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As charity Peer Power marked its sixth year of providing children and young people with health and wellbeing support at a House of Lords reception in June, it shared an important message for youth sector services dealing with trauma.

Driven by her personal experience, Anne-Marie Douglas set up Peer Power in 2016. The organisation supports children and young people who have experienced significant trauma and adversity by using an empathy-focused approach to build trust, foster supportive and consistent relationships, and empower children to speak out. By helping each other become leaders at Peer Power, young people influence policy and guide transformation in local services.At the event, Peer Power presented The Empathy Report which explores the application of empathy in children’s services setting out why it’s important that youth services dealing with trauma are delivered by people with lived experience.

18-year-old, Rico Thai-Richards from Waltham Forest, has been supported by Peer Power since April 2021. Now a Peer Power Expert, Rico spoke about his experience:“Before I came to Peer Power, I had no faith in myself or others. Where I come from it’s every man for himself. People told me that I couldn’t do anything. Peer Power believed in me. I did not trust the police, health or NHS, now I see that they are all people trying their best and are working with us to create change.“I have met people from all walks of life and feel what ambition and success is like. Peer Power helped me develop how I speak in public and gain confidence. I secured the roles of Youth Mayor and Deputy Chair of the London Youth Assembly and got involved in local and national politics. I have been afforded to work with incredible originations such as Project Zero, The London Recovery Board and YIAG (Youth Independent Advisory Group). I hope I can now help other young people make change.

“My plan for the future is helping people from all ethnic backgrounds, no matter what religion you believe in no matter what disability you have people are people.”Another Young Person supported by Peer Power said:They say that in unfortunate circumstances you meet the best people and I wholeheartedly say this is true. Anne-Marie saw something in me that I hadn’t seen in myself. Peer Power has been there for me through good times and bad. It has helped me to be my best self.”Hosting the event for 60 guests was Baroness Usha Prashar who spoke to the eight young Peer Power Experts celebrating the charity’s achievements since it was launched at the House of Lords six years ago.

The charity’s Chair, Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly, explained how Peer Power has gone from strength to strength, connecting with more than 500 young people, with 92% going into education, training or employment within six months. It has delivered workshops, training and coaching to over 5000 professionals, partnering with organisations such as NHSEI London, Ministry of Justice, Youth Justice Board, HM Inspectorate of Probation, and a range of youth charities. Since 2016, peer power has grown from a staff of 2 to a team of 20, and its patrons include Lord McNally, author Simonetta Hornby and Baroness Usha Prashar.

Anne-Marie Douglas, Founder and CEO of Peer Power, said: Now more than ever, young people need to be heard. Peer Power is here to harness the potential of young people who have suffered trauma, neglect, abuse and crime by providing support, building trusting relationships, and helping services improve. By instilling empathy, listening and taking real action, we can tackle ongoing institutional abuses of children in our care. We are proud of what we have achieved, but it does not stop. We must learn to demonstrate empathy more as a society and empower people to have a voice.

“It was an evening of gratitude to all those involved in Peer Power’s success to date. I was moved by the stories from young people as to how Peer Power had impacted their lives and would like to thank them also for all they do to create system change for their peers as young leaders and positive role models.”

Charity Today | 8 July 2022

A firefighter from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service is recovering at home and being supported by The Fire Fighters Charity, after suffering a sudden heart attack midway through a fundraising challenge.Firefighter Sean Ratcliffe, 52, was joined in June by his colleague Jason Haste, 40, as the pair took on a challenge to climb the 20 highest peaks in the UK in under 20 days.Both men trained hard for the two-week event and had passed their operational fitness test as firefighters, just weeks before.However, after completing the 15th peak and resting for the night in Aviemore, Scotland, Sean collapsed without any warning or prior symptoms – with paramedics confirming he’d suffered a heart attack.


Jason, who’s a Crew Manager at Havant Fire Station, said:“If we’d been up a mountain at the time, we’d have been in big trouble.“We decided between us, especially given I was doing the walk for mental health reasons, that I should continue the challenge while Sean was recovering. I’d drop in daily for a few hours to see him, and continue with the final peaks.”Sean, who is a wholetime firefighter at Gosport Fire Station and an on-call firefighter at Eastleigh fire station, is thankfully now recovering well, but it’s meant he’s facing a long stint off work and – having reached out to The Fire Fighters Charity for support with both his physical and mental health before – he knew exactly where to turn for help.The Charity supports serving and retired fire and rescue service personnel, their dependants and other eligible members of the UK fire services community, with their health and wellbeing throughout their lives.


Sean said:“I’ve actually had help from the charity three times. The first was around 1999 when I broke my wrist. I went to Jubilee House, the charity’s centre in Cumbria, and it was absolutely brilliant, it really helped my recovery.“I then got in touch in 2008 for assistance, after I lost everything – including my house.“And finally in 2010, we lost two firefighters in the Shirley Towers fire. I was quite involved, but it wasn’t until a year later that I realised I was really struggling and I was referred to Harcombe House, the charity’s centre in Devon, for a recuperation break in 2011 – just to get away.”Sean is now being supported by the charity’s Welfare Team as he faces time off work to recover at home.Jason, meanwhile, completed 19 peaks in under 14 days but decided to leave the last one to instead help Sean return to his family as soon as possible. Together, and with the support of another colleague, Scott Avery, they’ve raised over £1,800 for The Fire Fighters Charity.

Charity Today | 7 July 2022

A decade ago, my cholesterol level was found to be raised at 6.1mmol/L but my GP thought my overall risk of heart disease was low, as I was active and otherwise healthy.  Years later, I discovered how wrong this was.  I became increasingly worried as my cholesterol level was going up despite making the changes to my diet and lifestyle.   When my sister had a stroke and no underlying cause was identified, I read about the genetic condition ‘Familial hypercholesterolemia’ (FH) on HEART UK’s website.  I applied the diagnostic tools to myself, and I came out as possible FH.  Just before the first Covid lockdown in 2020, I saw a different GP and presented my results.  My latest cholesterol had come back as 7.8mmol/L with ‘consider FH’?

As a woman being diagnosed and untreated at 60, meant I already had a 50% chance of having cardiovascular disease (CVD).  To avoid delay, and whilst waiting for a lipid clinic appointment, I was prescribed statins.  My lipid consultant agreed with this as my dad died at age 61 and my paternal grandfather had also died of a heart attack at age 45.    Further blood tests discovered that I also have a very high Lipoprotein (a) – another genetic blood fat related condition that further increases your risk of CVD.

I used HEART UK’s website and Helpline several times during the pandemic to learn these conditions.  It helped me to prepare for my medical appointments and to manage my condition. The HEART UK Helpline nurse was sensitive and receptive, and I trusted her expertise and knowledge of cholesterol and heart health.  She reassured me that I was asking the right questions and I was seeing the right person.  I do not have children but discussions about genetic testing have commenced. Meanwhile my adult nephews and nieces have been advised to get a cholesterol test. Thankfully I am now on treatment and my risk of CVD is now significantly reduced.  I am so grateful for HEART UK and the help and support they gave me.

HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity, is the only charity in the UK dedicated to saving lives by helping people avoid heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia caused by high cholesterol. It is estimated that close to half of UK adults have raised cholesterol which can lead to heart disease; it can be an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) which runs in families.

The charity receives no Government funding and relies on the generosity of people like you to help support their vital lifesaving work. You can supoort by donating your preloved clothes here:

For further information about HEART UK see their website

HEART UK | 10 MAY 2022

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