Based in Atherton, the Willow Project primarily work with young people (aged 6-19) and their families to explore and improve the underlying causes and emotions that evoke Mental Health issues and concerns.

The project works towards increasing self-esteem and confidence by looking at coping strategies, building resilience and developing aspirations for the future through one-to-one counselling, therapeutic group work and strategies that help young people cope with how they feel about life and their experience of it.

The Willow Project has been supporting vulnerable young people in the community since 1991 and is open 4 days and evenings every week to provide tailored approaches to support the needs of the individuals concerned. The project also works in local schools and with partners including Young Carers and Wigan Youth Zone.

The impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental and emotional health was enormous. The Willow Project saw a 22% increase in referrals, with many young people experiencing depression, low moods, anxiety, self-harm, destructive behaviours and in too many cases, thoughts of ending their own lives.

Having to deal with a growing and lengthy waiting list of young people experiencing poor mental and emotional health issues, the Willow Project was inundated with phone calls, texts and emails. Many young people were reporting feeling trapped and isolated and experiencing increased feelings of desperation.

Lockdown increased pressures and restricted young people socially. It highlighted and ignited family pressure pots and removed vitally important support systems of friends and extended family members. The strain of which materialised in increased cases of domestic abuse and substance abuse.

The Willow Project quickly adapted to how it provided vital support to help young people and parents, delivering a ‘Live Chat’ facility, telephone counselling, check-ins, ad hoc mentoring and even ‘Live’ events.

The Willow Project continues to support and benefit young people experiencing poor mental health, loneliness and isolation by providing someone to talk to and share their fears with. Although the project isn’t able to change their circumstances, it can influence and support them.

The Willow Project has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Community Contribution Award to be presented at Forever Manchester’s Birthday Party on Friday 18th March 2022.

The award is given in recognition of a person or group of local people who have supported their community over a long period of time, delivering sustained and meaningful impact for many, doing something extraordinary.

Click here for more details about our Annual Birthday Party.

Date added: 18th December 2021