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

Juliette McGill

Mentor

Ever since Juliette studied Sport development at University, her drive has always been to provide young people with sporting opportunities, as she witnessed first- hand, the enrichment that it brought to them. This has taken different forms from extra-curricular and community sport links in Powys to inter-school links in Shropshire and Telford. Juliette is focused on providing a holistic education through PE at all ages eventually, leading her to training and becoming a PE teacher, which she has enjoyed over the past 9 years.

As a teacher, Juliette believes that young people and their individual efforts should be at the forefront of what we do and she has been lucky enough to work alongside like-minded colleagues, enabling her to provide young people with opportunities to lead, organise and empower one another. Juliette has taken on mentoring roles within the School and supports young people through challenging times in their education.

Outside of this, she is qualified as a Personal Trainer to coach young people through strength training, which she currently uses to motivate her students further. Juliette has been able to see the work that Smash Life does with some of the students that she teaches and in her words: “I am really excited to be a part of this positive impact”.

Juliette also works to use movement and exercise to motivate and empower women that she trains and she is really passionate about creating opportunities here for young women to move, develop mental and physical strength and learn to understand and feel confident in their bodies.

Juliette’s personal interests are sport and fitness. She plays hockey and netball and enjoys running. Juliette has previously challenged herself to compete in triathlon and this is a new goal that she is setting for herself in the future too. She loves exploring the Shropshire Hills with her children and this year started to enjoy cold water swimming as well. Juliette loves to travel but also thinks “you can’t beat a camping trip to a British beach whatever the weather”!

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.

Courtney Hutchinson

Mentor

Courtney has taken a few different paths since leaving school in 2016; from working for a local sports coaching company, to moving to Suffolk to study carpentry at West Suffolk college before moving back home and becoming a supervisor at a local soft play center.

Caring for and Engaging children has always been a deep burning passion for Courtney and she feels passionate about “Being who she needed when she was younger”

Courtney found school very challenging and felt very alone and abandoned during her time in education, as she struggled to process life events that happened beyond the school gates.

After Establishing a good relationship with a teacher at her secondary school, she was able to open up about her past and childhood, creating a path to being able to understand and work through her own feelings and trauma.

Courtney understands the power of one person who can connect on a human level, has emotional intelligence and can help put you on the right track in life. Ultimately we all have the power but sometimes we need to be shown this by a positive role model.

Courtney was introduced to Andy in 2016, where they worked together for a local company. It was and during this time Courtney discovered her passion for engaging, helping and inspiring children, particularly children who may not have the support networks others have.

The role included visiting children in the community, delivering sports coaching sessions alongside mentoring the children on how to talk, share, recognise and control their emotions in difficult situations.

Recently Courtney has been working for a fantastic local Company called “Little Rascals” which she loves. She has been able to increase her skills Working at the softplay center becoming heavily involved in the day to day running of the soft play, parties and also has been involved with their foundation which provides services for children with additional needs. This has taught Courtney that no two children are the same and that every child is unique, has a story and they deserve to be heard.

Courtney is a wonderful addition to our team, she brings with her many life experiences which has shaped who is is today, her values, her approach and also her “why”. Courtney wants to be  “radiator” and the role model many children especially girls will need as they try to understand and progress through life. Courtney also has aspirations to talk to groups of girls to help them understand “their past may be in their heads but their future is firmly in their hands”.

In her spare time Courtney likes playing basketball or spending time with her godsons.

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.

Elliott Durrell

Mentor

Elliott is a Shrewsbury born lad who, since leaving school has had a career in professional football playing for several non league clubs as well as having a stint in the Football League. His clubs list AFC Telford United, Hednesford Town FC, Tamworth FC, Chester FC, York City FC, Altrincham FC, Wrexham AFC, Grantham Town FC and Macclesfield Town FC.

Alongside his playing career Elliott has also worked with children in the past through coaching, working in schools, with grassroots teams and running a Man City FC Development Centre. Elliot is also currently working towards his UEFA B Licence.

During the last 18 months Elliott has begun working with young learners and amazing children who have experienced grief, loss and many traumatic events in life enabling him to develop some excellent skills which he will be able to utilise as part of the Smashlife UK team. Having worked for another local alternative provision company prior to joining us Elliott has been able to work closely with learners of various ages and has helped nurture and develop each individual student based on their needs with a view to reaching their desired goals and ambitions.

Elliott will be able to utilise the skills he has learnt over the years to help our learners develop both socially and emotionally; having had plenty of setbacks throughout his career both through injury and other factors, Elliott has become a role model for young children who have aspirations to become professional sports people through his hard work, resilience, passion, dedication and never give up attitude.

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.

Fee Edwards

Mentor

As a teenager Fee was a young carer for her parent and attended a young carers group. The group gave her the chance to have a break from home life and meet other young people who were in similar situations.

Fee left school and went onto college, then university to study dance and gained a degree. She then moved back to Shropshire due to bereavement, she had to get stuck into full time employment and she managed to set up a dance class for young people and volunteered for a short time at a local youth club.

Fee returned to studying at college in her late 20’s where she completed a Hairdressing course, which led her to run her own business, which enabled people to look good on the outside but also provided a safe space where clients could be open and talk about anything, creating a bond and building many friendships.

After the hardships of covid and some personal experiences, Fee decided she wanted a change and wanted to pursue something else, which gave back more. She became a volunteer for a charity called Homestart who support families practically and emotionally. Fee enjoyed this role and found it rewarding.

When Fee found out about Smashlife and discovered what they did, she just really wanted to be a part of it.

Fee was drawn to their values and supportive, encouraging approach, this she believes is important, helping build young people’s confidence, self-belief, strengths and encouraging young people in a positive way.

In her personal life Fee loves nothing more than exploring outdoors, looking at nature and enjoying picnics in the summer months with her family. She also enjoys jewellery making, crafting, baking, meeting with friends and reading.

Fee lives by the statement that tomorrow is never promised, so believes in trying to make the most of it. Life can throw some challenges and if you can help people on their journey and make a difference to someone, then you are winning in life.

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Feedback

Reactions from some of our recent clients!

“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

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.”

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

“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

“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

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

Christine Dunn, Professional

“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

“…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

“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

“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

“ 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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

Our Partners

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

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