Overcoming mental illness to inspire young Guides earns Amy a YOPEY nomination

Amy Adderley, nominated for a YOPEY Award, 2015
Amy Adderley, nominated for a YOPEY Award, 2015

A Bedford teenager who has tackled mental health issues by volunteering with the Girl Guides is up for a youth award.

Eighteen-year-old Amy Adderley began to experience anxiety and panic attack when she was just seven, which developed into mental health problems. Through her voluntary work with two guide units in Cranfield has learned to cope with her condition and strived to help other young people along the way.

Now she has been nominated for the Atlas Young People of the Year awards or ‘YOPEYs’.

Amy’s issues began when her father developed long-term health issues. She and her sister became young carers, supporting their mother in caring for their dad.

Amy, of Loveridge Avenue, Kempston, said: “I found it hard at home coping with my own health and my father’s, and found the Brownies, and then the Guides, to be a safe haven for me.

“Now I help organise activities for the younger girls and when I see them enjoying the activities and looking up to me, it gives me a sense of worth – which I lack.

“I have an interest in performing arts and dancing which also helps me cope. I have choreographed events for the Guides and Brownies and performed in an international Scout and Guide jamboree which has helped to boost my confidence.”

Two years ago Amy took part in a mental health ‘peer education’ training scheme which gave her the confidence to give talks within Girl Guide units in the Bedford area, but she hopes to expand this to local schools and other youth organisations.

She was nominated for a YOPEY by GirlGuiding’s Assistant Division Commissioner for South Beds Amanda Buckmaster. She said: “Amy has some health issues which make it very hard for her to get out of the door sometimes. But Guiding seems to have given her the support and strength she needs.

“She has to push herself to get out of bed most days but with the help of her family she is becoming a strong independent young woman.”

Mum Susan Bartlett, who also volunteers with the guides, said: “Amy can suffer from depression but does not let it stop her and pushes herself to get on with everyday living.

“She completed her Young Leader training with the Brownies and then decided she would like to become a leader at Guides as this age range interested her more. But she still helps at Brownies.

“She has been very active in building bridges between the Brownies and Guides.”

She added: “Amy strives to be a good leader and wants be a good role model to the younger girls.”

Amy, who has missed out on some education due to her illness, is planning to return to studying in September and hopes to do a psychology degree in the future.

The YOPEY Awards recognise young people who make a positive contribution to their community.

To nominate a young person for an award, go to yopey.org or write, enclosing a stamped-addressed-envelope, to YOPEY, Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road, Stradishall, Newmarket CB8 8YN for a paper entry form. Entries close on August 17.

YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25, who should live, work or study in Bedfordshire. But they do not have to meet all three conditions. They could go to school, college or university in Beds but live elsewhere and vice versa.