Who Are We?

Philosophy We Strive For

Andy & Matt Smith are brothers who were placed into the care system by social services after neglectful parenting from their biological mother and father.

In our experience many young people often ask professionals “What do you know?” this is where our service differs from others as we have lived a life within the care system and without a mum and dad for the majority of our lives.

Combined with our professional experience and qualifications we are able to offer that shared life experience and offer advice and guidance based on real life and not just from a text book. We find this resonates with young people because we as adults are able to open up to them they in turn open up to us.

Smash Life is also creative on its approach to mentoring and getting young people to open up. It is limiting to just sit in a room and ask a young person to just “talk about it” and this can be oppressive for some young people.

By bringing sport, music, games, walks, and trips to the Mentoring we have found they create better results and the young people actually enjoy and look forwards to the sessions. We now also offer an NOCN accreditation which can be completed alongside our mentoring service!

Smash Life is also an award winning company having won the Mayor of Shrewsbury Gold Award for the Overall Winners in the Youth Category 2019, been nominated for the National Community Organisation Award for AGE at The National Diversity Awards 2020 in association with ITV news and have been mentioned in Telford & Wrekin Council Outstanding OFSTED report in 2020. Telford & Wrekin was the first Council outside London to go from Requires Improvement (2016) to OUTSTANDING! and the only Council in the West Midlands and North West to be OUTSTANDING!

Skills We Teach

Communication 100%
One to One engagement 100%
How to deal with trauma 100%
Gaining a Positive Outcome 100%
Building Resilience 100%
Exploring Solutions to Problems 100%
Identifying Positive Activities 100%

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What we do

Find out how Smash Life can help you:

Inspirational Talks

Catering to young people and professionals, our Talks focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Abuse, Complex Trauma and Safeguarding and are designed to help professionals understand children and young peoples' behaviour, change approaches and perceptions and bring a reality to practice that can’t be obtained through books. Young people will receive a hard hitting, factual story that will help them to understand that they are not alone with their own trauma's and can build up their own skills and resilience, following the positive example set by the Smash Life brothers.

Learning for Professionals

Catering to young people and professionals, our Talks focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Abuse, Complex Trauma and Safeguarding and are designed to help professionals understand children and young peoples’ behaviour, change approaches and perceptions and bring a reality to practice that can’t be obtained through books. Young people will receive a hard hitting, factual story that will help them to understand that they are not alone with their own trauma’s and can build up their own skills and resilience, following the positive example set by the Smash Life brothers.

Mentoring

Our bespoke and unique shared life, one to one mentoring sessions are for young people needing a positive role model, guidance and a listening ear.

Aimed at young people

Our bespoke and unique shared life, one to one mentoring sessions are for young people needing a positive role model, guidance and a listening ear.

Group Work

A safe space for young people to listen, discuss, share and learn about difficult topics or issues that have been identified by you or them e.g. drugs, alcohol, masculinity, gang culture, future aspirations and promoting positive / healthy relationships.

Positivity

A safe space for young people to listen, discuss, share and learn about difficult topics or issues that have been identified by you or them e.g. drugs, alcohol, masculinity, gang culture, future aspirations and promoting positive / healthy relationships.

Training / Consultation

We are able to use our experience of growing up in the social care system and working within it to provide advice and guidance so that your organisation is a young person centred service. We are available to deliver bespoke training courses for you and your staff team.

Training / Consultation

We are able to use our experience of growing up in the social care system and working within it to provide advice and guidance so that your organisation is a young person centred service.  We are available to deliver bespoke training courses for you and your staff team.

Team Members

Andy Smith

Managing Director of Smash Life

Andy realised he had a passion to engage children and young people and started working with young people as a play leader in the summer of 2000. During this time Andy had moved in with supportive lodgings carers and was studying for a BTEC in Sports Science at Shrewsbury College of Arts And Technology. Andy quickly established the importance of hard work and also had two other jobs at college working at a local restaurant as a kitchen porter and at Perfect Pizza.

Following the completion of his college course Andy Moved to Chester University to study Sports Science. Andy admits the University lifestyle and his avoidance, lack of support from the trauma he suffered as a child in care led him onto a path of self destruction. Andy failed his first year at University, but enrolled onto a Geography degree. This is where Andy flourished and realised he could not be a victim of his past and graduated with a 2:2 BA hons degree in 2006.

Following the completion of his degree and bringing an end to four years living in Chester Andy secured a job as “Support and Guidance worker” working for the Leaving Care Team at Shropshire County Council. This was where Andy would really shape his skills and enhance his desire to work with the most vulnerable young people in the community.  Andy felt that this job gave him a sense of purpose and that the young people he supported were inspired by his journey in care and positive approach. During this role Andy was also successful in landing an internship as an advisor for the Associate Parliament Group for looked After Children offering advice around policy and change for young people as well as championing the Young Persons voice.

Andy has since worked for local councils, and the NHS leading and supporting various health projects targeting at enhancing the wellbeing of children, young people and adults. Andy particually enjoyed working on a project called Telford Green Gym where he worked on a day to day basis introducing adults to exercising in green spaces enhancing their community as well as their own wellbeing. Andy admits this also had a positive effect on his own wellbeing working in a calm and therapeutic environment.

Andy then ran a project in a community in Telford, being a positive role model as a community Development Worker in a community that had been rocked by CSE and ASB. Andy found this is where he came into his own, working with different age groups, cultures and learning how to effectively educate, inspire and bring people together promoting community cohesion.

