Blog

All posts in Shell Twilight News

An Ambassador’s Mental Health Journey

 By Declan Macdougall, Shell Twilight Basketball Ambassador, SSF Wellbeing Ambassador

 

Tell us a bit about your mental health journey…

I suffer from anxiety and random panic attacks that vary in severity. When I started Twilight, I suffered quite badly from these but didn’t really make it known and I bottled it up and this resulted in me not being able to control my emotions very well. I would show up to Twilight with my headphones on and not really try to connect or interact with people, I would take fouls personal and I tended to storm out a lot. The Twilight staff realised this was becoming a bit of an issue. They worked with me and spoke about different ways of being able to control my emotions better which helped a little but not much on a personal level. Then the ambassador program was brought up and I was instantly up for it, the idea of being able to spread my knowledge and love for basketball but I did have my doubts because I’m not very good at communicating with people I don’t know. Coming up to the ambassador residential I worked closer with the Twilight staff and managed to distill my fears and anxieties about the residential. I was a bit nervous as first but as the first night went by and everyone laughing and enjoying themselves I slowly came out my shell and the ambassador weekend opened me up, I didn’t feel scared or not included. From then on, I Have been able to be more out going and confident in my actions, to the point that I even got myself a college placement. I still suffer from anxiety and my panic attacks but now I am able to control them better and slow things down.

 

What impact do you think physical activity has on improving mental health and well-being and why?

I Think sport has a huge impact on mental health, even just the interaction between athlete and coach can be amazing for them. Some may only get out the house very often and going out to play a sport may be the only social interaction they get that day. I know from experience from many times I haven’t wanted to speak to anyone that even just interaction with teammates and coaches can make a world of difference. In that regard I feel that physical activity can do wonders for your mental health and well-being.

 

What do you think are the key factors facing young people relating to mental health and wellbeing?

Being aware that everyone’s issues are different. A method you use to help someone might not help others and it’s important to try to help the young person in the way they feel most comfortable.  It requires patience, there isn’t a quick fix when it comes to mental health, people are going to have good days and going to have bad days and you need to support them.

 

What are the things that you do that help improve your mental health and well-being?

When I am having an off day and I really don’t want to communicate with people I usually turn to basketball because everything about it is natural and makes me feel at home. If I’m having issues I sometimes will put headphones on and listen to music and write in a journal I have, sometimes I write about my problems and sometimes I write stories. I spend time with family or friends and try enjoy their company as much as possible. I spend time self reflecting and thinking about how I can slow down for when I am overthinking

 

What would you say has had the biggest influence on your mental health and well-being?

Basketball being one of the biggest influences in most aspects of my life has affected my mental health and well being. It has always been my escape from a bad day or if my anxiety has been bad lately, I can always find a safe place in a basketball court. There’s something about the pound of the ball against the hardwood that is oddly calming. Going to college has had a huge impact. I’ve had to learn how to do a lot of things for myself and travelling five hours a day gives me a lot of time to self reflect.

 

What more do you think can be done to highlight the benefit of sport and physical activity to mental health and well-being?

Do more workshops on emphasising talking about your mental health, like making it a more common thing to do and reduce the stigma around talking about mental health. Get more young people to do the workshops to show that these things aren’t just an adult thing. I feel like it’s something that needs to be talked about in schools more so that people have more opportunities to speak to someone or to recognise where they may need help with things. I feel that we really need to do everything we can to reduce the stigma of talking about our mental health.

 

For more information on either of our ambassador programmes contact Ross Hutton – ross@ssf.org.uk

Shining a Light on Mental Health

 By Shell Twilight Basketball staff and participants

Amanda Hiddleston is 1 of 20 Scottish Sports Futures’ Wellbeing Ambassadors who helped to plan and deliver a mental health and wellbeing themed basketball tournament at Oriam in Edinburgh on Sunday 7th April.

The event saw over 250 young people come together from Shell Twilight Basketball sessions across Scotland as far afield as Dingwall and Stranraer.

Amanda tells us about her thoughts from the event:

The tournament on Sunday was a great opportunity to let other young people know how much sport and physical activity can play a massive role in helping improve mental health and wellbeing.

