Dealing with exam stress

Summer is a wonderful time to relax, hang out with friends and soak up the sun. But unfortunately, before this time can arrive, so many young people have to take dreaded exams- myself included! As someone who has been through too many exams and deadlines to count, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way that may help you if you are also heading into exam season.


1.      Figure out what techniques work out for you. Some people like mind maps. Some like lists. You can rephrase lesson notes, summarise paragraphs in revision guides, or even watch YouTube videos online about what you’re studying. It may be helpful to get some sticky notes or note cards and write down key words and definitions. Just writing them out will help you remember, or you can bring them with you in your bag in case you have a spare 5 minutes to go over them! A virtual alternative to this is Quizlet (, where you can make flash cards, quizzes and even games that can help you study.


2.      How much time do you need? Some people like to start revision months before the exams, and others the night before. I personally don’t recommend leaving things to the last minute, but for some people it works. If you find that the added pressure of a time limit helps you work more effectively, then do whatever works for you! Likewise, if you need to take more time off around exam time to mentally prepare yourself, that’s okay too.


3.      Study with friends. You can learn from each other- why not get together and have study sessions? It’s a good excuse to bring some snacks, sit down with some friends and learn something too. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses- perhaps your friend understands something you don’t, and you can help them with something they’re struggling with, helping you to understand it better too. Revision should never be isolating- so many other people are in the same boat, so support each other!


4.      How are you going to structure your revision? A subject a day? 3 subjects for a few hours a day? You can create a timetable that works for you, either on paper or online, for example on Get Revising ( Perhaps you want to schedule tasks by hours, or by making yourself a to-do list and telling yourself you have to have that list completed by the end of the day. Most importantly, don’t compare yourself to everyone around you. Not everyone studies the same way, and there isn’t really a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ way to study- there’s only what does work for you and what doesn’t. If you’re someone who is easily distracted, you can try the ‘Forest’ app that grows virtual trees as you study ( - if you stop studying to check social media, the trees stop growing. 


5.      Where do you like to study? You don’t have to be the stereotypical student that hunches over a desk for hours on end. Some people find it helps to be in complete silence, undistracted and in somewhere like a library or bedroom, but others prefer to be out and about. If the weather’s nice, why not go for a walk and sit in a park? A coffee shop? Or even a different room in your house. Figuring out how you study best is just as important to learn as your actual content material, so give yourself time and space to trial different methods and techniques.


6.      Look after yourself. This is the most important reminder of all. You are not your grades, and they shouldn’t define who you are. Yes, they are important, but failing is never the end of the world. Everyone’s best is different, and trying your best does not mean pushing yourself to breaking point. It is so important to get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and take time out to relax. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, doing something you enjoy can really help put things into perspective. When you’ve got your head down studying, it can be hard to remember that there’s a whole world out there for you to enjoy and explore. Try your absolute best, but it’s okay if things don’t go according to plan.


Finally, good luck! If you do find yourself struggling, remember that Off the Record is here to help, as are your teachers and student support services. You’re never alone, and never be afraid to ask for help. Your mental health is not worth sacrificing for your grades, and whatever happens, you will be okay. 

Jayme :)

Blog written by Jayme Sims

Perry's Body Image Tips

It is Mental Health Awareness Week this week, it’s theme is body image. Watch our video below to hear Perry talking a little bit about body image, as well as some useful tips for if you are struggling with your body image.

If you feel like you need some support, our Listening Support Service may be beneficial - you can fill out a self-referral form here

Banter or Bullying Event

OTR took part in the Banter or Bullying Event held at the University of Bath alongside SARI and Black Families.

Prior to the event, we heard from over 1700 young people living or studying in BANES from our survey entitled “Are you being bullied for who you are - Young people’s experiences of hate.” We were blown away by the response rate of the survey, and what young people have experienced.

