Late last year, we launched our ground-breaking Change the World Fund. The initiative offered a £5,000 and specialist mentorship to allow students to affect real change on key issues the care about. Today we’re talking to one of the Change the World Fund finalists MA Law student Annabelle Rose who is passionate about improving young people’s mental health.
My Change the World idea was to create an app focused on improving mental health and wellbeing. It would be a place where like-minded people could play games, use a 24-hour chat service, listen to podcasts and write a journal. The app is based on the idea that individuals in their late teens and early 20s prefer texting over speaking on the phone, especially about mental health issues.
Unlike market competitors such as the Samaritans, app users would not be obliged to contact anyone. However, support lines like the Samaritans would always be linked to the chat service if they need immediate support.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen 125 lives plus being lost a week due to suicide, with higher figures resulting from self-harm. I wanted to create a fun, safe place where people could escape the current climate by playing games and listening to podcasts chosen to decrease stress and increase mental wellbeing.
Throughout the pandemic, many of my friends and I have struggled with losing employment and mental health issues, alongside trying to complete a master’s. The highlights of our week were playing quizzes and interacting through online games. This inspired the idea of setting up an app where people similar to us could go to relax.
I felt very privileged to be a finalist in Change the World. The competition has encouraged me to set up a website; one day, I’ll hopefully have the funds to create the app. The feedback I got from the judges was very detailed; commenting on a colour scheme that I could implement to promote mental health on my website – this was very encouraging and helpful.
I applied to the Change the World Fund because I was excited there was a new initiative allowing young people to make their voices heard on important issues.
I chose to study at ULaw as it is the only institution that combines an MA with the GDL (now the PGDL). I believe this academic advantage will set me apart from other candidates in pupillage applications as I wish to pursue a career as a barrister.
My MA workshops helped when pitching my idea as you receive training on how to moot. The general discussions on the topics you have prepared for also increase your confidence in public speaking.
My passion for social change started at King’s College London, where I studied the ethics of migration and UK border control issues in 2016-2018. I learnt that society tends to form strict ideas about migrants and, in turn, combine the economic migrant with the refugee in their heads. Because of this, along with other factors such as racial prejudice, there are many instances of wrongful detainment at UK borders. Between 2012 and 2017, the Home Office mistakenly detained more than 850 people, some of whom were living in the UK legally and were recognised as economic migrants.
This experience led me to apply for and complete a pro-bono placement with Amnesty International through ULaw. I was tasked with writing a letter of rights to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on behalf of families in need of medical supplies at Moria refugee camp in Greece. The camp was constructed for 3,100 people; however, the inhabitants now exceed 20,000, thereby requiring change.
This prompted my application to No.5 Chambers, where I shadowed an immigration barrister and contributed to an asylum appeal case. I spotted an inaccuracy in the Home Office’s claims against the defendant after researching the case. The barrister raised my point in her submission and the appeal was granted.
Social change can come in various formats, from international matters to domestic, covering a whole range of issues. I hope to utilise the skills I’ve developed from studying philosophy and law to encourage and promote social change throughout my career.
The most prominent issue that affected myself and other people I know personally was the lack of employment and, as a consequence, mental health issues. This is why I chose to focus on this topic.
Discover more about the ULaw Change the World Fund.