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



My Body Is My Story

 I am a canvas

A blank slate for my tale to be told

My Tabula Rasa

For which I am the master

 

Scars are my battle wounds from wars of long ago

Fighting an enemy at the time I didn’t know

But I won those wars

Conquered the demons and pushed them aside

Now I wear my scars as a symbol of pride

 

The ink that dons my body

Memories not to be consigned to oblivion

Points in time where I made my name

From honours to sin

Lessons and mistakes, all the same

A lifetime of work, etched into my skin

 

Stretch marks and Cellulite

Signs of my growth as an individual

My hair and piercings

Projections of my personality

Each detail highlighting a moment

A moment that changed who I wanted to be

 

Every inch of my being

Owns something I’m proud of

Be it a milestone

An achievement

Survival of a trying time

It is honoured

It is worn with pride

 It has it’s rightful place on my canvas

My piece of art

 

My body is my legacy

A chronicling of my growth

My ascension into being the best I can be

Laden across me, free for all to see

I am the Aviana Tapestry

Join us to celebrate our 25th Anniversary Ball

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Join us as we celebrate 25 years of Off the Record Bath and North East Somerset.

We are hosting a Ball at the Apex Hotel, Bath. Tickets are priced at £65 per person and includes a sparkling reception, 3 course dinner with wine as well as entertainment and dancing.

For ticket enquiries please fill out the form below:

Name *
Name

Izzy wins Outstanding Apprentice of the Year

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On Thursday 23rd May Isabel Baker (Izzy) was awarded the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year (Service Sector - Public, Private & Charitable), at the Bath & Bristol Apprenticeship Awards. And we think it was totally deserved – We appointed Izzy in 2018 to help OTR become more digitally relevant and present. Izzy has supported us to launch a new website, consulted and managed a new logo for OTR, and also driven our social media traffic to be consistent, relevant and engaging.

OTR exists to promote the wellbeing and voice of young people, and last year we made the decision that we needed to invest in becoming more digitally relevant. And what better way to do this than recruiting a young apprentice to guide us in that process. We’re constantly trying to challenge ourselves to be more youth led and involved as an organisation, and Izzy has brought this to us in abundance. We’re so delighted and proud that she was awarded with the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year (Service Sector - Public, Private & Charitable).

Where we can, OTR considers if apprenticeships can support us as an organisation to better achieve our goals. This month we’re celebrating our other apprentice Perry Evry, who in June 2019 is moving on from OTR after completing their youth work apprenticeship with our LGBT+ team. If you and your organisation ever has the chance to recruit a young apprentice then we would absolutely recommend it – they bring energy, fun, enthusiasm and for us, focus on the beneficiaries we’re working with. If you’d like to talk to me about our experiences at OTR and apprenticeships, please do get in touch.

Volunteer Open Day

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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.

Our Listening Support volunteers provide advice, support and guidance to young people aged 10-25 on any issue they would like support with. We provide full training and induction to the role and ongoing supervision.

Also, we are seeking volunteers to help with our youth groups – this will include attending group sessions and supporting with trips; previous trips have included Bath City Farm, bowling, boating trips and The Houses of Parliament.

More information on our open day can be found here

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 (https://quizlet.com/en-gb), 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 (https://getrevising.co.uk/planner) 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 (https://www.forestapp.cc) - 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