A YOUNG woman admits she ‘wouldn’t be here today’ if not for the Girlguides - as she promoted the group that helped her fight depression for this year’s Mental Health Week.

Charlie Owen, 25, was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression when she was 18, during her first year of studying at the University of Southampton.

The change university brought to the girl from Wales - who now lives in Thurnscoe - felt too much to handle and so she began volunteering with the Girlguides for one hour a week.

She said: “When I got to uni, I think I lost a part of myself it was such a big change. I was just retreating into myself.

“Girlguiding can be as little as one hour a week, where you can turn up and talk to five-year-olds about their week.

“Nothing feels terrible when a child is saying to you: ‘here’s my teddy bear, do you want to know its name?’

“And then you start to meet people in guiding, who are the nicest people that you’ll ever meet - I think I’m a better person for volunteering for Girlguiding. It’s shown me new things about myself.”

Now, with an education degree in hand, Charlie has become the Brownie and Rainbow leader in Barnsley, where she runs activities from the group’s Be Well programme, which helps youngsters explore how to stay safe, happy and healthy.

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She is also a peer educator for South Yorkshire, leading interactive sessions for young Girlguiding members on topics like resilience and mental wellbeing.

“I think it’s so important to teach the girls what resilience is, to know what techniques there are to help, and that when in doubt they have a support network.

“You start volunteering for an hour a week for the girls because they need you.

“You stay for the adult friendships that keep you going.

“In short, I don’t think I’d be here today without Girlguiding.”