A team of ten try to tackle mental health issues for young children

‘Pouch’s Magical Worry Cheeks’ is a children’s book aimed at 5-8-year-olds, to support them with every day worries. The rhyming story aims to provide a vehicle for children to talk and a platform for the adults in their lives to explore these worries with them.

This journey began back in May when 10 colleagues from across PeoplePlus were all brought together and were asked to take part in The Prince’s Trust, Million Makers corporate challenge. The aim of the challenge is to come up with an idea that will turn £1,500 of seed funding into £10,000 within 6 months; with all money raised going back to support the invaluable work that The Prince’s Trust does. This was when Team Impact was formed.

The reason behind the name is they wanted the book to have an impact and make a direct difference to the lives of people, which also ties into their company’s and the Prince’s Trust ethos.

PeoplePlus also has a trademarked schools programme called ‘YouCan’, which excels in utilising peer support and builds confidence, self-esteem and resilience through a range of activities with children as young as 5 years old. The programme enables young people to address difficult topics in a safe space, exploring common themes to provide coping strategies and support, which was the foundation for this fantastic story.

A lot of the children the team work with were expressing real fears and anxieties that were affecting their mental health. It was concerning to see so many children feeling alone and unable to share their everyday worries with people around them. The story was created to help them recognise and vocalise these worries, so they would not feel as anxious or alone.

Research undertaken suggested that the top 5, primary school-aged worries are:

  1. Friendships
  2. Not being good at things
  3. Family worries
  4. Low self-esteem about how they look
  5. Not being as sporty as their peers

It was then the team created ‘Pouch’.

Pouch is a school hamster with magical qualities. Set on a typical school day, you meet 3 children who are all carrying the weight of the world in their school bags. As their worries grow, so do their school bags. Pouch suddenly begins to talk and helps the children reduce their worries by talking them through and instilling a positive ‘YouCan’ mentality. As he does this, his hamster cheeks start to grow and the children school bags shrink in size. The book addresses worries around looks, exams, not having friends and not fitting it, which came out strongly through Team Impact’s own research.

The book has had some fantastic feedback from parents, carers and teachers saying they have been able to have really meaningful conversations with their children and learnt a lot about what has been worrying them. One parent told us that her daughter reads her ‘Pouch’ book every night and then uses the activity pages at the back of the book to talk about her day. The activity pages were designed to initiate conversations and enable children to have a voice about their own worries.

So for anyone thinking how much is the book and how do I get a copy? The book is £7.99 and costs £2.49 to post, again all money raised goes straight to The Prince’s Trust charity.

There is a Facebook and Instagram page called ‘pouch’s magical worry cheeks’, where you can follow a link to purchase your copy or click the link here to be directed straight to PayPal.