In my role as a Wellbeing Ambassador and as a member of the steering group for the event I was excited to be part of the planning process and see things develop from our initial meetings and from our residential in March where along with 20 other Wellbeing Ambassadors we developed mental health and wellbeing workshops and ideas for the event.

It was amazing to see our plans come to life! On the day I delivered workshops on the topics of stress, pressure and social connection which all allowed young people to come and have fun in an interactive workshop whilst learning about the topics and taking away the message that sport can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.

The tournament was just an amazing fun filled day which challenged me to grow in confidence and step outside my own comfort zone. It was so rewarding and encouraging to see the young people who attended grasping the theme of the event, having fun and taking away the message that sport and physical activity can have positively impact mental health and wellbeing.

 

The Shining a Light on Mental Health tournament was made possible through funding from the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity Fund, read more about it here.

Case Study – Lochgelly

Shell Twilight Basketball sessions have been delivered every Friday in Lochgelly since June 2013, to provide young people in the community with a safe place to take part in positive physical activity. The session brings people together to improve confidence, life skills and overall wellbeing. There is a real need in the community for activities like Shell Twilight Basketball. Lochgelly and the surrounding area are deprived and really suffer from issues with youth disorder. Shell Twilight Basketball offers a unique approach to engaging with young people, our sessional staff integrate youth work and sport to ensure participants are at the heart of the programme.

A participant who recently became a volunteer coach, had this to say about the programme;

“I think the Shell Twilight Basketball session helps the community by getting kids out of the house, getting them off the streets and bringing them into a safe environment.”

Our session leaders are vital to the success of our programmes. For a lot of the young people we work with, our sessional staff may be the only positive role models in their lives. Our ambassador programme gives the young people the opportunity to develop their skills as a leader and role model. Two participant volunteers commented on the importance of role models and what they do to positively influence at their session;

“The first role models I ever looked up to were my coaches at Twilight.”
“I feel that I’m considered to be a role model as I’m always cheerful, I try to engage with everyone and give them someone they can talk to if needed.”

In Lochgelly we have a group of volunteers who have grown through the programme and developed their skills to lead the session every week, completely unassisted. Over 20 young people attend the session weekly and it continues to attract new participants. One of the volunteers had this to say about the programme:

“Shell Twilight Basketball has helped me become a good role model and a good coach. They have given me opportunities to further my career e.g. Ambassador programme, UKCC Level 1 basketball coaching award and coaching my own team.”

These amazing participant volunteers are at the centre of everything we are trying to do to hand our tried and tested initiative back to the community. The Ambassador programme really has allowed us to create the next generation of Shell Twilight Basketball leaders who are more confident, more skilled and more aspirational. Alongside their volunteering commitments, each of the volunteers have recently moved on to positive destinations including college & employment.

“Shell Twilight Basketball has helped me at college as I take new skills learned from other coaches and take them to college and use them in my classes. It’s helped me be more confident with other people if I don’t know them as much. Shell Twilight Basketball has encouraged me to keep thriving to gain my career in sport (basketball) and to help me gain qualifications in this college year.”

We are really proud of the outcome in Lochgelly and the young people who have stepped up to ensure that the session can continue on a self-sustaining basis. The Community Use team have been fully supportive of the session and continue to offer a free space every week to make sure the young people in the community have something positive to do. We hope to see more of our sessions follow suit to change the lives of more young people across Scotland for years to come.

Shell Twilight Basketball Outstanding Achievement Award

By John Bell, Shell Twilight Basketball Mentor

When I first started working with Declan he was a member of the Irvine Twilight session and the existing staff members had picked him out as someone I may wish to keep an eye on, I was told a story of Declan throwing a bottle of water during a session that was very close to hitting a youth worker that was present, I was then also told of the possibility that he may also storm out because of his problems with controlling his anger and emotion.

I was to witness this very quickly.

Orrin, the coach at Irvine, and I had a chat about a way forward, Orrin having done some previous work with Declan on his issues agreed that us working as a team and being united on what was acceptable behaviour from Declan but also letting Declan know what he could expect from us was the best way forward.

Declan did show immediate signs of responding but was still having occasional incidents of anger and was still disrupting the session on a less frequent basis, progress was slow but myself and Orrin were determined to get the best from Declan and his obvious love of Basketball.