For the past 14 years Andy has worked extensively with vulnerable young people and adults, managed staff and volunteers and has recently joined forces with his brother Matt to form Smash Life utilising both their personal and professional experiences to inform, educate and inspire young people and fellow professionals through shared life mentoring, talks, training, group work and consultancy.

Andy has always maintained that working directly with young people, his love of sport, football and living a healthy lifestyle with a positive attitude has been the main constant in his life and something that acts as a form of therapy. Through Andy’s love of sport and exercise and Matt’s love of Music, Smash life are able to offer vulnerable young people a positive diversion.

In 2019 Andy alongside his brother Matt won the Shrewsbury Town Council Mayors Award for ‘making a difference to young people’ as part of Smash Life’s outstanding work within the area. Smash Life have been nominated for the National Community Organisation Award for AGE at The National Diversity Awards 2020 in association with ITV news and have been mentioned in Telford & Wrekin Council Outstanding OFSTED report in 2020.  Telford & Wrekin was the first Council outside London to go from Requires Improvement (2016) to OUTSTANDING! and the only Council in the West Midlands and North West to be OUTSTANDING!

Having sold out their Smash Life Launch Event in 2019 the Smith brothers have gone onto to be booked by Universities, Private Foster Care Organisations, Safeguarding Conferences, Schools, Colleges, Charities, Pupil Referral Units, to talk to CEO’s, managers, professionals, students and young people around the UK. These powerful talks have a clear aim, to improve practice amongst professionals and inspire the next generation of young people who may themselves suffered early childhood traumas.

Watch out for public Smash Life Talks which you can buy tickets for and see it for yourself.

Matt Smith

Director of Smash Life

Matt started working with young people as a playleader for Shropshire Council in the summer of 2000 all whilst still coming to terms with his own childhood abuse. Despite failing college because of his chaotic home life Matt then went onto achieve a 2:1 BA honours degree at Leicester De Montfort University in Youth & Community Development. Whilst at university and as part of his course Matt worked in a community project supporting adults with mental health illness’s and then at Leicester YMCA within a Lifeskills project. During this second placement Matt was offered a job at Leicester YMCA working as part of the community education division with NEET young people aged 16 -25 years of age within a hostel setting. Matt was nominated and won a ‘Making a Difference’ award by the very young people he worked alongside during this time.

Matt then successfully secured a job back at Shropshire Council and was employed as a youth worker managing various youth clubs and projects in schools within the Shrewsbury area. Matt also worked as a drugs and alcohol educator for the charity Choices, where he went and spoke/delivered workshops in many secondary schools, colleges, youth clubs to young people and adults about drugs and alcohol.

Matt has also supported The Care Council Crew in Shrewsbury, a project set up to listen and advocate for the voices of young people within the care system as well as facilitating various trips and award evenings. Matt has also been commissioned to carry out research on young people’s views and opinions on growing up in the care system and the service they have received by Shropshire Council.

Matt was then moved into a role during the economic recession to one of a Targeted Youth Worker within the Early Help Safeguarding Team, working with young people and families with complex needs from 2011 -2019. This role within Early Help main aim was to stop the breakdown of families so that young people were not placed into the care system. Matt’s role involved going into families homes, working alongside young people, parents and social services by providing a robust plan as a lead professional to empower and make positive changes and oversee and bring in other professionals expertise if they were needed. In the event of concerns being raised or the situation for a particular family getting worse an in depth knowledge of the Safeguarding system was required in order to keep young people safe.

In 2019 Matt left Shropshire Council to begin work alongside his brother Andy at Smash Life. Smash Life then went onto win the Shrewsbury Town Council Mayors Award for ‘making a difference to young people’ as part of Smash Life’s outstanding work within the area. Smash Life have been nominated for the National Community Organisation Award for AGE at The National Diversity Awards 2020 in association with ITV news and have been mentioned in Telford & Wrekin Council Outstanding OFSTED report in 2020.  Telford & Wrekin was the first Council outside London to go from Requires Improvement (2016) to OUTSTANDING! and the only Council in the West Midlands and North West to be OUTSTANDING!

Having sold out their Smash Life Launch Event in 2019 the Smith brothers have gone onto to be booked by Universities, Private Foster Care Organisations, Safeguarding Conferences, Schools, Colleges, Charities, Pupil Referral Units, to talk to CEO’s, managers, professionals, students and young people around the UK. These powerful talks have a clear aim, to improve practice amongst professionals and inspire the next generation of young people who may themselves suffered early childhood traumas.

Watch out for public Smash Life Talks which you can buy tickets for and see it for yourself.

For the past fourteen years Matt has also managed and performed as a singer/guitarist in various event party bands and has gigged extensively throughout the UK and abroad at various corporate and private occasions. In 2019 Matt’s current band Sonic Boom won ‘The Best Wedding Band in the West Midlands’ by Event Entertainment.

In 2012 Matt released his first solo EP of his own original music under his musical persona ‘Sonnetsmith’. Matt continues to write songs under Sonnetsmith and will continue to release them alongside future Smash Life videos – so watch this space!

Rich Shaw

Mentor

Richard is the latest addition to the Smash Life Team. His working background has been about as varied as they come including stints overseas working in the tourism sector and even positions in broadcasting, but his passion has always been with helping others leading him to a career spanning 15 years working on youth engagement projects and outdoor education.

A part time self-employed graffiti artist Richard first met Andy in 2012 when they collaborated on a youth project giving young people the chance to try their hand at graffiti art and take ownership of a community mural which still proudly stands in Arleston, Telford. Following this they have both worked together on youth sports projects, taken part in charity challenges and worked with countless young people across the borough in a range of capacities.

“I knew straight away that Smash Life was something I wanted to be involved with” says Richard, speaking about the company.

