The initial ambition of BRIT was the creation of an inspirational centre of excellence to support and inspire young adults who are facing physical and mental health challenges.
Our vision was shared by over 55 charity Chief Executives who partnered with BRIT, offered to act as Advisors, and championed the need for a Centre where they would either run bespoke residential courses, provide specialist staff and/or refer their young adults facing adversity and trauma.
THE BRIT CENTRE CONCEPT
From the outset of the founding of BRIT, Inspirational Figures from sport, music, the arts and business began to champion our work as Ambassadors and Mentors. They offered their time to support and improve young adult mental health by acting as BRIT Ambassadors or to volunteer as BRIT Mentors and spend time inspiring young adults if we could secure the funding to build a Centre.
YEAR-LONG TOUR TO UNDERSTAND YOUNG ADULT MENTAL HEALTH IN THE UK
To understand the extent of the need to support young adults suffering from physical and mental trauma, in 2012, Phil (our Founder) set off on a year-long 2012 mile tour of the UK to raise awareness of BRIT and to meet educational institutions, staff, carers, charities and young adults.
Concurrently, the tour would provide an opportunity for young adults and staff from their respective charity or educational organisation to join him each day as he walked in their county. Phil walked 2012 miles throughout every county of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and the Isle of Man. He was hosted by universities, colleges, schools, special needs schools and charities, and joined on each day’s walk by staff and students. Lord Lieutenants and representatives from The Emergency Services and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces supported Phil in almost every county.
With his spinal cord injury, one mile is the equivalent of three to four miles for someone without a spinal cord injury. Phil completed the equivalent of 310 marathon distances in 331 days.
Unexpectedly, the 2012 mile BRIT Challenge became a catalyst for students, young adults and staff to join Phil each day and use the opportunity to talk about their mental health. Tens of thousands, many of whom had disabilities, took part to raise awareness of young adult mental health and add their voices to strengthen and support the need for BRIT.
THE NEED FOR BRIT TO COLLABORATE
The level of support for BRIT and our vision for a Centre was extraordinary. Between 2013 and 2015, we conducted land searches and continued to secure strong strategic partnerships; however, due to Phil’s unexpected ill-health between 2016 and 2018, and as the driving force of BRIT, it became increasingly challenging to convert the political and strategic will into an operational plan capable of turning the vision into reality without him.
SHARING OUR CENTRE CONCEPT & COLLABORATING WITH OVER THE WALL
“The initial ambition of BRIT was to create an inspirational centre of excellence, with the resources and facilities necessary, to support, inspire and motivate young people who have physical and mental health challenges. The vision was supported by over 55 charities who had partnered with BRIT and whose Chief Executives offered to assist in an advisory role; the level of support was extraordinary.
Over The Wall (OTW) www.otw.org.uk is a national children’s charity that provides free therapeutic residential activity camps for children and their families who are experiencing serious illness and chronic health challenges. It is the ambition of OTW to build an iconic, all weather, state of the art facility for use, as a national centre, by all children’s charities across the UK.
Between 2016 and 2018, Phil’s health had considerably deteriorated and at the same time, new opportunities arose that OTW felt would lead to the prospect of a dedicated site being built. Whilst Phil’s health had started to improve in 2019, we wanted to seize an opportunity to join forces and maintain momentum.
Having had many detailed discussions, we were convinced that a collaboration on the building of a national centre would stand the best possible chance of success, whilst maintaining the integrity and aspirations of both charities. There was a natural synergy between our organisations and as BRIT was founded to work in support of charities; this collaboration embraced that intent. The initial BRIT vision remains at the very heart of OTW’s plans to build a national centre.
The Charities Commission supported our collaboration and agreed that BRIT could amend its Governing Article to reflect that BRIT would focus solely on non-residential support to improve young adult mental health in the UK. I am delighted that BRIT’s vision to collaborate with charities to support young adult mental health and fitness by delivering annual inspirational challenges is receiving such tremendous support.”
Over The Wall
“I am one of over 50 charity Chief Executives who not only believe in BRIT, but has also offered my support and experience as an Advisor”.
Alison Cox MBE
Founder and Former Chief Executive
Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY)
THANK YOU TO OUR CENTRE CONCEPT CHARITY PARTNERS
All the charities who partnered with us for the planning of the BRIT Centre of Inspiration were invited to continue their support and partner with Over the Wall (OTW). Phil invited the Chief Executives of over 55 national charities, who had stepped forward as Advisors to BRIT, to offer their continued support to OTW for the Centre collaboration build.
We are grateful to all the charities who partnered with BRIT to shape, guide and support our Centre vision.
Kevin Mathieson, CEO of OTW, invites charities and corporations to find out more, continue discussion and explore potential collaborations with OTW.
The collaboration with OTW meant that BRIT would focus solely on non-residential inspirational support to young adult mental health in the UK. Changes were made to our Governing Article and subsequently approved by both our Trustees and The Charities Commission.
BRIT'S FOCUS ON YOUNG ADULT AND STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH AND FITNESS
Our Vision is to improve the mental health and fitness of young adults and students throughout the UK by delivering the BRIT Challenge; an annual inclusive feelgood February fundraiser with three aims;
Support student mental health, fitness & wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
Deliver inspiration to young adults, and destigmatise mental health, with the support of BRIT Ambassadors
Raise vital funds for local, regional and national charities
The mental health of young adults has never been so important, particularly with the recent impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. We are striving to unite the education, sport and charity sectors and inviting every university, college, specialist college and Students' Union to embrace the BRIT Challenge, enter teams and encourage student and staff participation.
Over the past two years, almost 180 university and college teams have taken part in BRIT Challenges.