Why Bloom can make a difference to young people in Greater Manchester and beyond

Lauren Quigley is Bloom Engagement Officer working in the North of England. She is responsible for engaging schools and colleges in her region to participate in Bloom, a programme which gives students aged 14-18 the tools they need to build their resilience and better protect their mental health. Here Lauren talks about her own mental health challenges and why Bloom can make a real difference to young people in Greater Manchester and beyond.


I grew up in Greater Manchester and went to a very high-pressured grammar school where I was extremely academic. Although I was never pressurised by my parents, the environment itself meant that I put that pressure on myself to succeed. I often think back on those days and what it would have been like if I’d had access to Bloom during my school life, I could have learnt more about resilience and how important it is to work on your own mental wellbeing while dealing with social pressures, not just academic ones.

At university, I studied Spanish and English and during my third year of university, spent time living and working in Spain. On my return to university, I found the switch to final year a difficult transition and, over time, I started to isolate myself more and more from university and social situations. It was a very tough period in which I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. It got to the point where I could barely construct a sentence for an assignment because I’d become so consumed by the stress and pressure around me. In the end, I left university without finishing my degree because I knew I had to focus on my health.

When I look back, it was the right decision for me because I was so unwell, but it was difficult to come to terms with at the time. I had always been so academic and strived for perfection, that I ended up feeling like I had failed myself. One thing I often reflect on was the lack of support that was available to me in school at that time, particularly around preparing for life’s transitions and how to cope with disappointment. If you aren’t given the skills or resources to deal with these things, they can engulf you and it can become very difficult to see a way forward. Had Bloom been available to me at school, I would have felt better equipped to create a personal support network. I would have also learned how to handle my inner critic and how to move through the world with curiosity rather than giving so much attention to perceived pressures.

I’ve since taken a very difficult period in my life and turned it into something positive. By opening up about my own experiences, I’ve helped myself and others to recognise that this isn’t a weakness – we all have different stressors and pressures in life, and it’s how we cope with these set-backs and seek help along the way that makes a difference. I believe that early prevention is essential, and that’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about promoting Bloom in schools and colleges across the North of England. When I speak to young people who have done Bloom, they always say it has allowed them to look at things differently; that understanding ways to cope with stress and life’s challenges is something they will carry with them forever.

A core part of our programme involves working with teachers to build the foundational knowledge to do what they do best: securing the best outcomes for their students. Our Training Associates work closely with teachers throughout delivery and help to develop their confidence in running the programme for their students. It’s this co-delivery element of the programme that really sets Bloom apart from any others I’ve come across. We’ve already trained 1,700 teachers across the UK and reached 100,000 young people.

It feels like I’ve come full circle and I’m delighted to be working in the area I grew up in as Bloom Engagement Officer responsible for Greater Manchester. I take pride in being involved in a programme that gives young people in the area the mental health support they need. To support our work in the area we’re hosting a series of events between 22-26 November 2021. To name a few, we’ll be providing online Bloom introduction sessions and live resilience workshops to schools and colleges, as well as launching our first teacher network event!

To find out a full list of events, please visit our Bloom in Greater Manchester page – we would love if you could join us.

If you’d like to learn more about how Bloom can support your school or college please visit our page on Supporting young people and do share our Resource Library with the young people in your life.

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