“Andy’s and Matt’s approach with young people has always been inspirational and we hold similar values and a proven history of building a rapport with individuals who are struggling in life and do not readily access support.”

“Smash Life’s ethos is simple, always be positive, always support and do not make judgements – try simply to understand what people are going through.”

“I find the Smash Life mentality so powerful, not just for those I support, but also for my own life.  Since becoming involved I am much more self-aware, more at ease with difficulties I have experienced in my own past and much more motivated to be the best person I could possibly be – a mind-set which I try to share with all the young people I work with.”

Speaking on what other attributes he brings to the project Richard is keen to emphasise the importance of having goals and positive past times to help you in life

“I am heavily involved in competition sport and using my body to its full potential empowers me to look after it. I am also a huge advocate of nature-therapy and engaging with the wilderness for well being”

“Teaching people of all ages to respect nature and to get outside and be active are about the best things you can do to look after your physical and mental health – while I cater for the needs of every individual I work with I like to encourage this positive message above all others.”

Kevin Bartlett

Head of Media / Mentor

Kevin is the Smash Life Head of Media / Designer and is responsible for the logo design and branding of the company along with the design of our website, apparel, flyers and everything else media related.

An experienced musician and professional drummer, Kevin has 27 years of playing and touring experience with various bands. In 2014 he was fortunate enough to be able to play a short tour of the USA culminating in an appearance at Mike Portnoy’s (ex Dream Theater drummer) Progressive Nation at Sea and then the UK festival Tech Fest with his progressive metal band “Eumeria”.

Kevin has also appeared in Modern Drummer magazine and is a professional mixing / mastering engineer and producer. He currently mixes and masters for Chicago based Youtube sensations “Camille and Kennerly” AKA “the Harp Twins”. Kevin is also the drummer in the “Sonic Boom” band along with Smash Life Director Matt!

Drawing on his studio experience Smash Life are able to offer young people an in depth studio course or “studio experience” whereby they can visit a local Studio and under Kevin’s guidance, learn skills both in physical audio engineering and recording software’s that will enable them to write, produce and record their own music, as well as offering drumming masterclasses and drumming lessons.

Experiencing severe bullying during his school years, which at the time led him to suffer anxiety, become withdrawn and fake illnesses just to stay at home, Kevin was also pretending to his parents that he was attending school when in fact he was “skiving” to avoid the pain he was experiencing at the hands of his school bullies.

As a mentor Kevin is able to draw from this and other traumatic experiences during his adolescent years to offer a unique insight into how trust issues from a lack of confidence and fear can corrupt your thoughts, make you believe that you can’t succeed and ultimately leave you with massive insecurities. Kevin is able to meet young people, share his story and offer solutions with them that he found helpful to help identify their issues and together with them, work towards ways to overcome them. Many young people who have met Kevin have been inspired to go on to become musicians/drummers, finding that confidence within a positive activity!

Lee Murad

Filmographer / Mentor

Lee Murad is an experienced film maker from the North West of England who has been producing films across the UK and abroad for the last twenty years. Lee is also very experienced working in the wedding sector and most weekends you can find him travelling across the UK to film those special moments for newly-wed couples. Lee first started out producing his own short films and music videos after he graduated from Liverpool University where he completed a Film and Media studies degree.

 

Lee has always had a great passion for film and says: “I always wanted to be able to share my experiences as a film maker with young people to pass on my knowledge and to inspire them. When I was given the opportunity to work in the education sector I found myself working alongside children from a primary and secondary school age. I was asked to produce films on topics like Anti-Bullying and Drug & Substance misuse from a young person’s perspective and it really gave me a sense of purpose”. Lee also ran a film festival at the end of a school year which showcased young people’s own work on the big screen. Over a ten year period over six hundred short films were shown at a local cinema to give young people the full cinematic experience. Lee has found working with children and young people such a rewarding process for him personally and it has allowed young people to express themselves positively through film, given them a chance to act or direct and to help give some of them self-confidence through a positive activity.

 

Lee cites directors Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola as some of his favourite film makers and is an avid film goer. Lees filming style has been described by those who have booked him as cinematic and emotive as he uses a range of cameras, drones and angles to get those all-important shots.

 

Lee is available to be booked specifically to come into your educational setting and produce short films with young people/professionals on a range of identified issues. Lee can also be booked to film a special event or occasion (e.g. An Award Ceremony) for you and then edit the footage afterwards so you have a professional memory of it captured forever.

Janine Evett

Counsellor

Janine qualified as a counsellor in October 2020 and continued her learning journey as a psychology undergraduate. Her interest in mental health comes from having her own mental health struggles, which peaked after the birth of her second child in 2014.

This was when Janine’s transition really began, as she developed a hunger for working in the helping profession. Janine became disillusioned by her job in the city of London, leaving it behind to work in a secondary school as a teacher assistant to children with special educational needs. Janine did this while also embarking on a 4-year training course to provide talking therapy to adults.

Having had counselling herself, Janine understands that the idea of it can feel strange and daunting, but she also knows that if you can commit yourself to changing, you will. Janine believes counselling works, because it gives you the time and space to explore your problem in a safe, judgement free and private environment. Janine has found the most skilled counsellors are not necessarily those who have the most experience or training (although these things are also important), it’s those who show the most warmth and enable clients to feel truly accepted – so this is what she aims for in her practice.

Janine’s service is in a relaxed, informal setting. This is what she says about her approach;

“Counselling is also a bit like someone holding up a mirror against your problem. This can be challenging as it can reflect some painful truths, but it also helps bring you clarity and process the difficult thoughts and feelings that weigh on you. Nothing can change the past – but talking things through can help you to make sense of your story and heal old wounds that affect you in negative ways in the present.