The day was separated with many different workshops for both school students and staff. OTR held a workshop based around online bullying and harassment. We had 5 different activities for the young people all of which were used to discuss online discrimination and hate crime; we had an activity using Meme’s, a ‘Dark Web’, Support Cloud, Online Activism activity as well as a Runway For Change. The purpose of these activities was to raise and tackle the issues around online discrimination, hate crime and bullying as well as sharing with young people where they can go should they ever experience this.

We also participated in a ‘speed dating’ type of activity which allowed us, and other services to share with young people what we do, and how they can access our support as well as allowing them to ask any questions they had.

The event closed with a Q&A session with Nikesh Shukla hosted by our very own Youth Forum member and DMYP Renee Weber. Renee and the young people did a fantastic job of asking Nikesh a range of questions from his experience of racism, his childhood and how he uses his position as an author to discuss race and immigration within the UK.

This event allowed us to promote Bath and North East Somerset as an area that challenges discrimination and hate and supports the people that experience this type of behaviour.

Here’s to working and standing together to make change!

“Abuse and hate crime is part of a viscous circle and we need to break it” - Alex Raikes, Strategic Director for SARI

Photo’s from the day

Help make-over our Bath centre!

We want every young person in BANES and beyond to be emotionally healthy, confident and empowered in themselves.

In 2018 we worked with 2,508 young people.  The core outcomes of our work were improvements in young people's communication, confidence, resilience, aspirations and determination, and the prevention of future mental health problems. 99% of young people said they’d recommend us to a friend.

In the last couple of years, we have seen an increase in the demand for our services supporting young people in BANES and our Bath centre has been in much need of a renovation to enable us to continue to run our services.

We have been lucky enough to receive support from a construction company who are supporting us to redecorate the centre and install a new kitchen and storage area however we are in much need of new furniture and soft furnishings to make the centre comfortable and inviting for young people accessing support.

We are fundraising for items such as: a front desk and sofa for our waiting area, comfy chairs for counselling rooms, coffee table, cushions and blankets.

We need your help to make this happen. If you would be interested in supporting our centre’s renovation by donating furniture, or making a money donation please donate via our Localgiving page. All donations are greatly appreciated.

Current photos from our counselling rooms and main waiting area space

Youth Forum campaign for Nightstop

We are the youth forum, a campaign and consultation group who strive to represent young people in our local area. Our campaign currently is raising money for Nightstop, a youth homelessness charity who help house young people who don’t feel safe in their homes for whatever reason. To help the charity, we are hosting a raffle in the near future where we hope to raise money for a really important cause. We understand that many of you have contributed prizes for the raffle already and we’d like to thank you for your contribution. However, if you haven’t yet donated any prizes we’d really love it if you could chip in.

Find out more about Nightstop


Being a Trustee at Off the Record - Tessa Hibbert

Reflections on the March 2019 Board meeting

Studies of governance tend to focus on process and procedure. There is plenty of advice about what our roles and responsibilities should be. And, quite rightly, the way in which trustee boards make their decisions has become the subject of informed debate.

But this month I was more inspired by the thoughts of writer and charity leader, Julia Unwin, who in my view rightly points out that by focusing on process we often forget to ask the crucial questions at the heart of governance.

What sort of board are we?

Are we behaving in the right way at the right time?

What mode are we operating in?

I have been a trustee at Off the Record for the last 6 months; during which time I have seen the board use a number of ‘modes’. A small, diverse and committed group of volunteers, we have harnessed our talents and expertise to both support the leadership of the organisation, and challenge them to evolve it in the course of our mission.

Unwin identifies 5 core ‘S’s’ of charity governance. I decided to see if I could spot them during our most recent Board meeting, held in March 2019.

1.      Support. there are times when the role of the Board is to throw its support behind the charity. One of our newest trustees Rachel Feilden was running the Bath Half Marathon in support of our work (just one of the many ways in which we as trustees try to support the fundraising efforts of the charity). We discussed how we were going to support the charity’s fundraising team on the day of this important local event and cheer on our hardy team of runners!


2.      Stretch. Also on the agenda was a review of our new website and communications. We complimented the team on their work leading the website revamp, and we also asked the leadership team to think more about how we can use the site to improve our transparency and communication about our organisation. Our Chair asked them: how can we maximise its potential as a fundraising tool?


