Salford University Alumna Katherine Whittam and former Hollyoaks star Jazmine Franks have started ‘the Peak and the Pit’ podcast over lockdown.

The podcast, which is recorded at Unit 26 in Media City Salford, aims to normalise the good and the bad days that people have, whilst also discussing the link between mental health and fitness.

Each week the hosts are set a fitness or wellbeing challenge to do and they feedback to the audience and share how they did.

Some of their challenges have included doing yoga every day for a week, running up the stairs every day and going for a run or a long walk three times a week.

Franks, who starred as Esther Bloom in Hollyoaks from 2011 to 2018, suggested to name the podcast ‘the Peak and the Pit’ after remembering a holiday ritual.

“I remember watching an episode of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ and they did the peak and the pit of their holiday.

“So every time I’ve come back from holiday on the camper van on the way home or a plane or a train I’m like peak and pit of the holiday, and it’s been something that I’ve done for years now.

“I said to Kat what about we call the podcast ‘the Peak and the Pit’? The peak of your week and the pit of your week!

“Let’s try and normalise having those bad moments and those good moments.”

 

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The duo met in 2015 when Whittam, from Urmston, was creating the mental health documentary ‘My Escape’.

Whittam, who works as a Youth Co-ordinator for Salford Foundation said: “I was doing a documentary in 2015, I was trying to raise money for Manchester Mind and to help start a conversation about mental health and that’s when I contacted Jazz”.

Franks, who lives in Salford, said: “Kat got in touch with me because I was playing a character who was going through bullying in Hollyoaks and had really poor mental health and she attempted suicide.

“Kat just reached out and was like I’d love to interview you for my documentary.

“I had a really nice honest chat and we’ve been friends ever since.”

At the beginning of last December, Whittam contacted Franks with the idea of the podcast.

Together the duo wanted to create a podcast that was conversational and relatable to young adults and teenagers.

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Whittam, who is a mental health advocate, said: “Seeing all the things that have happened through lockdown with uni students being locked in and people really struggling at the moment, we just thought it would be really nice to start something that could help people.”

“We hope to help people and normalise mental health.

“There’s a massive stigma around mental health and especially when you hear some podcasts, they’re very clinical and we just want to show that you can have mental health issues and illnesses and still be productive, you can still live a normal life.”

Franks said: “There are massive companies that pay people thousands of pounds to read from a script. We’re funding this all ourselves at the moment and we just want to make it as authentic as possible.

“I think you can always spot when a podcast is scripted – and we’re not scripted!

“There’s been people writing in saying it’s helped them open up a conversation or if they’ve noticed someone that isn’t being themselves, they’ve reached out to that person.”

Creating the podcast has given the hosts a space to be creative and motivated through lockdown.

The duo, who regularly ask their listeners for their peaks and pits of the week, have received raving responses since the launch of their podcast in January.

Whittam said: “We’ve had really good responses we’ve had people that we don’t even know message us on our YouTube saying that it’s really helped them and it’s something that they need to hear.”

As the podcast has grown, the hosts have invited an array of different people on the show such as Asttina Mandella from Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK.

The episode with the most engagement is episode 5, which features Frank’s friend Alex Clair.

Franks said: “We got him to come in to have a chat with us and that’s probably our most listened to episode and that’s the one that’s had the most feedback.

“And it’s like oh that’s really nice that you’re probably reacting better to just your normal person than someone with a high profile.

“Having the celebrities on it normalises mental health a bit more, hopefully that’ll trigger people to talk about it more openly, but I definitely think that Alex has had the most response.

“We’ve had people messaging asking us to thank him for speaking so honestly about it.”

You can listen to all episodes of the Peak and the Pit on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Podcasts.

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