We were then asked by Twilight Basketball to speak to the session about the up and coming ambassador programme, Declan was immediately eager to be involved, this however presented us with a big problem, with Declan still having occasional bursts of anger we did not want other young people at the session seeing us to be rewarding or condoning this type of behaviour.

The same night three members of staff met to discuss the situation, such was the debate that it was taken to a vote to see if Declan would be put forward, and the vote fell in Declan’s favour by two votes to one.

Orrin and I told Declan the following week that we would be willing to put his name forward as long as we saw an improvement in behaviour at the Irvine sessions.

To his credit Declan began to improve on a weekly basis and was indeed put forward for the ambassador programme.

It became apparent very quickly on the weekend ambassador residential at Kilgarston that we had made the right choice in giving him another chance. Declan was now mixing with strangers and also actively encouraging others to take part. As a worker it was joy to see, it was decided that weekend that I would become Declan’s mentor.

 

I sit here writing this today and can honestly say the transformation in Declan’s behaviours and attitudes both within our session and outside of it is nothing short of phenomenal , this young man when I first met him could justifiably be described as withdrawn, angry, prone to outbursts, unwilling to listen and extremely difficult to work with. (I should know my job is a youth worker with North Ayrshire Council).

Today I would describe Declan as helpful, willing to take part, a team player, a good communicator, a delightful person to be around and a vital part of the Irvine Wolves Twilight Basketball Session.

Declan has actively helped me to deliver Educational timeouts on subjects ranging from LGBTQ+ rights, the white ribbon campaign against domestic violence, bullying, bigotry and racism.

He now attends the Glasgow Rocks college programme in Glasgow and is an independent self-assured young man, we love having Declan at our sessions and really admire the hard work he has put in to transform his life.

The last thing I will say about this nomination is this, when I first attended the session some of the young people wanted Declan removed, 14 months later and the group democratically and by a huge margin voted for Declan to receive this nomination.

Declan is more than worthy of this award.

 

Just in case Declan should not win this award I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all the wonderful staff at Twilight Basketball and Scottish Sports Futures who have actively supported us in this whole process and have been a constant source of knowledge and understanding to our specific needs.

 

Ambassador of the Month

We are delighted to announce that the Ambassador of the month award for September goes to Irvine’s Declan MacDougall.

“I am thrilled to have won the award and feel even better about bringing hopefully the first of many to Irvine as I continue to achieve my goals and help at my Twilight session”. Declan MacDougall

Declan’s Mentor, John Bell, had this to say; “I believe Declan to be the perfect example of what the ambassador program can achieve.

He has went from being withdrawn and very selective about his interactions to being involved and open with everyone in the session. It is my firm belief that this has also helped Declan excel outside of the sessions and now become not only an active participant in this basketball group but out in the wider community. Declan is a credit to himself, his family, this session and the Shell Twilight Basketball/SSF program”.

Shell Twilight Basketball Coaches/Mentors Orrin McNaughton, John Bell along with Declan MacDougall and fellow ambassador Jamie McDougall.

Shell Twilight Girls Boost Confidence With Sport

 By Demi Mitchell, Shell Twilight Basketball Coordinator

Growing up can be a difficult time for most young females; dealing with different emotions, coming into contact with new people and different personalities, and recognising their own bodies are going through a change. Learning how to mentally and physically cope with this can be a challenging time.

This, for me, is why encouraging young girls to be physically active is so important. The Shell Twilight Girls sessions have provided the girls with a fun and active environment, where they can come and express how they feel in a safe space with the young person at the heart of the session.

Educational time-outs allow youth workers and coaches to break down the barriers for girls who want to be active and open up the discussion of topics such as bullying, body image or self-confidence that may be an issue for young girls in a fun and active way.

 

Shell Twilight Coordinator Demi with coach Chanelle and participants from Shell Twilight Girls

Shell Twilight Coordinator Demi with coach Chanelle and participants from Shell Twilight Girls

 

The benefits girls gain from being physically active are endless; from feeling good about yourself and boosting your confidence, to having a group of friends that you can express how your day has been. This is why every girl should have the opportunity to be active and to help them keep their mind and body healthy, as well as making themselves HAPPY!

