HIGH school pupils have been learning about the risks of getting involved in knife crime and finding out about how to look after their mental health.

Workshops have taken place at Atherton Community School recently following the results of a ballot which found mental health and knife crime were voted the top two issues young people were most concerned about in the borough.

The session about the dangers of knife crime has been delivered at a time when the issue has raised concerns nationally after a series of fatal stabbings across the country.

Wigan Council and young people's counselling service Willow carried out the workshops.

Cabinet member for children and young people at the council, Cllr Jenny Bullen, said: "I can completely understand why young people are concerned about these issues, especially given some of the high profile cases that have featured in the media lately.

"It’s important that we work together with schools to give young people an opportunity to talk about their concerns in a safe space and help alleviate any of those concerns if we can.

"We want to provide young people with the skills to become confident, resilient individuals and let them know where they can go for help if needed."

The knife crime workshop encouraged young people to reflect on the severity of these type of offences and understand the impact that this crime might have on victims affected directly or indirectly.

It discussed alternative ways to solve disputes and to come up with ideas of reducing knife crime offences in society.

The mental health session helped the young people to think about how to stay calm in difficult situations and offered them coping strategies to assist them in dealing with stress, pressure and anxiety.

Pastoral and PSHE and C co-ordinator at Atherton Community School, Laura Eaves, said: "We know that both knife crime and mental health are issues nationally and it’s made a big difference to have professionals come into school to discuss these subjects with young people.

"Listening to someone new can have a real impact and the young people have responded really well.

"We want young people to have time in school to think about these subjects, get access to good information and build skills to resist peer pressure and improve their self-esteem so that they will make positive choices as they go through life."

Around 17,000 young people in the borough took part in the The Make Your Mark ballot in November.

It is run nationally by the UK Youth Parliament and in the borough by the council's youth group, Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet.

The town hall and partner organisations are working with Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet to improve the support for young people.