SMASH LIFE – OUR STORY – GROWING UP IN CARE
Andy and Matt Smith are brothers and Directors of Smash Life who were abused “after” being placed by social services into the care system. This took place over an eight-year period from 1990 to 1998.
As a result of this life wasn’t all plane sailing, with both brothers experiencing lots of pent-up anger, low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness and suicidal thoughts originating from the abuse that they had suffered during childhood. This culminated in brushes with the law, failed relationships, huge debt, violence, anxiety, depression, and OCD and also impacted the brothers’ own sibling relationship.
After years of having to deal with the effects of their traumatic abuse, the Smith brothers have gone on to have great success at university, employment, various sporting teams, numerous music projects and in life.
In 2018 the brothers united to found the company “Smash Life”. Drawing on the hard lessons that they had learnt from their own abuse and experience of the care system; as well as their combined 38 years of professional experience working with young people and families, they set about building an organisation to help those in similar situations.
Offering their own inspirational talks and training to young people and organisations the brothers are able to provide a unique insight into real-life lived within the care system.
Their hope is that Smash Life can be used as a support tool by Education, Organisations, Parents, Councils and the Care System, to help prevent children and young people from ever having to experience what they went through.
Smash Life is now an AWARD-WINNING company which offers:
- Inspirational Talks.
- Mentoring with an Accredited Qualification.
- Life Story Work / Mediation.
- Group Work / Smash Life Experiences.
- Training For Professionals.
- Consultancy to Organisations.
Book a talk to educate your team and you will discover how the brothers found the resilience to turn such a negative experience in those early formative years to become the men they are today, bucking the traditional story of adverse childhood experiences.
Smash Life believe that despite what life may throw at you, you can turn your negatives into a positive and aspire to be the person that you want to be – ‘Smashing Life’.
Who Are SMASH LIFE?
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 textbook. 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 in 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!
- 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%
SMASH LIFE Ambassadors
At Smash Life we understand that inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes, we are very fortunate to know many inspirational individuals, who are prepared to give their time to help engage and inspire. Our ambassadors have diverse life and work experiences ranging from professional footballers, biologists and musicians to amazing young people that are currently in care. We are very proud to share with you our Smash Life Ambassadors.
Discover the amazing Smash Life brothers’ journey; what they learnt, how they dealt with their trauma and its impact through to their ultimate success in finding resilience.
Smash Life offer inspirational talks catering to both young people, and industry professionals and trainees. The talks have been very successful and have been delivered to enthralled audiences up and down the UK.
Each talk can be catered for young people, professionals, organizations, training days and conferences and will focus on adverse childhood experiences, abuse, complex trauma, safeguarding and much more.
The benefit of the talks in a professional context is to provide continued professional development by helping them to understand children and young people’s behaviour, change approaches and perceptions and bring a reality to practice that can’t be obtained through books.
For young people, they will receive a motivational, hard-hitting, factual story that will help them to understand that they are not alone with their own traumas and can build up their own skills and resilience; following the positive example set by the Smash Life brothers.
We now have an array of talks we can offer to young people & professionals so please ask during the booking stage.
Our bespoke and unique shared life “one-to-one” mentoring sessions are for young people who need a positive role model, guidance and a listening ear.
Smash Life is creative in its approach to mentoring, enabling young people to open up to us so that we can really focus on their voices. We have found that it is limiting to sit in a room and ask a young person to just “talk about it” as this can be oppressive and daunting for some individuals.
By bringing sport, music, games, walks, and trips to expand on the Mentoring we have achieved better results and the young people actually enjoy and look forward to the sessions. We believe that showing our own vulnerability will inspire those we mentor to share their own.
The ‘Smash Life Experiences’ promote a hobby or help build a young person’s aspirations. We know that not all young people have the opportunity to have the same involvement and
exposure to some positive activities that we may take for granted. This is due to the reality that they may find themselves in growing up.
Our mentoring service provides learning and enriches lives through fun activities and engagement. We are flexible and can tailor a mentoring programme to meet a young person’s individual needs.
‘Smash Life Reports’ are an additional “add-on” service. If requested, they can be written after each session in order to identify needs, pass on any concerns, share positive steps and capture the young person’s voice. This ensures that the young person is continually heard and their needs acted upon swiftly by fellow professionals working with them. As mentioned above, the reports are optional and will be discussed with you during the referral stage.
We also offer ‘Virtual Mentoring’ for young people who may benefit from this form of communication. This can apply to those young people with severe anxiety or to a young person who we cannot get to because of geographical reasons, thereby expanding the reach of our Mentoring service.
Featuring the same high-quality mentoring as our traditional face-to-face service, we use a secure virtual platform to carry out the sessions. So far they have proved very popular with those young people who have already benefitted from the service.
Life Story Work
Smash Life offer ‘Life Story Work’. We believe this is a vital and important piece of work for young people in the care system. Having experienced Life Story Work ourselves whilst growing up we know first-hand how important this work is. It can also provide young people with a wider knowledge as to who they are and why they are in care. This can help them move forwards and learn to adapt to their new surroundings. We can use our creativity and work alongside young people to create something they can keep and look back on in years to come.
We offer a ‘Smash Life NOCN Qualification’ that young people aged 11-18 can complete alongside our bespoke mentoring sessions! This qualification provides a way for the young person to learn new skills that they will be able to take into further education, training or employment.
In our group sessions, we provide 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 plus lots more. We combine these issue focussed group sessions with sport, games, music and creative expression, to make them fun and engaging for those taking part.
As an extension to our group work and mentoring services we also provide ‘Mediation’. We have seen many examples of how low-level conflict can quickly escalate into bigger issues for the individuals involved and at a cost to services (NHS/Police/Courts) and sometimes families and the local community. We will attend a meeting in any setting to try and resolve issues between two parties or individuals. Sometimes a neutral mediator can provide a safe platform for individuals to work through their differences without violence being used, whilst at the same time learning how to talk instead of acting through fear or responding to threats of intimidation.
We firmly believe that by providing a space to air grievances that can be listened to and resolved peacefully at ‘ground level’, we can help to tackle some of society’s bigger issues – like the rise in knife crime and other criminal/anti-social activities. We are all about proactive, early intervention work that can help to create communities inhabited by people who are emotionally intelligent.
We also offer training to groups of professionals working with young people as part of their ongoing professional development. This will not only help to improve practice but also create better outcomes for the young people and families that we all aim to work alongside and empower.
To book group work or Smash Life neutral mediation service now, simply click on the button to the right of this box and complete the form.
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 can observe your practice or meet with your staff teams to discuss solutions to problems faced and create a safe space for staff to open up and be honest about the challenges they may face so you can identify further training to empower them. We can also advise on things like policies and procedures, safe working practices and ideas on hearing and capturing the voice of the child throughout the structure of your organisation. This service can also be provided under the guise of a “mystery customer” or undercover independent examiner in order to provide your organisation with “true-life results” professional feedback on how you are doing in areas that you want to find out about.
Consultation is also available to young people who may be within your organisation and require assistance in specific areas or career advice/guidance.
SMASH LIFE Useful Links
- Local Offers for Care Leavers
- Leaving Foster care or Local Authority Care
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