Every female taking part in sport no matter what level is 100% an inspiration to every other female they come into contact with and should never forget the impact they could have on another female.

Demi and Chanelle at a Shell Twilight Girls session

Demi and Chanelle at a Shell Twilight Girls session

Shell Twilight Basketball Introduces Ambassador of the Month Award

We are delighted to present our first Shell Twilight Basketball ‘Ambassador of the Month Award’ to Stranraer’s Connor Pomroy.

The award is aimed at recognising the amazing work our young people are doing in communities all over Scotland.

Connor had this to say on Friday night,

“I am shocked to be ambassador of the month as it is the first to be presented in Stranraer.  It goes to show that I am showing the positive attitudes that people notice and praise me for.  Even with the changes to the session and it being quiet just now I will continue to push myself and others at the session to reach my potential and hopefully continue to be recognised and nominated for future awards”.

Connor’s mentor Chris Muir said,

“Congratulations Connor, you deserve the award for all the hard work and dedication you have shown during the sessions.  With this as a boost, I hope it drives you to achieve more in both sport and your personal development.  This award shows that you have the ability to recognise your strengths and increase your confidence.  I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you”.

 

Shell Twilight Basketball’s first Ambassador of the Month Chris Pomroy from Stranraer

Ambassadors in Action at the 2018 Glasgow European Championships

 

The European Championships, hosted by Glasgow, was an incredible event showcasing world class talent from all over Europe. It was also an opportunity for our Shell Twilight Basketball Ambassadors to get involved volunteering.

The GoLive! Zone at Glasgow Green witnessed foot traffic in the thousands over ten days and our ambassadors traveled from as far as Nairn, Glenrothes, Stirling and Dalry. Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) were scheduled to deliver basketball coaching on 4 occasions which the ambassadors helped out at, showing young people how to dribble and shoot the ball. The GoLive! Zone was always packed with young people and their families trying out badminton, tug of war, multi skills obstacle course and football. Ten young people from all over Europe descended on Glasgow as part of the NOMADS project (Europe wide volunteering program). Our ambassadors gelled really well with our visitors and helped them feel more at home during their time in Glasgow.

 

“It was a fantastic experience where I was able to meet people from other Twilight areas. It also allowed me to reach out to people from all areas of the globe and interact which was an experience I won’t forget” Declan Hannah (Dalry Ambassador)

 

“My experience at Glasgow Green and the European Championships was amazing. I got to develop my communication skills. I was also lucky enough to see the swimming on the Wednesday with other members of the SSF team not just from Twilight which allowed me to meet new people and see what they do with their part of SSF. During the time at Glasgow Green a fellow Twilight ambassador and I were interviewed for BBC Children In Needs November show about what we do and what we were doing at the green. That’s an experience I will never forget” Bryanne Ford (Nairn Mentor/Ambassador)

Shell Twilight Basketball Creates Sustainable Partnerships

Working in partnership to create sustainable, sport for change programmes and build stronger, more positive communities.
Case Study: Levenmouth.

 By Martyn Horsfield, Shell Twilight Basketball Senior Programme Coordinator

Sustainability continues to be an ambitious goal for any sector, let alone Sport for Change, but Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) have put a real focus on achieving this through their Shell Twilight Basketball (TBB) programme. Significant progress has been made towards creating a long lasting impact within the communities we work in across Scotland. For a long time, sessions have required continuous investment to ensure their longevity, but, as a result of effective partnership working and the upskilling of passionate coaches, we now have sessions that need very little in means of support and are fully self-sufficient.

A great example of a sustainable session is Levenmouth. As one of the longest standing sessions in the TBB programme, Levenmouth has received significant investment to engage local young people in positive, physical activity. The session originally took place at Levenmouth Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre in the heart of Leven, and is where the vast majority of investment was spent. In order to run a successful basketball programme, you need a good facility with the necessary equipment. The other key element of success, that required investment, was quality sessional staff who could lead the session, and act as positive role models for the young people in the community. Due to the nature of leasing a facility and retaining good quality members of staff, the only way to continue the session in this form would have been to continue investing year in, year out. Therefore, with a view to making the session sustainable, change was inevitable.

