Bereaved mum of teenager Ashdon Muirhead, who took her own life, sets up charity in daughter’s name.
A MUM whose 14-year-old daughter took her own life has set up a charity to help teenage girls.
Ashdon Muirhead, a Norbury Manor College pupil from Thornton Heath, died in November last year.
Six months on, mum Trisha Muirhead-Hewitt has set up the Ashdon Jazz Academy, for girls aged 11 to 16 in Croydon, Lambeth and Merton.
“It’s about giving them other options so they don’t feel hopeless. If I can just reach one girl and stop them from doing that,” Trisha said.
The registered charity will match teenage girls with adult female mentors. These girls may be suffering from depression, feelings of isolation, family break-ups, self-harming, bullying, at risk of exclusion, low self-esteem or be involved in criminality,
Trisha said: “As a parent Ashdon told me lots, we had a very good relationship. But they don’t tell you everything. It’s about empowering them [the teenagers] and making them feel happy and confident about themselves.”
Trisha, an assistant primary school head teacher and safeguarding lead, has already completed a course on running a mentoring charity and started organising fundraising events. Five women have come forward to be mentors.
She said it has been hard to explain to people why she started the charity, but she “can’t mope”.
Trisha, who returned to work today (Friday), said: “I’ll have a day where I’m really upset and don’t want to do anything and then after that day I’ll say ‘come on, you’ve had your day crying, what next’? I’ll cry in the car on the way to a meeting and then brush myself off and carry on.
“Ashdon definitely has a hand in it, there are so many doors that have been opened. It’s like she’s saying ‘this is what I wanted you to do’.
“She would have expected nothing less than this from me.”
Youth clubs, schools and other organisations will be able to nominate teenagers for a one-year mentoring programme with the Ashdon Jazz Academy.
Trisha will then visit the teens at home with their families and will train and assess mentors throughout their time with the charity – which is independent from schools, social work and the police.
Mentors will then see the teenagers once a week to listen, build a relationship and help them set goals.
Trisha said: “Mentors are not mothers, not carers, not teachers, not social workers – they are trusted friends.”
Mentors will meet the girls in places they feel comfortable, like a café or McDonald’s, and Trisha is fundraising to reimburse costs as well as pay for group activities and an end of year gala.
Once one set of mentors are established, she hopes to take on another group and continue to expand the charity.
Trisha said starting the charity has been part of her healing: “My strength comes from God above who I believe in very strongly.
“It comes from my son [20-year-old Emmanuel] who has gone through so much and still puts his head up and tells me to stop moaning. It comes from family and friends and my mum and dad who have been my rock.
“It comes from the Ashdon in my head who told me before ‘it’s not all about you mum’. That sticks with me, this is not about me it’s about other people. I do it for her.”
To donate or offer help, visit the Ashdon Jazz Academy Facebook page, go to @AshdonJAcademy on Twitter or email email@example.com
‘You’ve got to get inside their heads’
THE ASHDON Jazz Academy has been set up to help young teenage girls deal with the pressure they face.
“Whatever you do as a parent they are still going to go out into the world, you can’t always be with them, so it’s about empowering them,” mum Trisha Muirhead-Hewitt said.
Trisha said teenage girls “take to heart” what others think of them and seek validation from ‘likes’ on Facebook or Instagram.
“It’s really sad, they seek validation from virtual friends. But really as parents we need to be the ones validating our children,” she said.
“There’s a lot of pressure on young girls to look a certain way, act a certain way and be in a certain friendship group.
“We know as adults you come out of it, but at the time that’s your world.”
Book celebrates recollections of a beloved child
ASHDON’S mum has written a book about her daughter named after the teenager’s last Facebook post before she died.
The 14-year-old wrote on Facebook “Imma miss you all”, and mum Trisha Muirhead-Hewitt has entitled her book “Imma miss you too”.
It will be published on Amazon on June 26 and features poems and blog posts Trisha has written since Ashdon’s death beside pictures of her.
Trisha said: “It’s all from where I was in the early stages of grief, about her funeral and when she passed away.
“But fitted into that are memories of her, like when she had a rabbit or when she dyed her hair blond.”
All proceeds from the book will go to the Ashdon Jazz Academy. It will be launched in Croydon on June 26, where Ashdon’s 20-year-old brother, rapper Emmanuel Marshalleck, will perform a song written about the book’s title.
“It never occurred to me I would write anything, and then to be looking at a book about my daughter – she’s left a legacy,” Trisha said. “I didn’t know where her legacy would run, but boy oh boy.”
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