Despite the benefits, many people are put off by the idea of speaking to a supposed ‘expert’. Part of this is because of the way counsellors are depicted in the media as unfriendly, unapproachable and judgemental – which is absolutely the opposite of what counselling is about! I am passionate about offering a service that is flexible, tailored to your needs and helps to bring real, meaningful change.”

Janine works in an integrative way, which means she draws from a number of psychological approaches with the aim of walking alongside you and supporting you as you uncover your story.

Gone are the days when you have to fear the ‘men in white coats! So, I encourage you to take a brave step towards feeling better. Why not reach out to me today? You can contact me through Smash Life, or feel free to browse my website at bedrockcounselling.co.uk – I look forward to hearing from you”

Janine

Jane Evans

Mentor

Jane has had quite a varied work life and started work at 16 in an office, moving on to selling houses for many years.  She is a firm believer in lifelong learning and that it has to be at the right time for you. So, at aged 30 after having two children, Jane went to University to study Health & Social Care and volunteer for a small charity supporting families with under five-year olds.

She then went on to work at “Stay” and supported young people (16-28 year olds) who were previously homeless, to live in supported housing and then their own tenancy, teaching life skills and developing confidence to live an independent life. Jane then went to work in Community Education at TCAT, this supported her belief that people are ready at different times in their life to study and that we all study differently and its “okay to try different things”.

While at TCAT Jane started the process with my husband, to become a Foster Carer for Telford and Wrekin Council, and has been approved as such for over 7 years, offering a loving home to children of all ages.  Fostering was something Jane always wanted to do.  She felt like they had the emotional capacity, space and love to offer a young person a supportive and stable home. She and her husband are still in contact with children who have left, and have a teenager with them now, who is very much part of the family. 

It’s been wonderful to be able to offer these young people opportunities and to be their greatest supporter and advocate when needed.  It is not always easy, but Jane firmly believes that children living  “in care” deserve the same opportunities in life and she enjoys helping them reach their potential. As a Foster Carer Jane has been able to undertake short courses in bereavement, working with birth parents, safeguarding, drug and alcohol awareness and many more.

Jane’s previous longer-term role was working with Young Carers in Telford, where she ran the weekly Youth Club for over four years which provided respite for around 40 young people each week and offered activities in the holidays (which they ordinarily wouldn’t have been able to attend due to their caring role).  She loved working with the young people, seeing their progression over the years and supporting them through difficult times.

While working with the Young Carers, Jane first encountered Smash Life and loved the sound of the work that Andy and Matt were delivering.  Jane says: “I didn’t hesitate in booking them to deliver a motivational talk at first and then to deliver a day’s workshop to the young people.  I was blown away by the sessions they offered and loved the warmth, fun and understanding they offered the group.  The kids really looked up to them.  I am hugely excited to be part of the team”.

In her personal life, Jane is a parent to three teenagers and has two crazy cocker spaniels, so can often be found deep in mud on a dog walk. She has competed in the “Walk a 1000 Miles” challenge for a couple of years; enjoys baking, socialising with friends and sometimes crafting. Jane has spent many years at the side of a pitch (both rugby and football) and was a kid’s rugby manager for over 10 years.  In her own time, she is also friends to a young girl who is a carer for her mom.  Jane says: “I take her out to undertake fun activities that her caring role would normally prevent her from being able to do so”.

Billy Jones

Mentor / Coach

Billy Attended Crowmoor Primary School and Belvidere Secondary School in Shrewsbury before Playing professional football from the age of 16.

Billy is currently in his 18th year as a professional Footballer and lists Crewe Alexandra, Preston North End, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland AFC and Rotherham United as the clubs he has played for also playing under some of the top managers in this country.

Billy is a great role model for any aspiring children looking to pursue a career in the sporting arena and is proof that hard work, dedication, sacrifice, realisations and resilience are key ingredients to making your dream a reality.  Billy is often described as Professional in his approach by many ex team mates proving that you have to be put the hard work in if you want to realise your potential.

Billy has been a great help to us since our formation, meeting a number of children, helping with group work,  speaking at events and also giving away freebies to some of the children we support who may need a helping hand,  some extra words of encouragement or guidance. Encouraged and supported by a loving family growing up Billy understands the importance of having someone who “believes in you” and understands how this can be the bedrock to help you succeed.

The values that Billy lives by made it very easy for us to offer him a position as an ambassador as he is someone who lives by the values we promote and certainly engages and inspires many children looking to emulate his journey.

We are delighted to have Billy on board and his experience, advice and guidance will inspire many children and young people.

Sarah O’Neill

Mentor

Sarah struggled through her school years, she left school like lots of young adults. After trying a college course, Sarah instead chose to gain paid employment and began working for a local retailer. Sarah has now worked there for the past 25 years in various roles including as a manager.

Sarah has been a foster carer for a number of years completing courses such as therapeutic behaviour, safe guarding, along with some disability courses. Sarah has learnt that by being open and honest with all children that they will open up, and have those moments of “can I talk to you”

Sarah has spent many years supporting her own children with their sports, driving them around the country for trials and matches in rugby and basketball. A big thing for Sarah and bringing her children up was to ensure she was supportive and that her children have the freedom to express themselves and be able to talk about emotions.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her friends, and family, having game nights, meals out and going on holiday. Sarah enjoys travelling the country to see new places, she has found she enjoys camping, be it in the 1972 VW camper or a tent. Sarah also has recently found her love for baking again.

