From education to employment

Sporting icons, educators and students unite to support young adult mental health at every UK college and university

#TheBRITChallenge and #BRIT2021Challenge 

With the impact of COVID-19 compounding existing mental health issues and many young adults feeling isolated, BRIT, The British Inspiration Trust (@Brit_Challenge) has launched the BRIT 2021 Challenge to improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK.

BRIT is striving to unite the education, sport and charity sectors to ensure that every UK university, college, student union and student can take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge – an inclusive feel-good fundraiser to improve mental health and fitness and raise money for charities providing vital support to students and young adults. 

The Committee of University Chairs (CUC), Universities UK (UUK), the Association of Colleges (AoC), ColegauCymru, Colleges Scotland and the National Union of Students (NUS) are all partnering with BRIT to promote the BRIT 2021 Challenge and encourage their members to take part. It is hoped that this collectively powerful approach will ensure over five million Higher Education and Further Education students and staff have the opportunity to participate.

The BRIT 2021 Challenge follows the success of a similar event last year – The BRIT 2020 Row Britannia Challenge – which saw almost 100 institutions take part to improve young adult mental health and fundraise for BRIT’s partner charities. BRIT has received overwhelming support from universities, colleges and student unions to deliver an annual inspirational and inclusive event. This year’s challenge is supported by an array of sporting ambassadors including Dame Katherine Grainger DBE, Sir Steve Redgrave CBE and Sally Gunnell OBE.

Every UK university, college and student union is invited to register to take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge, enter teams and encourage student and staff participation; either on campus or at home. All funds raised will be shared equally between;

  • Student Minds
  • Nightline
  • PAPYRUS – Prevention of young suicide
  • The Charlie Waller Trust
  • The British Inspiration Trust

The BRIT 2021 Challenge is designed to be completed by individuals working as a team to cover the 2,021mile distance, between now and 1 July 2021, by either hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding).  

BRIT is supported by leading experts in young adult mental health, a wealth of British sporting icons, chief executives of national charities, education and sport governing bodies and universities and colleges throughout the UK; pre-launch, over 30 institutions have already pledged to take part.

BRIT delivers inspiration by inviting British sporting icons (BRIT Ambassadors) to support their local university or college and encourage, inspire and thank students and staff for taking part in BRIT’s Challenges.  These BRIT Ambassadors are current and retired Paralympians, Olympians, sports personalities, adventurers and explorers; all of whom understand the challenges, trauma and adversity that young adults face in their lives.  British sporting icons are encouraging fellow sports personalities to join the BRIT Family and unite in support of young adult mental health including Sir Steve Redgrave CBE DL; 

“It has been my pleasure to support BRIT for many years as they have strived to support young adult mental health throughout the UK, raise vital funds and deliver inclusive opportunities for young adults to improve their mental health and fitness.  Supporting young adult mental health has never been so important and I applaud BRIT for their visionary approach to collaborate with education and sport governing bodies and organisations.”

BRIT has three aims;

  • Support student mental health, fitness & wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Deliver inspiration to young adults with the support of British sporting icons
  • Raise vital funds for BRIT’s collaboration of mental health charity partners

Dee Caffari MBE, Record-breaking Yachtswoman and BRIT Ambassador, said,

“As a former teacher I am only too aware of the difficult stage in life the young adult years can be.  Mental Health Charity Reports are showing that the impact of COVID-19 is compounding existing mental health difficulties including depression, increased feelings of anxiety and isolation, loss of coping mechanisms and loss of motivation. Providing support to young adults is vital.

From the moment the charity was launched in 2011, BRIT has been determined to collaborate and work closely with other charities. Over 60 charity CEOs have supported the BRIT vision and aims by providing advice or working in partnership.  In addition to the five mental health charities who will be beneficiaries of funds raised through the BRIT 2021 Challenge, BRIT is championing the services of numerous frontline mental health charities including The Matthew Elvidge Trust, Samaritans and SHOUT. This is to ensure young adults are aware of the support and services available to them.

BRIT does not employ any staff to reduce overheads and replies upon sponsors, gifted professional services and volunteer support.  

Phil Packer, BRIT’s Founder and Non-Paid CEO, said;

Driven by the consistent rise of mental health challenges faced by young adults, we will do everything in our power to support young adult mental health in the UK and, by raising vital funds for our charity partners, save lives.  To enable BRIT to deliver, I implore businesses, philanthropists and sponsors to unite with us and increase our UK-wide impact on improving young adult mental health and fitness. Together we have an opportunity to be collectively powerful.”

Sir Steve Redgrave CBE DL, said:

“I urge athletes from every sport to join the BRIT Ambassador family. This will ensure that each of the 450 UK universities and colleges has a champion to inspire as many of their students and staff as possible to take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge.   This Call to Action goes out to all current and former Olympic and Paralympic Athletes and Sports Personalities to help increase participation at their chosen university or college.  

“By joining the BRIT Ambassador Family, current and former Olympic and Paralympic Athletes and Sports Personalities can be collectively powerful in supporting young adult mental health throughout the UK and have an extraordinary impact on increasing team participation and national awareness.”

Rebecca Adlington OBE, Olympic Gold Medallist, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the mental health challenges that young adults face; including feelings of isolation and loneliness. I wholeheartedly support the BRIT vision to support young adult mental health and am inspired by their BRIT 2021 Challenge to improve young adult mental health and raise vital funds for charities that deliver vital support.”

Naomi Riches MBE, Paralympic Gold Medallist, said:

“Charities that support young adults need help to raise vital funds and this is why BRIT exists; to unite in support of young adult mental health.  I know Student Unions and students have amazing energy, enthusiasm and determination when it comes to raising funds for great causes. BRIT’s 2021 Challenge is a 2021 feel-good fundraiser that enables students to take part wherever they are; on campus or at home.  It’s a great way of improving mental health and fitness, raising vital funds and having fun.”

Helene Raynsford, Paralympic Gold Medallist, said:

“Positive mental health and resilience are so important for young adults and this is heightened with the additional challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic; there has never been a more important time to deliver inspiration.

To improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK, the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) are delivering annual UK-wide BRIT Challenges and inviting British Sporting Icons to unite, join our BRIT Ambassador family, and encourage, inspire and increase young adult participation in their BRIT 2021 Challenge.

 I encourage all athletes, current and former, to join me and make the BRIT 2021 Challenge an inspirational event throughout the UK.  There are 450 universities and colleges in the UK and if each has a BRIT Ambassador to champion their student participation, we would have an extraordinary UK-wide impact on both supporting and improving young adult mental health.”  

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