Foundation set up in memory of Essex student Charlie Watkins to mark four years since his death

Charlie Watkins twin Harry describes dealing with the four year anniversary of his brothers death as 'bittersweet.'

Missing his brother dreadfully, it is a time, not only to reflect on the loss of Charlie, but also to look back, and be proud of what the foundation, he and his father setup in Charlie's name, has achieved.

Harry said "Our foundation has made so much progress in three and a half years. I have always said that if we could help just one person, it was all worth it, and I know that we have exceeded that."

22-year-old Charlie was a Criminology graduate from York University but was brought up in Colchester by his dad Tim, after his mum passed away when he was 9.

Tim said, "Just after Charlie's mother died is when we started to notice mental health issues in Charlie, who took his own life just after he was 22.

"The idea behind the foundation was primarily to make sure we did something in Charlie's memory and to ensure that other young people had the support in order that other families don't have to go through what we've gone through."

Charlie's brother Harry says he is proud of the work the foundation has done in Charlie's memory. Credit: Watkins Family

Shortly after Charlie's death in 2017 Harry and Tim founded The Charlie Watkins Foundation in his memory, to support projects improving young people's mental health.

Within its first year, the foundation worked with Mid and North East Essex Mind on an online 1:1 platform Chat with Charlie, which was run by trained volunteers for the University of Essex and Writtle University College.

This three year project has now ended and the foundation has begun a partnership with Colchester and Tendring Youth Enquiry Service (YES)

Dr David Sollis who is the Chief Executive Officer of YES, says the funding from the foundation has enabled the service to start a new project.

"It has allowed us to hire somebody in a school navigator role and that person will be going out, talking to schools, talking to young people to push forward the conversation around their mental health."

Dr David Sollis from YES says funding from the foundation is enabling them to start a new project in schools. Credit: ITV Anglia

Charity YES says it has seen an increase in referrals and young people contacting them as their mental health has deteriorated through lockdown.

To meet this new demand it is increasing its capacity, something which funding from The Charlie Watkins Foundation is helping it do.

YES is also expecting another increase in referrals post Covid-19, with Dr Sollis telling ITV News Anglia, "Over the next two to three years we will be picking up the aftermath of Covid-19.

"We survive on donations like the one from The Charlie Watkins Foundation, but it's also about working in partnership, it is that inspiration, that drive to make change.

"We need to get out there and work together to make sure we are making the most of every penny in the mental health system."

Harry and his dad Tim hope by telling Charlie's story they will inspire others who are struggling to seek help. Credit: ITV Anglia

While Tim knows the pandemic is having a detrimental impact on young people's mental health, he hopes it will also raise awareness and encourage us to talk about how we are feeling more.

"I think there will be a greater awareness, and that is something we have strived to achieve over the last three to four years; to really increase the awareness of the issue about mental health and to remove the stigma, so that people know, it's alright not to be alright.

"So, I think yes there will be a bigger issue going forward because of the pandemic, but hopefully people will feel more comfortable to talk."

Harry added, "Charlie would have taken his hat of to us, he probably wouldn't think we could do it! But, I'm sure he's looking down on us thinking 'good job guys!'"