Sarah believes that everyone should be listened to and deserves to be given the chance to express themselves.

Dee Duell

Mentor

Dee studied Performing Arts at College but soon realised she wanted to be behind the scenes in the industry, so after some consideration went down to live in London at 17 years old to study TV and Film Makeup Artistry.

Dee at 18 years old then went on  to start her successful career in TV makeup working on such shows as This Morning on ITV, being a personal makeup Artist to a well known presenter and also working on hundreds of other shows and projects over the years.

Dee always felt part of her role as a makeup artist was to listen to those that sat in her chair and be “therapist” and loved this side of her job. She was always being told she had such a kind and caring personality and a calm presence.

During her mid-twenties Dee made the move back to Shropshire after experiencing some tough times personally. She was taking some time out and that time turned into years where she gave her all to family life helping to raise her step sons and look after her family.

Dee,  having had her own struggles has always been a big believer in self help and knowing that whilst times may be hard we can always find a way out and there is no shame in asking for help.

Dee is a firm believer in doing the hard inner work to heal and with the right tools and help anyone can turn their lives around.

Dee has worked extremely hard to create a business for herself, taking herself on courses, training and utilizing her previous skills of makeup she has created a makeup and beauty business which she loves. She has a true passion for making people feel good about themselves inside and out.

These last few years have challenged Dee physically, mentally and emotionally but she has come out stronger and more resilient than ever and has developed even more understanding and empathy for people going through hard times.

Dee is incredibly passionate about health and fitness and believes that exercise is something that has saved her in those hard times.

She loves lacing up her trainers and getting out for a run to clear the mind and believes the outdoors is a great old lifter. She also loves getting in the gym to strength train and encourages people to find a form of movement they enjoy, as it is integral to helping cope with stress, release those endorphins and is such a big act of self care.

Dee loves spending her spare time seeing her family and friends, going on walks and exercising.

Just over a year ago Dee came across Smash Life and was drawn to the positivity of the company and their message. She was in awe of what they do for young people.

It started to become apparent that with Dee’s life lessons, empathy and caring personality that being part of the Smash Life team would be a great fit and she literally jumped at the chance to get on board.

Dee believes that all kids should have a loving and caring childhood but unfortunately that isn’t always the case but with Smash Life they can know that there are people who care, want to listen, support them and guide them.

Emma Jones

Admin / Mentor

Emma is excited to be joining us as our new administrative assistant and mentor.

She will be taking on the role to help in all areas of Smash life behind the scenes and assisting in helping Smash life as a company grow and develop. 

Emma grew up in Shrewsbury and after completing her A-levels went to University in Liverpool and studied Sociology.

She spent time travelling and loved exploring the world. Back in Shrewsbury Emma worked in customer service and retail industry which she enjoyed for a time. She moved away from Shrewsbury with her now husband and they both settled in Lytham St Annes for a number of years. 

Emma worked for a Primary school as a teaching assistant and the charity PIP (Play inclusion project) who were involved in helping children with disabilities or learning difficulties to be part of mainstream school life. She loved her role here, being such a big part of helping children who were struggling to make connections and supporting their parents to share in school life.

Emma supported several children in her time working at the charity in different placements of all different ages and made lifelong friends.

Back in Shrewsbury she worked in the retail industry and for a Nursery supporting children one to one with special educational needs. Emma loved being part of the children’s early lives helping with speech, play and working with other professionals.

She supported the children’s parents at a really tough time in their lives and is still in contact with some families now. She was also a big part of the team at the Nursery and working with all the staff, creating children’s activities, play, and progressing and developing children’s learning.      

Emma moved up to Newcastle and Sunderland with her husband for several years after this, taking time to bring up their first child and renovating their home in Shrewsbury in this time. She found this to be a very hard time as a new mum and being away from family, not having the support or the same social networks which has given her huge empathy and understanding of the worlds of many children in care. She found fitness and her connections through this to be a lifeline.   

Emma believes it’s never too late to try something new or change where you want to be.

Her passion for fitness grew even more once she had children and continued to struggle in confidence to get back to where she was, she is now a qualified Personal trainer and postnatal exercise specialist which she is continuing to grow, and hopes will be able to bring this to her mentoring in the future.

In her personal life Emma is a busy parent to two young children with her husband and they have two crazy dogs. So, you can usually find her on a long dog walk out in the muddy Shrewsbury countryside where they live. Emma spends a lot of her time at the side of a footy pitch, cricket pitch or gymnastics cheering on her kids. She believes it’s important to build their confidence and help them learn what they love, learn new skills and be part of a team. Emma enjoys being active in all areas of life whether it be a long walk, running, a bike ride or playing cricket and football with her two kids, they all love nothing more than being outside.

She also enjoys being out gardening in the summer months with the kids, baking and cooking healthy meals with them. Making time for her friends and family is central in her life whether it’s a walk, a meal out or just a simple cup of tea. Emma believes it is so important to find that time and connections when life gets busy.

Ben O’Hanlon

Mentor

Ben is a Telford born lad who, since leaving school in 2012, has had a career in professional football representing England in his age group from u16s to u19s, playing at numerous teams, such as: Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, Crawley Town FC, Harrogate Town FC, Darlington FC, Hednesford Town FC, Stourbridge FC and, most recently, Coleshill Town FC.

When Ben left full time football, he followed his interest of working with children, which he has undertaken in roles such as coaching different sports within the educational curriculum, providing care in residential schools and personal care working 1-2-1 with children of all ages and young adults with differing physical and mental disabilities.

