lives of their own and others, by working with them to build the confidence and skills to find work and live independently.
This year, we're partnering with the Prince's Trust Dell EMC Community Impact Award in association with our own U OK M8? mental health campaign. This particular award is handed to a select group of people who've made a positive impact on their local community.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Laura Gorman, one of eight 17-24 year olds who are receiving this honour at the upcoming ceremony.
Known as Team 34, Laura, Cameron Carson, Aoife O'Reilly, Matthew Duggan, Celine Smyth, Demi-Leigh Bateson, Laurie McKay and Connor McMullan all met through The Trust's Team programme, a 12-week personal development course offering participants the chance to gain new skills, take a qualification, but also make a difference on the lives of those around them.
Credit: Prince's Trust
After noticing that North and West Belfast has the largest number of suicides in Northern Ireland, the group decided to take matters into their own hands. "When we got together and started to talk, we spotted a link between our local communities and suicide rates," explained Laura.
However, when making a connection with PIPS, a local suicide prevention charity, they discovered that there was nothing in place to help young people. "It was all adults talking down to young people and not really teaching them how to spot it in their peers," explained Laura.
It became obvious that they needed to create a programme made by and for young people specifically to effectively tackle suicide in their peers - and that's exactly what they did.
"The training coordinator at PIPS felt that there was a vital need for a youth programme," added Nadia Sayers, youth development coordinator at PIPS. "We knew that the best way for this message to be delivered would be peer to peer, youth to youth, from their point of view.
"As we had an ongoing relationship with the Prince's Trust, we decided to approach Belfast Metropolitan College who then connected with Team 34, who had a keen interest in mental health and the need for help and were interested in developing this with us."
The team and the organisation worked together to create and launch a truly unique initiative that set about making a significant impact.
"We named our programme HOPE, which stands for Hold On, Pain Ends, and broke the message down into the acronym SIGNS to teach people the five signs of suicide: sleep disturbance, isolation, giving away possessions, no more interest in anything and speaking with no future," said Laura.
"HOPE is about explaining what these signs mean in reality. So teaching somebody who's 13 or 14 to spot that their friend who's football mad isn't going to football practice anymore, or that somebody who loves computer games is giving away their controllers," added team leader Whitney McAdam.
"It's about recognising those signs early enough that they can intervene before a figure of authority has to step in. When a friend says it they're more likely to stop and take notice."
Credit: Prince's Trust
Ultimately, the goal of HOPE is to get young people to realise that admitting they're not okay isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength.
"Even though the target age group is not where the high numbers of suicides emerge from, it is where the difficulties originally begin and develop from," explained Nadia.
"The aim of the programme is not only to raise awareness, but to urge early intervention so people don't get to crisis, and also for preparation if crisis does approach."
Much like the rest of the team members, Laura had her own set of obstacles in the way and even had to turn down a job offer at a nursing home as she's got a young child at home.
Thanks to the programme and their hard work, Laura and the rest of the group were able to prove their abilities through the creation of this impactful initiative - and already it's gone further afield than they had hoped.
Following a wildly successful launch night earlier last year, PIPS has since employed a member of staff who works for the organisation strictly based on HOPE, alongside a set of volunteers who are involved in the project too.
Speaking about this incredible achievement, Nadia said: "The programme has been a huge success - we have delivered over 100 sessions throughout Northern Ireland, to over approximately 2,500 young people."
Understandably, the Prince's Trust is delighted to announce Team 34 as the winners of its 2019 Community Impact Award for their incredible and ongoing achievement.
Credit: Prince's Trust
"It feels amazing to have won," exclaimed Laura. "I didn't think it was going to go this far and I feel extremely grateful. I'm also really excited to go to London for the first time."
While the winners remain modest, team leader Whitney was on hand to point out just how significant an impact they've all made. "I've been involved with too many teams at this point and there are very few of them that have shown as much passion and effort as this group did.
"The fact that they're still making the effort to push the programme a year and a half later is unbelievable - the effort they've put in and continue to is so appreciated by everybody here."
In terms of the future, we're rooting for HOPE to be rolled out nationwide. In the meantime, the team are excited to pick up their well-deserved award.