OTR's Wellbeing Hub

We are over the moon to announce we will be running Midsomer Norton’s Youth Club! Further expanding our services in Midsomer Norton, to create OTR’s new Wellbeing Hub.

Expanding on our Listening Support, Counselling and LGBT+ Rural SPACE Youth Group in Midsomer Norton, we felt running Norton’s Youth Club was the perfect opportunity for us to further meet young people’s needs within the community.

Young people need a local service where they socialise, feel connected and receive support if required.

The space will be a safe, relaxed environment where young people can sit and chat to staff, friends and peers, socialise, have fun as well as getting involved in themed sessions. There will be opportunities to develop new skills i.e. cook, discuss issues as well as have guest speakers visit.

OTR’s Wellbeing Hub will include;

LGBT+ Rural SPACE Youth Group fortnightly Mondays (for ages 13-21) 6pm-8pm

Listening Support and Counselling every Tuesday and Wednesday (for ages 10-25) 3pm-7pm

Norton Youth Club (NYC) every Thursday (for ages 11-18) 6:30pm-8:30pm

Keep an eye on our website and social media for updates on when the Norton Youth Club is up and running!


If you’d like to support our services such as our Wellbeing Hub, join us at our 25th Anniversary Ball.


We are looking for young people to help us redecorate and refurbish the Youth Club! If you’d like to help us get in contact below:

Name *
Name

Fitting in

It’s a universal fact that we all want to be liked. Human are animals- we like to have our packs, the people who back us up and stick with us when things get tough. But finding that pack can be difficult, and sometimes we feel that all we want to do is fit in. It’s not wrong to not want to stick out in a crowd (it’s human nature after all), but it does become a problem if you’re changing yourself in order to be liked by others.

Fitting in is not about getting other people to like you no matter what the cost- it’s about finding the people who accept you for who you are, and fitting comfortably with them, with your natural differences complimenting each other and bringing out the best in everyone. Fitting in is not about being the same, it’s about celebrating difference, and not shaming anyone or expecting anyone to change so that they fit in.

Wanting to fit in usually comes from starting somewhere new or feeling as though you need other people to validate who you are in order for you to be happy and accept yourself. But here’s the thing- you don’t need other people’s approval to be happy. You don’t need to fit in with others in order to like yourself. It’s a lot lonelier to be around people who don’t love you for exactly who you are than it is to be around no-one at all. Whether you fit in or not is irrelevant to how happy you can be- people who seem to fit in perfectly with those around them are not necessarily happy, and the people who seem to not fit in at all aren’t necessarily unhappy. Whatever the situation is, it’s not a case of you needing to change yourself in order to fit in with other people- it’s a case of finding the people who make you feel as though you don’t even have to fit in at all.

Feeling as though you don’t fit in is difficult, and it can feel lonely, but not fitting in is never your fault. It is never that there is a problem with you, or that you need to change, or that you are ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’ for people. The people who you are trying to fit in with are simply not the right fit for you. You shouldn’t have to fit yourself into someone else’s predetermined mould of what is acceptable, and if you feel like you’re doing that, take a step back and ask yourself some questions.

1.       Are you happy?

2.       Are your wants and needs being met?

3.       Do you find yourself doing things you don’t want to do?

4.       Are you healthy and participating in healthy behaviours?

Trying to fit in can make you feel as though you don’t know the real you anymore, especially if you’ve been trying to fit in for a long time. Think about who are you when you’re by yourself, when you’re playing with your pets, or whoever you are when you’re not trying to make other people happy. Whoever that person is, they deserve to be around people who love and celebrate them for who they are- people who don’t have a mould already sculpted for you to try and shape yourself into. People who are the right fit for you will gently shape you into being the best possible version of yourself, and that’s what good friends do naturally, without even trying.

Whatever situation you are in, Off the Record is here to provide listening support and counselling services to young people in BANES who need it. You can refer yourself to these services here.