Ben will be able to use the skills he has developed over the years to support our learners in enhancing their social and emotional development; building on his own personal difficult experiences to be able to empathise and give them the confidence that anything in life is possible. Ben likes to enable children to thrive and achieve, through building resilience and working with them to identify solutions to their individual problems.

Watch the Smash Life videos

Feedback

Reactions from some of our recent clients!

“What a breakthrough……he has told you more than he would’ve shared with carers or me on the first meeting”

Social Worker, Shropshire Council

“Andy and Matt give so much to those they work with, they really are an inspiration to so many. Being able to relate to the young people they mentor through their shared life experiences gives the young people someone they can connect with openly. I would highly recommend Smash Life.”

Natalie Prudence, Elite Dance Studios

“Andy has a fresh delivery style to bring home the stark reality of young people in crisis and dwelling on his past experiences he provides many ideas on helping young people to get on the right path to make the best life choices they can. He is an inspiration to young people everywhere who are daunted by the challenges life brings them.”

Helen Ball , Shrewsbury Town Council Clerk

“It was really good, he was really cool and I enjoyed the talk because Matt was funny, down to earth and really relatable, not like some teachers who just talk down to you”.

Pupil, Charlton Secondary School Telford

“I just want to say a massive thank you to Andy for the support I have been given. I can always know that no matter what mood I am in I will always come out of the session smiling. More people should be like this looking out for others.”

Young Person, Mentee

“Incredible. Thank you for sharing your story and advice”

Christine Dunn, Professional

Andy has provided our most vulnerable students with support that they would not be able to access within school. His unique perspective on the issue experienced by LAC has enabled our students to feel secure, in particular during the stressful exam season. This is an excellent example of use of pupil premium funding.”

Teacher, Holy Trinity School - Telford

“I was lucky to hear Andy and Matt present earlier this year and their story must be one that has resonated with me the most. Ever. It has informed our practice at Sandcastle Care and we now weave our therapeutic web into colleges and schools offering trauma informed care training even further. Thank you Andy. Thank you Matt.”

Helen Barton , Head of Therapeutic Services at Sandcastle Care

Thank you for coming along and sharing your story with us all. Such a heartfelt speech that moved everyone in the room, and lots of really important information to take away.”

“ Since I have seen you I am not arguing with the teachers, its good to know someone has been there and understands.”

Young Person, Mentee

“These remarkable brothers suffered long term abuse, humiliation, degradation and shame at the hands of those entrusted with their care. Their life story is one of courage, resilience and determination.. Their promise to use yesterday and their commitment to each other today, is to be the change for children that they should have experienced. If you are looking for conference speakers, mentors for your children these chaps are going to be booked up very quickly after being invited for by the consortium for therapeutic communities to their first conference debut yesterday.”

Sarah Morgan, Specialist Advisor, Education and Childrens Social Care

“Having heard Andy and Matt speak I was able to relate many of the things they said to me and to the young people I work with and could only hope the young people that I work with develop a tiny bit of insight that Andy and Matt have. Their talk and shared experiences show that young people do not need to be a victim of their past and hearing this first hand can only strengthen this belief with the young people they work with. The motivation, humour, honesty and frankness of the talk is moving and exhilarating. I felt a roller coaster of emotions listening but felt even more motivated to support the young people I work with. Since meeting Andy and Matt I have spoken to young people about them – shared their messages and views. Their words have stayed with me and I can relate their experiences to many different situations I come across in my role. I thought I knew a lot “looked after children” , care leavers, the system – but learnt more from this talk than any other course, training or from books.”

Kathryn Packer, Education Liaison Officer

“Just had the most inspirational speech from these lads. Absolutely amazing and they should be very proud of themselves and their achievements”

Matthew William, Care Home Manager - Keys Group

“…really looks forward to her sessions which is such a transformation – when ….has something to think about ….opens up with us here which is such a relief and …also feels reassured about things on her mind knowing ….can talk it over with Matt”

Parent, Mentoring Client

“A big thank you for helping so far on this absolute monumental journey I’ve been on: Anger, Emotions, and Positive vibes so again thank you so much”

Young Person, Mentee

“Our young people really value time with Matt. It’s their space. Their time. Time to express how they feel. Time not to be judged or made to conform. Time to be themselves”

 

Head Of Pastoral Care , The Priory School Shrewsbury

Our Partners

We are proud to work alongside the Council’s, Schools, Businesses and Groups listed below.

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    💥Smash Life💥

We LOVE giving back especially to the children that are currently walking the path we have walked in our childhood 
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When your in care you can feel extremely isolated, alone and marginalised- so it’s so important that we collectively help to create those opportunities that will help children feel a sense of belonging, togetherness and feel they can access opportunities in life
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We were delighted to sponsor T-shirts for the @telfordwrekincouncil virtual school children’s band - a band exclusively for children in care. The children were able to learn how to play a range of instruments, feel part of a band, learn to play together and present their amazing song at a celebration event last Friday 
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We were able to work closely with the group using our musical and brand design knowledge from Matt and Kev to inspire them to play and also help them design their own logo they could proudly wear to the amazing evening put together by the awesome virtual school 
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This is why we do what we do - it’s ALL about giving back 
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“Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Together”
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Smashlifeuk.com
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#sponsorship #music #inspire #cep #givingback #believe #achieve #semh #mentoring #instagood #positivity #posivitivevibes #telford #childrenincare #shropshire #musical #children
    💥Smash Life💥

