We had our official launch this week, which feels like a huge milestone. It was a lovely evening, and I was particularly struck by the enthusiasm of the many therapists who came to share their experiences and our vision.
Friends, colleagues and supporters were able to explore the building, in which we have tried to capture a feeling of fun and creativity as well as a spaces for respite and relaxation. We are aware that the children and young people who come to our centre are experiencing great difficulties and distress, but we believe passionately in the potential for creativity, as well as kindness and empathy, to enable them to find a way through.
This centre has been a dream, for both of us, for a long time – both to create a centre where children and young people can be at the heart of their own service, and also for therapists to experience a sense of community and collaboration, to support each other and explore the intricacies and delights of our work. Young people’s mental health is an area which is widely misunderstood and often sidelined, and we have both experienced the sense of isolation which is often felt by workers in this field. We have begun to build our own small support networks, and it was wonderful to glimpse the wider community of small groups and individuals, and to have a sense of the inspiration and enthusiasm which bubbles up when we all come together.
My priority, now that the painting and decorating is finally finished and our client work is starting to gain momentum, will be to plan our programme of peer-to-peer training events, to begin to consolidate and expand this network of colleagues. I’m also very excited about the prospect of recruiting associates to join us directly in working in the centre.
All of our visitors were given a flag and a gift tag on their arrival, and invited to contribute their ideas and feedback. This is a small selection of the wonderful, encouraging comments we received:
“Super excited – The place looks fantastic!! I WANT TO PLAY…”
“Fantastic! Warm, welcoming, professional.”
“So inviting. What an expansive place for a child or adult to be.”
“Magical, mysterious, delightful.”
“I hope that Apple Tree becomes a busy, friendly, supportive hub for an exciting, developing network of ‘us’ who are passionate about improving the well-being of young people.”
We hope so, too.