Jayme, Student Placement LGBT+ Youth Worker

 

SPACE Summer Event

We held a Summer SPACE Event for our SPACE members. We wanted to provide a fun, safe place for young people to be able to chill, and be themselves.

The day was filled with different activities for young people to get involved in including; making bath bombs with LUSH, paddle boarding with WOLT, circus skills, clothes swap, arts & crafts and not forgetting Aida, our special Drag Queen guest.

If you are a LGBT+ young person in Bath and North East Somerset and would be interested in attending our SPACE group get in contact with our SPACE team!

Photo’s from the day

25 Years of OTR by Phil Walters

25 years series

25 years ago, OTR as a charity started to work in Bath, and today I’ve been thinking and reading about what’s changed over the last 25 years.

In 1994….

On 15th November 1994 Off the Record (Bath) opened its doors for the first time.  So I thought I’d take a look at the sort of things young people might have been up to then…so games consoles had just taken off, with the Nintendo Game Boy being a massive hit with games like Mario and Donkey Kong and the original Play Station launched; Gladiator was the big Saturday night TV show that was watched by millions; with Forest Gump and The Lion King being released at the Cinema; you wouldn’t of likely known anyone with a mobile phone (In 1994, there were 67 mobile phones for every 1,000 people in Britain!).  It was also the year the World Wide Web was born, a.k.a. the Internet as we know it today. There were no smartphones, no iPads, no flat-screen TVs ... and, imagine this, no Google, no Netflix, no Instagram.

The start of OTR…

Today I read through the “First Report” for Off the Record Bath. It covered the first two years of the charity starting out. At the start of the report Clare Chapman recalls the initial few months, and the uncertainty about what young people might want to come to Off the Record for. It spoke about the range of issues young people were wanting to talk about or get help with. Here’s what they were doing;

“We supported young people facing difficult decisions about ending relationships, leaving home, confronting a controlling parent, asking for help from a doctor or quite simply talking about how upset, unhappy and worried they were”

The Chair of the Charity Revd. John Rackley opens the report and talks about why Off the Record was set up, and explains how young people “are often defined by their needs, circumstances, dress or culture”…”Our service addresses the individual in the context of community”

What’s changed for OTR…

We know that young people still come to us for many of the same reasons. Anxiety, family and relationships, as well as school and academic aspirations are the top concerns for young people. Even though the world may look and feel very different for a young person in 2019, with smartphones and social media – the issues they want to talk with us about are very much the same. 

I found it really encouraging to read that we’re still working towards the founding principles of being led by the young person, and addressing them as an individual within their family, educational and community context.

We are however working with many more young people – in 1994 they recorded 994 client contacts, in 2018 we provided 13,060. With our focus on the wellbeing and the emotional health of young people, and the importance of the voice of young person to empower them to be themselves, OTR continues to be a safe place for young people, where they increase their confidence and resilience.

Celebrate with us…

To celebrate our 25th Year we’re working with Axis events to run an Autumn Ball fundraiser – please help us promote it or come along. And if you want to be kept up to date with what’s going on at OTR, please sign up for our soon to be launched

Phil Walters, Director

Trans Teen Survival Guide Book Review

The ‘Trans Teen Survival Guide’ by Owl and Fox Fisher is a very easy to read and informative book for anyone questioning their gender, knows they are trans, or knows someone who is. It is broken down into 20 chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of life as a trans person. It includes the more obvious things, (such as haircuts, hormones, coming out etc) but also some things many young people might not have thought about (such as dealing with the media).

There are several anecdotes from trans men, women and non-binary individuals interspersed throughout. Not all of their experiences have been negative, which may be encouraging to read. Also, the addition of non-binary identities means it could be useful for anyone on the trans spectrum.

Book review by: Eleanor Wilde (Young Person)

Cheap stuff to do in the Summer Holidays

School is out for the summer!!!  Time for parties, pyjama days and long, lazy, lie-ins.  But 6 weeks is a long time!  Once you’ve caught up with sleep, social media and Netflix, what next?

Here are some ideas on cheap ways to have the best summer yet!

