Beautiful Inside & Out Case Study: Giving a voice to young people

“Receiving YPI grants has been valuable, however raising awareness of the charity through YPI presentations is just as important as it has enabled other young people to access support.”

Beautiful Inside and Out, a charity which has been involved with a number of YPI participating schools, was set up by Pauline Moriarty in 2013 following the suicide of her 13 year old daughter Jenna, who she describes as “beautiful, intelligent, altruistic, hilarious and compassionate”.  Here Pauline shares her experience of working with YPI groups, and why she feels the programme provides young people with a voice.

Just two days before her death, Jenna confided in her mum about why she was feeling so sad. Pauline had told her “darling, you are beautiful inside and out” hence the charity’s name. In the aftermath of their tragic bereavement, Pauline and her partner were shocked at the lack of support available for their family. Pauline was particularly concerned when she sought bereavement counselling for Jenna’s five year old sister, Sophie, and was told there was no bereavement counselling available for children and that children are resilient. Pauline decided that she could either “lay down and die” or she could do something about this. She decided to take action and registered Beautiful Inside and Out as a charity just before the first anniversary of Jenna’s death.

Beautiful Inside and Out provides counselling for the parents and siblings of suicide victims and people with mental health difficulties of any age. They also provide music therapy, play therapy and art therapy sessions. The charity also plans to introduce drop in sessions to enable those experiencing similar challenges to get together, make friends with like-minded people and share their experiences.

Pauline first heard about YPI when a group from Kyle Academy made contact with her in 2014. She thought YPI sounded like a great initiative but admits that she didn’t expect very much to come of it. Despite this first group not winning a YPI grant for Beautiful Inside and Out, they did succeed in raising awareness of the charity in their school.

Pauline has now met with and supported several other YPI groups.  Although finding the time to meet with YPI groups can be a challenge, Pauline feels that this is a privilege because the students are working hard to research the charity and deliver a presentation on behalf of Beautiful Inside and Out.  Since 2014, Beautiful Inside and Out has benefited from three YPI grants from Kilwinning Academy, Belmont Academy and James Hamilton Academy.  The charity also received an additional £2000 from STV Children’s Appeal, a national funding partner of YPI Scotland.  Pauline has worked out that this £11,000 of funding has enabled Beautiful Inside and Out to provide 275 counselling sessions, removing the financial barriers to people accessing support.

In addition to receiving three YPI grants, Pauline has developed close, ongoing relationships with staff and students at schools.  Many students at James Hamilton Academy knew about the tragedy of Jenna taking her own life as she had attended a neighbouring school. Five YPI teams from the S3 year group decided to look into the issue of suicide and the charity Beautiful Inside and Out because they were so shocked by Jenna’s death.  When Pauline visited James Hamilton Academy and met with each group, the students all said that they didn’t mind which team won the YPI final, as long as Beautiful Inside and Out won the grant because each group knew of students in their school who desperately needed support but who were too afraid to ask for it.  Pauline found this very touching as the students genuinely cared about raising awareness of the charity’s cause and destigmatising mental health problems.  She was also extremely impressed by their maturity and ability to speak up about a gap in service provision.

On the first day of the summer holidays, the winning team from James Hamilton Academy contacted Pauline to ask how they could get more involved with the charity.  Pauline was amazed that the girls’ first thought after finishing their exams was how they could help her.  The girls helped Pauline to create a promotional video to raise awareness of Beautiful Inside and Out and they’re now involved in the fundraising committee.

“YPI allows young people to have a voice and say this is what matters to me, this is what is close to my heart and this is what I think is an issue amongst young people rather than teachers putting it on them or telling them what they need to learn.”

While receiving YPI grants has been valuable, Pauline says that raising awareness of the charity through YPI presentations is just as important. This has enabled other young people to access their support.  Beautiful Inside and Out has been contacted several times by schools and parents after YPI finals because young people have had the confidence to ask for support after hearing their peers speaking about the charity.  The charity now receives regular referrals directly from teachers because CAMHS (Children and Adults Mental Health Services) referrals can take many weeks or months to arrange.

Two days before Jenna died, she told her mum that she felt she no longer had a voice.  Pauline believes that one of the greatest benefits of YPI is that it allows young people to say what matters to them.

She explains, “YPI allows young people to have a voice and say this is what matters to me, this is what is close to my heart and this is what I think is an issue amongst young people rather than teachers putting it on them or telling them what they need to learn.  It’s a way for them to speak out and say this is a problem that adults may not know about.” 

Pauline says that it is no exaggeration to say that Beautiful Inside and Out may have saved lives through their involvement in YPI.

“Each time a group of young people have chosen to try to win the YPI for their school based on Beautiful Inside and Out, at least one of the young people have contacted us separately explaining that they have either tried to take their own life, that they have struggled or that they know someone close who has.  We have always managed to support the young people involved and they have been determined to raise awareness so that young people have a voice and know where to turn.”

“The YPI programme has enabled many groups of impressionable young people to carry out their own research and select a charity that is close to their hearts. These young people have raised awareness of the aims, achievements and services provided by Beautiful Inside & Out. They have potentially helped us to save lives, as their involvement in raising funds and making a charity video has led bereaved parents and siblings of suicide victims and people who have considered or attempted to end their own precious lives, to come to us for counselling, music therapy, play therapy and/or intensive group therapy.”

For more information on the charity call 07984328808 or visit https://www.facebook.com/beautifulinsideandoutscio/