TEAM

Yesterday we were able to come together with some of our team and connect, learn, inspire and have FUN.
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Our roles often involve us working on our own so it was lovely to come together as a team. We were able to implement some learning, well-being, good practice and Inspiration into our staff training so our team feel energised and ready to go for the last half term of the year.
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We were also able to discuss some interesting new developments that are happening which will mean we can offer more services and impact more children’s lives - we feel privileged that children always report back to enjoy our service so we want to ensure we can offer more and really help be consistent adults shaping children’s lives - we can’t wait to unveil all soon 💙
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It was also lovely to have some FUN with our team - many thanks to Putt Noodle ⛳️ Telford hosting crazy golf for us - well done to Kev in our team who showcased his secret Tiger Woods skills 👏👌
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A huge thanks to Mercure Hotel in Telford who gifted us a meeting room - the hospitality and service was 👌 thank you 🙏 
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Summer Term - Let’s GO 💙
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“Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Together”
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www.smashlifeuk.com 
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#staff #team #meeting #togetherness #believe #achieve #mentors #development #CPD #lifeskills #believe #achieve #leadingfromtheheart #compassion #empathy #care #mindset #aces #approaches #shropshire
    💥Lawyers Who Care 💥
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Last week we had the pleasure to attend the @lawyerswhocare launch in London on Friday Night . A truly inspiring evening where we had the pleasure to reconnect with some of our fellow Care Experienced people from around the UK. 
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Lucy Barnes & Gemma Creamer have created such an amazing organisation  thank you for creating such a beautiful initiative- you really have turned your pain into purpose. Thank you so much for the invite - what an amazing evening 

Lawyers Who Care CIC is committed to breaking down barriers for care-experienced aspiring lawyers by offering mentoring support, advice, guidance and workshops to help children who have had a tough start in life dream believe and achieve despite the hurdles they face. 

Matt had a great evening connecting with amazing CEP humans such as @sophiassocials 
@thecareleaders Chris Wild, @iamjudithdenton and @ricflomusic  who blew everyone away with his music - what a performance, what an energy. Matt commented “I feel more connected to some of my CEP community than I am to people that I have known for 30 + years” WOW
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Here is the lawyers who care website: https://lnkd.in/e4YXSEAD
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We LOVE seeing people thrive in life despite tough starts and experiences- look at you all now - stars shining brightly - it’s lovely that the CEP community  has the respect and space they deserve - we all collectively have so much to offer ⭐️
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#lawyerswhocare #leadingfromtheheart #careexperienced #livedexperience #launchnight #inspire #positivepost #love #mentor #law #inspire #instagood #rise
    💥Smash Life💥

Yesterday our Directors Andy & Matt were in London delivering a Keynote talk for teachers, designated teachers and professionals at the Ealing Council Virtual School Conference. 
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It was lovely to deliver a “Through the eyes of a child in care” talk to remind everyone of the realities many children that are suffering in life face - challenges we face and STILL see - beyond the school gates which will in fact affect their education - it’s SO important that the children feel that they belong and are cared for so they can THRIVE.
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Thank you Karen from AC Education for giving us a platform to inspire and give some key messages that we both believe will transform our educational system from a punitive system to a more relational one. We are very fortunate in our roles that we are able to observe practice and approaches in schools and although we see and celebrate some amazing practice daily it’s still important especially with all the science, knowledge & training available that we challenge not shame and help educate and change some mindsets so people can “lead from the heart” and see the real benefits of a relational approach. 
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We are all in this together. The future of our children, their hopes, dreams and aspirations depend on our collective trauma informed approach. Always think “what would we want for our own children?”
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We will continue to obtain the voice and experiences of many children through our mentoring service - we are able to capture real thoughts and feelings due to having a connection based on mutual trust and a caring approach - many children just want to feel CARED for and a sense of belonging - only then will they realise their potential 
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Remember “connection before correction” 
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“Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Together”
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smashlifeuk.com 
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#mentors #speakers #trainers #support #semh #school #pastoral #traumainformed #approaches #believe #cic #socialcare #education #relational #keynotespeaker #london #ealing #designatedteacher #virtualschool #connection #aces
    💥Smash Life💥

WELCOME to the Smash Life Team BEN
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We are delighted to welcome BEN to our Smash Life Team - Ben has already started and is making a great impact leading from the 💙
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Ben comes into the role on the back of previous experience and employment working with children in roles such as coaching sports within the educational curriculum, providing care in residential schools and personal care working 1-2-1 with children of all ages & young adults with differing physical & mental difficulties.
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Ben will be able to use the skills he has developed over the years to support the children in enhancing their social and emotional development; building on his own personal life experiences to be able to empathise, and give children the confidence that anything in life is possible and they can DREAM and ACHIEVE 
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Ben has also been involved in football since leaving school in 2012 and represented England in his age group from u16s to u19s and playing for teams such as Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crawley Town, Harrogate FC, and most recently Coleshill Town Fc 
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In his spare time Ben loves spending time with his young family. 
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Welcome Ben - time to “lead from the heart” 
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“Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Together”
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smashlifeuk.com
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#mentor #staff #welcome #new #semh #schools #children #givingback #community #wellbeing #mentalhealth #shropshire #football #telford #shrewsbury #pastoral #childrenincare #leadingfromtheheart
    💥Smash Life💥

Smash Life Speaking 

Over the past 7 years we have had the pleasure of travelling across the UK to deliver key note speeches, talks, workshops and training 

When we first were asked we both had the mindset of “why would anyone want to listen to us?” 