Go to the beach

Take a bus or train to Weston Super Mare or Weymouth and spend the day chillin’ on the beach

Window shopping

Even if you haven’t got any money to spend, shopping can still be fun. Go to your favourite shops with friends, try stuff on, take pics and then when you do have money, you will know exactly what to buy.

Go Skateboarding

There are a few good skateparks nearby. Why not try Victoria park or Midsomer Norton Skate park?

Have a Movie Marathon

Never watched the Hunger games, Lord of the Rings, Fast and furious or Twilight films? Invite your friends' round, stock up on snacks and watch them back to back.

Camp in the garden

Pitch your tent in the garden and pull an all nighter. Maybe tell ghost stories and download a scary film or your tablet or watch a chick flick under the stars.

Makeover your bedroom

Chuck out your old stuff, paint a wall, move your furniture around and give your bedroom a new look – it'll make you finally get around to tidying it too!

Have a pamper day

Invite some friends around and set up a home spa!  Make some home made face packs, slice some cucumber, paint each other’s nails and catch up on all the gossip at the same time.

Cook!

Making cup cakes is a great way to spend an afternoon and you have a tasty treat at the end of the day. Or why not think of your favourite Nando’s meal or another takeaway and find a recipe and make it yourself from scratch.

Hang out in the park.

Parks aren’t just for little kids. Set a time and a place, put a shout out to your friends on social media and meet up in the one of the many parks in and around Bath. Bring a picnic, maybe a Frisbee or a bat and ball for a game of rounders

Make a Playlist

The summer holidays is a great time to organise all your music downloads.  Make playlists for different moods, remove the stuff you always fast forward and spend some time researching new music.

Make a movie on your phone

Make a movie or vlog with your friends. There are loads of templates on apps like iMovie which make it really simple and you can have hilarious results.

Get on your bike!

There are great places to cycle around Bath – the two tunnels, the Bath to Bristol cycle path and the Kennet and Avon canal towpath. Either take a picnic, or stop at pubs and cafes along the way.

Let us know if you try out any of these ideas  and if you’ve got any other suggestions  to fun stuff to do in the holidays we’d love to hear them!

Blog by: Jane , OTR SEND Advocate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artemis' Poem

I am mutually exclusive

A basic example that is always used

Not a boy, then a girl

There's no inbetween 

You can see how I got confused

At 8, I cut my hair

Lopped it off from waist to jaw

Upon seeing this, my mum only recalled

Her own past of being mistook for a boy 

 

At 9, I stopped wearing skirts

Not because they weren't to my favour

I loved the long fabric as it fell on my legs

I just disliked that it made me a 'her'.

 

At 12, I started to bleed

And I wept because there is no place

No space in the middle of me

Now a girl, now a woman, a teen. 

 

At 13, I tested the water

That was always too shallow for me

The binary is a small pair of shorts

That never quite reached my knees. 

 

At 14, I changed my appearance

Cut my hair, bought boys clothes, started to bind

Not 'cause I hated my body-

Because I hated what it defined

It is now I struggle to break 

The spoon-fed rules of what to be

I took it all in, the insults, abuse

I tried just to be me. 

 

And I am mutually exclusive 

Stuck in the middle, not 'a' or 'b'

I am what they call 'they'

And that's perfectly OK

I'll continue to choose option 'c'.

 

Artemis, 15 

Starting somewhere new

Hi everyone,

Summer is officially upon us, and I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday- but I’m sure many of you also have a slightly nervous pit in your stomach that comes from starting somewhere new, whether that’s at a new job (like me!), a new school or college, or you’re going off to university. Even just changing year group can be stressful, so don’t feel like your worries aren’t justified. Change is scary for everyone, regardless of what that change is.

Unfortunately, change is pretty much guaranteed, so it pays to try to find a relationship with it that isn’t pure fear. It’s completely natural to feel apprehension towards a change in your life, whether that’s a change in routine, or a change in where you live and what you’re doing. Here are some of my tips for dealing with change, from someone who knows what change can feel like- a scary monster grabbing you by your feet and dragging you into the unknown.

