Brianna Ghey’s mum launches campaign to ‘prevent what happened, ever happening again’

Brianna and Esther Ghey

The mother of Brianna Ghey, the trans teenager killed earlier this year, is championing a new mental-health and wellbeing campaign for children, with the hope that it will help “prevent what’s happened to Brianna from happening again”. 

In the wake of her daughter’s death, Esther Ghey has called for more support for young people, both in her local area and nationally – believing if youngsters are given the tools to process negative emotions in a healthy way, it will prevent future mental-health crises and create a more empathetic society. 

Joining forces with the Warrington Guardian, Ghey is championing the Peace in Mind charity campaign in her daughter’s memory, which will raise funds for the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP). 

The funds will enable school staff in Warrington to receive training that will teach them to understand the mental-health and wellbeing support pupils need, and in turn help children build resilience and coping mechanisms. 

Ghey, along with her partner Wes Powell, took part in the Great North Swim in June to raise money for MiSP.

The Peace in Mind campaign logo (Supplied)

The family’s world was torn apart on 11 February when 16-year-old Brianna, from Birchwood, was found dead in Culcheth Linear Park, in Culcheth, Warrington. 

You may like to watch

Four days after Brianna’s death, two teenagers – a boy and a girl, both aged 15 at the time and who cannot be named for legal reasons – were charged with the murder of the trans teen. 

A trial is set to take place at Manchester Crown Court in November.  

“In schools, there’s such a focus on academia and no focus on how people are actually doing,” Ghey told PinkNews.

“There’s no point in having straight A’s and having crippling anxiety and not being able to actually contribute to society at the end of that.” 

There are several dimensions to Ghey championing the campaign. 

First, she says Brianna had issues with her own mental health, where she “really struggled” and felt “isolated”. 

Secondly, mindfulness training has the potential to “weave some empathy and understanding into our society” which, Ghey feels, “might prevent what’s happened to Brianna from happening again”. 

Alongside this, she told PinkNews that since her daughter’s death she has received messages from people in the trans community, who have told her of their own mental-health issues and social isolation. 

“The LGBTQIA+ community are at higher risk of mental-health issues,” she noted. “And it looks like this is due to things such as stigma and discrimination. 

“I think that is hitting it from both angles, making people more empathetic, understanding and resilient and also giving people coping strategies so that if they do have mental-health issues, or encounter issues in society, they have better ways of coping with it.” 

Brianna Ghey, a trans girl who was killed in a park in Warrington.
Brianna Ghey died in a Warrington park in February. (Supplied)

Ghey’s campaign has two goals. The first is to get teachers at every school in Warrington trained in mindfulness, which can then be used as a pilot scheme to see how the training supports local youth. 

Following this, and after examining the success of the scheme in Warrington, the long-term hope is to roll the initiative out nationally. 

Ghey wants to “try to change the curriculum to have a health and wellbeing section which is as weighty as all of the academic subjects”. 

Although the campaign only launched on Thursday (7 September), it has already gained traction in the local area, with professional rugby league team Warrington Wolves and the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation lending their support.

The club previously showed support for Brianna and her family when hooker Danny Walker’s warm-up shirt was dedicated to her. 

James Howes, the health and wellbeing manager at the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation, told the Warrington Guardian: “The Wolves and Wolves Foundation are passionate about investing in mindfulness training within primary schools to help develop more compassionate young people.

“By supporting the Mindfulness in Schools project in Warrington, we will be sowing the seeds of mindfulness early, to cultivate a generation equipped to embrace challenges, live more in the present moment and develop tools to help relax when life becomes challenging.”

Brianna with her mum Esther Ghey. (Supplied)

Tom Bedworth, the community reporter at the Warrington Guardian, told PinkNews: “I’ve been on the ground covering Brianna’s story since that horrific day in February.

“I grew up in Warrington and never thought something like this could happen here – many other residents felt the same.

“The outpouring of love and support for Brianna’s family in the wake of her death was heartening to report on, and when Esther and I first met, I knew we could work together to make a change.

“I suggested that we run a campaign and everything has snowballed from there.

“It’s important to show that local newspapers are there to represent the readers, and our readers care about Brianna’s story and her family.”

The paper’s deputy editor, Gareth Dunning, added: “We are delighted to partner with Esther on this new campaign. The stresses on children and young people have never been higher than they are today.

“The prevalence of social media means bullying may not just be felt in schools but when youngsters go home as well. By increasing access for teachers to learn skills to pass on to young children, we can hopefully give young people the tools they need to cope in today’s pressurised world.

“If we, as parents, can also develop skills to help with our mental health, then Warrington will be a better place to live.

“If our campaign goes as we like, Warrington can become a beacon and a template for the rest of the country, for a better state of mind and a healthier environment for all our young people to live in.”

You can donate to the campaign via its GoFundMe page.