The first consideration was sessional staff and how we could reduce the cost, or better still, eradicate it completely. This would rely heavily on a volunteer workforce with the skills and knowledge to lead this initiative and continue to have an impact on the young people and the community as a whole. The volunteers would also have to be invested in the session and the aims and objectives that go with it. With this in mind, in addition to the main programme, the TBB Ambassador programme was utilised to develop the next generation of TBB leaders. SSF already had success in volunteer recruitment with their Active East programme, and experience of upskilling young people in the sport for change concept through the Education through CashBack (ETC) programme. We used this learning to provide tailored training and learning opportunities to aspiring young leaders.

Shell Twilight Ambassador Rodizza leads a Twilight session

Shell Twilight Ambassador Rodizza leads a Twilight session

 Over three years, Levenmouth has had a total of ten young people join the ambassador programme, who now take the lead every Friday night at their TBB session. The young people were supported through the process by a mentor, giving them valuable feedback, and providing opportunities to further learn and develop. Their mentor, Callum Knox, has been involved in the programme since its conception as a sessional member of staff, and is looked up to as a positive role model. Who better to support the young people to develop the skills and confidence required to coach than the person employed to coach them in the first place? Since Callum started his mentoring role, he has cut back his involvement at the session and currently visits on a monthly basis to check in with the ambassadors and ensure the session is running smoothly.

Shell Twilight Ambassadors Rodizza, Rachel, and Jordyn with head coach Callum Knox.

Shell Twilight Ambassadors Rodizza, Rachel, and Jordyn with head coach Callum Knox.

During the initial period of investment, the TBB programme is free to young people between the ages of 11 and 21, to remove participation barriers for young people from areas of deprivation. However, in order to keep the programme free at the point of delivery, we would have to come to an arrangement with a local sports/community centre with the correct fixtures and fittings for basketball, which is no easy task. When reaching out to local partners, Fife Council’s Community Learning and Development team engaged in conversations around the value of the programme in the local area, and what they could do to support the session. They agreed to include TBB as part of their youth provision for two hours on a Friday evening, and provide a space in a local community sports centre for the session to continue. The centre is primarily an indoor football hall, with only two poor quality basketball hoops fitted to the side walls to create one cross court. However, the centre is right in the heart of the community, has a large space for young people to participate in physical activity, and we were offered the use of the facility for two hours every week at no cost. In order to improve the suitability of the facility for us, and improve its use within the community as a whole, we decided to look into fitting basketball hoops. This would be a one-off investment that would allow the programme to continue for the foreseeable future, with no further costs.                                                            

Various partners have been involved in the process, including St Andrews University, who kindly donated two heavy duty, swing out basketball hoops, wall brackets, and backboard fittings, to support the work being undertaken within the community. Levenmouth Community Sports Hub, which is made up of various local partners including Active Schools, Sports Development, clubs, and residents, offered £172 to contribute towards the fitting of the hoops. The remainder of the cost was covered by the session participants’ fundraising efforts. Thanks to the support from partners and participants, we now have a fully operational hall that provides TBB sessions to young people in the Levenmouth area at no cost. This was a significant piece of work but really lays the foundation for sustainable, sport for change programmes across the country, and an example of what effective partnership working can achieve.            

Girls Night In

Last week Shell Twilight Basketball held its first ever Girls Night In at Glasgow Club Drumoyne in Govan. The night brought together participants from the Govan and Wellhouse girls-only sessions, for an evening of celebration and empowerment.

The girls came together for a basketball tournament with each team consisting of a mixture of participants from each of the two sessions. Following the basketball tournament, the girls were given the chance to try out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu run by World Champion, Erin Wilson, and football, with Rangers Women’s and Girl’s Academy Manager, Amy McDonald, followed by some snacks and goodie bags. 

The event was organised by our Shell Twilight Basketball Coordinator Preeti Jassal, along with Shell Twilight Ambassador and volunteer Amanda Hiddleston, who took an active role in supporting Preeti with the planning and running of the event.

Funded by Spirit of 2012 and Cashback for Communities, the Shell Twilight Girls initiative was launched in early 2018. Based upon the Shell Twilight Basketball programme, combining sports with education and life skills, the Shell Twilight Girls programme is aimed at encouraging inactive girls into sport in a safe and friendly environment.

For more information about Shell Twilight Girls, or any of our other programmes, click here.