1.       Everyone around you has experienced a big change of some kind, so it’s important to have people around you who can be a listening ear for you if you have any worries, be that friends or family, or even just the cat that you see around your house from time to time. If your worries do overwhelm you though, Off the Record can provide listening and counselling services which you can either refer yourself to online, or you can call them on 01225 312481.

2.       Try and pinpoint what you are specifically worried about. What is it about moving to a new school that scares you? The people? The location you don’t know very well? Not having understanding teachers? From this, figure out what you can practically do about each worry that might make you feel better. Perhaps get in touch with people you know that are going through the same thing, or going to the same place as you, or set up 1-to-1s with teachers so they understand your worries and may be able to help you.  This is essentially the Worry Tree method. This is when you identify a worry, try to find a practical way to get rid of that worry, and then essentially ‘box it up’ in your head once you’ve done all you can to alleviate it. But it is a skill to learn, so don’t panic if this doesn’t work for you. Just give it a go and be proud of yourself for giving it a go.

3.       Think about the last time you were worried about a big change, and how what you were worried about is now the new normal. Nothing is permanent, in the best possible way. So what happens if you don’t like university? You have options- you can change your degree, you can switch universities or you can drop out. If you don’t like your new house? Remember that it is unlikely you will live there forever. The trick is to not fight against change but to fight with it so that you can be as happy as you can so that the change can work out in your favour.

4.       Whatever you’re doing, it can take a while to settle in. I hated my first few months at sixth form, and then it turned out to be some of the best times of my life. The bottom line is that change is scary, regardless of how big or small, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Change is neither inherently good or bad, but it does give us the opportunity to grow as a person and develop some new skills. Even if the change doesn’t work out- what will you learn from it? Think about when things have changed in the past- are you grateful for the change in hindsight? Do you regret it? Even if you do, remember that however you feel is okay- trying to stop yourself from feeling a certain emotion is guaranteed to only make you feel it more intensely. Whether you feel angry, frustrated, happy, relieved or excited- all of those things are normal and natural and you don’t have to feel guilty for feeling them.

Whatever you do, I hope it works out for you. Be patient and kind with yourself, because both your mind and body will need a lot of rest in order to adjust to the change. And remember that if you do want to talk to someone about what you’re dealing with, Off the Record are here to support you.

Written by Jayme Sims, Student Placement LGBT+ Youth Worker

Perry's Journey at OTR

Hello! This is a little blog about myself and my journey through Off the Record (OTR).

I’d like to start off by saying a little about myself and my story leading up to my role. I will walk you through how I found out about OTR and what I gained from them as a young person and as a member of staff.

The beginning, I first found out about OTR through their youth group SPACE, which I found online. Let’s go on a quick flash back to 2013 (don’t worry I have some photos).

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So, in 2013 I attend SPACE for the first time, this was a challenging time for me as I recently came out as gay and was experiencing a tough time at school because of it. At SPACE I found my tribe and was able to express myself and BE myself without judgement. So, a few years went by as a regular member of SPACE. During that time, I was given countless opportunities & empowerment. Some of them was to help interview and take an active role in shaping Off the Record. So, as you can imagine these opportunities are what guided me to applying for the apprenticeship here at OTR. After helping OTR with many things I naturally grew an interest in helping other young people and giving them the support and empowerment, I was given as a young person from OTR.

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During my time as a young person attending SPACE, I got involved in helping Bath Pride, which was a great experience and learning opportunity. Being able to attend and support in Bath Pride was very self-liberating, helping and attending Pride in my hometown, a place that boxed me in and stripped me of my individuality and made me feel less than my peers. Seeing how Pride here in Bath helped me and other LGBT+ people is amazing and something I will always be thankful for.