BUT then we received feedback and we also reminded ourselves that MANY children we still care for through our company are still living that battle we had in our childhood EVERY single day - so YES it’s up to us to educate and inspire from a lived experience perspective

 
We have learnt so much from talking, sharing and also educating from our combined professional experiences of 40+ years on the ground in practice - this is where we are able to relate our journey to current practice that we see and observe - people want examples and solutions and it’s lovely that we can provide that 

It’s also lovely knowing that our company is making a huge difference to children’s lives so what we stand for in terms of child centred, curious, empathy and compassion is actually making a difference in practice as we always say “children don’t care what you know until they know you care” - how true 

We have also been hugely inspired by watching other CEPs talk so passionately those include @ashleyjbaptiste @iamjudithdenton @keynote_speaker_nick @lucykatebarnes @thecareleaders and many more…

- we love the fact that we are ALL collectively saying the same thing in terms of approaches and care - yes we have our own unique styles but the message is the same….it’s all about “seeing the child behind the behaviour and referral” 
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As we continue to grow we hope to meet more amazing CEPs - it takes courage to relive your childhood and can be hard to see when practice has not improved or mindsets struggle to see another perspective but the more voices and people willing to work hand in hand will be change….which children NOW and in the future will benefit from.
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We may not know if all but we are incredibly passionate about what we do and we hope that shines through 
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www.smashlifeuk.com
    💥Smash Life💥

Smash Life Hero 🦸‍♀️ 
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We have the pleasure of visiting many schools throughout a working week. We are always observing great child centred practice and we feel it’s really important to HIGHLIGHT what we see and FEEL - that’s how we all grow and raise standards 
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One of our First recipients of the “Smash Life Mug” is Lightmoor Primary School Headteacher Mrs Cowan and Deputy Mr Newton.
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We have been fortunate to have worked with the school since our formation 5 years ago and we have seen consistent, child centred, caring practice focussed on relationships and empowering the children to “be the best they can be” 
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Standards within Lightmoor Primary School are very high and each child knows they will be supported to work hard and achieve, but they are also cared for, listened to and encouraged to look after each other. There is always a sense of connection and calmness within the school which every adult upholds. FUN is also on the agenda which is also very important in a child’s journey.
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We have seen amazing transformations and as @pauldixbehaviour says “When the adult changes - everything changes” 
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The head Mrs Cowan also loves a challenge and is always involved in raising vital funds for charity - she also ran they @londonmarathon dressed as @spongebob raising funds for @nspcc_official - 
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Here is Mrs Cowan and our Director Andy with their London Marathon medals.
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Keep going Lightmoor - you are ALL smashing it 💙💥❤️
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“Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Together”
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www.smashlifeuk.com
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#greatpractice #heroes #smashlife #charity #fundraise #school #education #feeling #connection #community #childcentered #believe #compassionate #caring #education #childdevelopment #semh #child #wellbeing
    💥Smash Life💥

Yesterday our directors Andy & Matt travelled to Chesterfield to deliver a talk / training to @fiveriverschildcare foster carers and team 
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We spent such a great few hours with some really child centred and committed foster carers who definitely lead from the heart.
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Mixed with our lived experience, professional experiences / observations and what children tell our service on a daily basis through our bespoke mentoring service we were able to make the training fun, engaging and relevant to practice / care now. Education seemed to be a huge topic of discussion with many foster carers often feeling disillusioned with the vast mix of approaches and decisions made by educators particularly in the secondary school environments. Often many foster carers need to hear that advocacy and being there for a child to help then navigate through life changing personal events and also educational challenges will be appreciated and will make the difference - children will never forget how you made them FEEL.
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We really appreciate the feedback we received, for people to take the time to message and inform us about their experience makes us feel very proud and certainly validates our WHY 
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As we said yesterday we are ALL in this together to ensure the best possible outcomes for children in care, to provide a platform for children despite their life experiences to believe and achieve, be a strong advocate and ensure the child feels safe, supported and listened to - that’s when we will ALL see the best versions of the child. 
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We are looking forward to delivering the training for foster carers in Birmingham at the end of may 
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Keeping #leadingfromtheheart everyone and let’s look at children and see the POTENTIAL not the label 💙❤️
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“Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Together”
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smashlifeuk.com 
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#mentor #speaker #trainers #livedexperience #togetherness #fostercare #fostering #connection #trauma #traumainformed #aces #mindset #empathy #love #childrenincare #cic #instagood #shropshire #fiverivers #overcome #perception
    💥Smash Life💥

NOTHING makes us more happier than receiving feedback from a child that has attended our mentoring, group work, talks or projects 
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To KNOW that a child has attended our post 16 sessions we ran in Dudley @dudley_college went away, reflected and decided they wanted to personally send us a message speaks volumes to us….WOW. We have built a community that children in care feel they can message, reflect with, share and also offload….
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We set up Smash Life to be child centred to the core, to be real, honest and above all to give back - we certainly feel we are able to connect in a way that we needed delivering in our unique way - very similar to the PACE model (playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity & Empathy)
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Children in Care are great personality detectives, many have been in formal meetings and around professionals for years and KNOW who are real and who “have an agenda” - children in care regularly feed back that they want more time, honesty, respect, more human interactions and to be listened to it’s not a big request considering what they have been through. 
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Always remember - “Children Will NEVER forget how you made them FEEL” - we know our approach, our vulnerability will always help children feel that they are NOT alone and they CAN achieve.
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We loved seeing how this young lady grew during our post 16 “smashing Life into independence” course - we are extremely proud of you and have no doubt that you will SMASH LIFE 
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We LOVE what we do! 
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“Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Together”
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smashlifeuk.com 
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#mentors #speakers #trainers #post16 #childrenincare #givingback #support #guidance #advice #nurture #believe #love #lifeskills #vulnerability #mindset #keynotespeaker #leadingfromtheheart #shropshire #dudley #connection #aces #posttraumaticgrowth
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