3.      Stewardship. The Finance Committee had already met to review the year end financial projections for 2018-19. As a small charity we can only work 12 to 18 months ahead and we tread a very fine line between securing ourselves against shocks in the future, and maximising our resources in pursuit of our mission. In my view, impartial trustees are the best placed to tread this line with delicacy.


4.      Scrutiny. Trustees have circulated a survey to all staff, to ensure we listen and respond to all our stakeholders. The deadline for return was imminent so we asked the leadership team for an update with timing and discussed how we are going to feedback to staff what we have heard.


5.      Strategy. We have an essential role in  determining not what the charity will do this week, but next year and in all the years to come. At our last meeting we were delighted to hear about a new pilot we are involved in with the University of Bath to provide counselling support to some of their students; we discussed the importance of this piece of work and our relationship with the University in the future.

The fact that we ranged across all these important roles during one short meeting, shows how diverse and wide ranging being a trustee can be – and how important it is. I really benefit from being part of this amazing organisation, and look forward to continuing to play a role on the Board at Off the Record.

You can find out more about Tessa and out Trustee’s here


The ever new world of dyslexia - Spoken word poem

My dyslexia is like  

An iceberg 

Because I cannot 

Decipher it all 

Every particle is 

Fused and cannot be 

Separated from 

Its neighbour 

From the parts of 

Me that’s something else 

From a part of me that’s taken 

What is it that joins to 

Asperses, dyspraxia, ADHD  

And shares me and them 

What takes me to  

Other lands and spaces shared 

With numbers, emotions,  

Words, light, colours, 

Shoaled fish deep below the ice 

Joined together forming  

Something always new 

Pulled in the current together 

Take me to the unseen 

To new sirens  

Giving me new eyes. 

- Written by young person, Maisie

OTR runers at #BathHalf2019

This year was OTR’s biggest and best year yet at the Bath Half Marathon!

We had a grand total of 35 runners; including a big team from King Edward’s School and Prior Park College. All of our runners absolutely smashed the 13.1 mile run and we are forever grateful that they chose to run for OTR!

All money fundraised by our runners will go towards our Listening Support Services that relies solely on donations to continue.

The Listening Support Service provides confidential and independent information and support. Young people tell us they appreciate the ease of access, confidentiality, and ability to talk about whatever they want to express without being judged.

We are still collecting donations via Localgiving - help give us the final push in raising money to support young peoples with their mental health and well-being in Bath & NES.

If you feel inspired and fancy running for us next year, get your place early and email us at:

With thanks to Axis Events for co-ordinating our runners

Photos from the day

An introduction to OTR's Youth Forum

“Hello, we are the BaNES Youth Forum! Our aim is to champion the voice of young people and campaign to make a difference for them. For example, we are currently working alongside the young homeless charity, Night Stop

We have previously campaigned for better Mental Health support for young people, transport and participated in consultation with different sectors of the council.

We are a group of 5-10 young people from a variety of backgrounds and schools who meet every other Monday at 17.15 - 19.15 here at OTR - bath city centre. We will use this blog to keep you updated on what we are up to and any events we have coming up.”

If you are interested in OTR’s Youth Forum , please contact our workers Charlie and Becca on or

Climate change strike @ Bath

On Friday 15th March, a climate change strike took place in Bath city centre. Many students left school to protest for a greener planet.

UK’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove has backed the protesting children saying "Dear school climate strikers, we agree.”

B&NES Deputy Member of Youth Parliament; Renee Weber explains her experience at the strike:

I just attended the climate strike in Bath centre! It was absolutely amazing! I'm so happy that people are standing together on this massive issue! We will continue to strike until our voices are heard! Let's tackle climate change! 💞🌏

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Check out the #YouthStrike4Climate hashtag on Twitter for more images and tweets from those that participated.

If you are interested in taking action and having your voice heard; OTR’s Youth Forum may be for you! Email for more info or to sign up.