Now we have covered a little bit about myself and my life before my role here at OTR, let’s talk about my apprenticeship!  So, first things first were the interviews, although scary It was exciting, it was the first step in my career. Using the skills, I had learnt while helping to interview other staff when I was a young person paid off. Once passing phase one of the interview process, I had to prepare and deliver an activity to a group of young people which was terrifying, I found this part of the interviewing process the hardest. I created and delivered an activity on Trans inclusion which in my opinion is something that isn’t spoken about as much as it should be, the young people agreed, and I passed.

Alongside my role I attend college where I studied all year and obtained my youthwork qualification, during these lessons I learnt some “cool” things about many different subjects. That I used practically in my youth groups.

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I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing young people and professionals, learning from both young people and staff alike. I have visited local schools and supported young people in many aspects of their lives.

From attending school/college open days to delivering listening support, are just some of the great things I have accomplished here as a LGBT+ Youth worker and supporting young people going through the same as me and those who just needed someone to listen.

I have had an amazing time working alongside my colleagues here at OTR and have learnt many new things. Since starting my apprenticeship, I was met with endless support and encouragement from not only my team but from OTR as a whole. It has been a pleasure working for Off the Record and being a role model for the young people of today.

So, that’s that, this is how I learnt grew & changed into the man I am today. Now I am off to London to further my career as a Health & wellbeing support worker.

Thank you for reading my story, I hope that if there is anything you can personally take from my journey it’s that anything is achievable and be your most authentic self no matter what life throws at you, you will continue to grow, learn and overcome even life’s most darkest of days.

Thank you, Perry

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OTR celebrating National Volunteers Week 2019

We are celebrating National Volunteers Week 2019! We simply could not do what we do without our amazing volunteers. Last year we supported 2,508 young people. Our volunteers are crucial to the work we provide for young people and their emotional health and wellbeing. The expertise and commitment they each bring to the young people they support enables us to have a hugely diverse range of support available.

Hear from a couple of our volunteers to hear about their experience with volunteering with us:

Alan - OTR Listening Support Volunteer

Alan - OTR Listening Support Volunteer

Alan is one of our Listening Support Volunteers, and volunteers with us every Monday.

How long have you been volunteering at OTR?

Just over a year now, I had my interview in April 2018, started training straightaway and met my first client on the 16th July 2018

What do you get out of volunteering? Why did you decide to volunteer at OTR?

For me it ties in with training to become a counsellor and this sits beside wanting to give something back to my community and the young people in it. I had a long career as a teacher in Bath, have lived in the area for years and having made a career change I wanted to work with young people again. Off the Record was an organisation I had had dealings with through my teaching life and they sprang to mind when I started to look for volunteer opportunities locally. I have a sense of belonging at OTR which is great and as a volunteer we can help to guide so many young people through their own difficulties. There is nothing better than that!

Fondest memory whilst volunteering with OTR?

Sadly, there are never enough biscuits but otherwise I have many good memories. For me though it feels like a really big family and I feel so welcome when I’m there. The young people are what make it special though, the ones who work there and the ones who visit to talk to someone. There are so many good young people around us! 

Your favourite film that you never get tired of is…

Too many to choose from. However, these two are my current favourites.

Old - The Godfather

More recent - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.


Sarah - OTR Listening Support Volunteer

Sarah - OTR Listening Support Volunteer

Sarah is also one of our Listening Support Volunteers. Here’s a bit about Sarah and why she chose to volunteer with us:

How long have you been volunteering at OTR?

5 months

What do you get out of volunteering at OTR? Why did you decide to volunteer at OTR?

I was looking for opportunities to get involved with teenage mental health when I came across OTR. I loved the ethos of offering face to face sessions with young people when they felt they need it the most. Each young person brings their individual struggles and it is great to provide a safe space for them to share these. Taking time out to listen to others and be a small part of their journey is really rewarding.

Fondest memory whilst volunteering at OTR?

The first time a young person told me that they felt they didn't need to come to sessions anymore.

Your favourite film that you never get tired of is…

Rocky Horror Picture Show

We are recruiting for more Volunteers! If you are interested in volunteering with us, come along to our Volunteer Open Day