College and charity partnership offers students mental health care experience

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Nelson and Colne College has partnered with Burnley charity, Healthier Heroes, to provide students with hands-on experience in mental health care.

Healthier Heroes supports military veterans who may be experiencing difficulties since leaving the forces.

Help is provided in securing housing as well as the provision of a range of mental health care services, from rehabilitation to social inclusion and counselling.

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The partnership allows students who are successful in their application to become Mental Health Cadets.

Andy Powell and Lucy Powell promoting the Healthier Heroes Cadet scheme at Nelson and Colne CollegeAndy Powell and Lucy Powell promoting the Healthier Heroes Cadet scheme at Nelson and Colne College
Andy Powell and Lucy Powell promoting the Healthier Heroes Cadet scheme at Nelson and Colne College

The scheme is open to all students enrolled on Health and Social Care courses. Following a rigorous interview and shortlisting process, successful students will receive a cadet uniform and complete 315 hours of block placement training over a one-year period.

The training and experience they will receive from Bancroft House will directly impact their chosen destination, whether that relates to employment, or higher education at university.

Laura Barrowclough, lecturer and industry lead in Health and Social Care at Nelson and Colne College said: “We are the only college in the whole of the North West that runs a mental health cadet programme.

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“This partnership was set up to support our learners to develop the fundamental skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to work in the mental health sector.

“The growing need for mental health services means that this partnership will help fill some of the gaps created by the pandemic.

“It will also allow our learners to be at the forefront of mental health care, driving outstanding care among future professionals in areas of our local community that need our help.

Usually, students can’t work in mental health until they’re 18 so it’s a great testament to the college that Healthier Heroes expressed such a willingness to work with us.”

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“The pandemic has increased the rate of mental health issues but thankfully, many students are keen to enter the mental health sector to provide much needed support. For our students, the partnership with Healthier Heroes enables them to get a level of experience they’d struggle to get elsewhere at their young ages.”

Andy Powell, managing director of Healthier Heroes and an ex-Army Colour Sergeant is to act as lead partner throughout the scheme.

Andy is also the lead peer mentor for the charity’s most complex beneficiaries and boasts excellent insight into clinical interventions and procedures. He helped design the scheme’s curriculum and articulated the expectations he as an employer would have.

On the partnership with Nelson and Colne College, Andy said: “We feel a duty to give something back to the young people of our community, especially after they missed out on so many precious experiences during the pandemic.

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“The partnership with Nelson and Colne College offers successful students a rare and bespoke opportunity to work alongside qualified experts and gain a broad perspective of mental health care.”

One young person to have already benefitted from working with Healthier Heroes is Lucy Powell, who joined the charity on the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Lucy said: “When I was offered the opportunity to work with Healthier Heroes, I grabbed it with both hands. I have grown and been taught so much within a short period of time and there is still so much more for me to learn.

“I have loved my time with the charity and have felt fully supported throughout.”