Why should you run for Member of Youth Parliament?

There are a million reasons why you should run for Member of Youth Parliament, but first we should start with the question; what is a Member of Youth Parliament? Being a Member of the Youth Forum, or an MYP, gives you the opportunity to represent the Youth voice at a local and national level. All too often the voices of young people are drowned out by the hubbub of politics and the media. Being an MYP provides a platform that cannot be ignored. Being an MYP makes a clear statement that young people are passionate, engaged and opinionated on the issues that impact them and their communities.

BaNES Youth Forum, hosted by Off the Record, are looking for a new MYP, to represent their constituents. There is often the misconception that young people don’t care about politics or understand what is going on in their local area. You may even feel like this to, but this simply isn’t true. Does the price of a bus ticket frustrate you? That’s politics. Are you worried about plastic pollution or the environment? That’s politics. Do you just hate getting up for school early in the morning? You guessed it, that’s politics. There are no exact criteria to what makes a fantastic MYP, you don’t need to be the most confident, the loudest or the top of your class. You don’t even need a firm grip on how our political system works. All you need is the desire to make change, to be able to work with the Youth Forum and to be committed to fulfilling your duty to those who vote for you. 

As an MYP you will be expected to attend the Youth Forum every other Monday evening at the Off the Record office, for those of you who may not know where this is, we are based on Manvers street, near the bus and train stations in Bath. The Youth Forum will support you with your campaigns and you will support them with theirs. This is an exciting group where each week is different. You may be securing raffle prizes, working with local council members or charities, or even planning an event. You will attend the British Youth Council annual conferences. These are a great opportunity to meet and hang out with all the other MYP’s and young change makers across the South West and experience and take part in workshop and debates.

Perhaps the most exciting part of being an MYP is the yearly Annual Sitting held at the House Of Commons. During this visit you will get the chance to take part in debates in the chamber. This is chaired by the Speaker of the House and often sees many a Politian pop in and spend some time listening.

So if you think that this sounds like its for you then attend our manifesto day on the 23rd of November to put yourself in the running. To confirm your spot just email CharlotteFarnham@offtherecord-banes.co.uk.

PS- Like the sound of The Youth Forum but don’t fancy being MYP? That’s okay, the Youth Forum are looking for new members. Just get in touch to join by emailing CharlotteFarnham@offtherecord-banes.co.uk

Niall Bowen current Member of Youth Parliament- ‘ Participating in Youth Forum has been an eye-opening and rewarding journey. I’d like to encourage anyone who has a passion for making a difference to head along to Manifesto Day in November!’

Exercise and Mental Wellbeing - #MentalHealthAwarenessDay

I’m here today to talk about exercise and the positive impact it can have on people’s wellbeing and mental health. There are lots of studies which have shown that doing physical activity can improve mental health. For example, it can help with:

·        Sleeping better – by making you feel more tired at the end of the day

·        Feeling happier – physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy

·        Managing stress & anxiety – being physically active gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times

·        Better self-esteem – being more active can make you feel better about yourself as you improve and meet your goals

·        Reducing the risk of depression – studies have shown that doing regular physical activity can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a period of depression

·        Connecting with people – doing group or team activities can help you meet new and like-minded people and make new friends.

Some of the OTR team have written about what they do to be active and feel good.

Charlie – Participation Development Worker     

After a stressful week at work I like to explore different places in the UK. I have an app on my phone that is always telling me off for not achieving my 10,000 steps a day, so I use the weekend to try and make up for this! I google different destinations to visit and set off. My favourite places to wonder around are castles, Glastonbury Tor and different woods. I find that being outside makes me feel calmer and I can breathe in the fresh air and let some of my worries go. You never know what you will find, this tyre swing was an added bonus.

Clare – SEND Advocate & Participation Development Worker

I like to walk my dogs in the mornings as it helps to clear my head and prepare for the day ahead, I spend lots of time outdoors busying about, the fresh air and open spaces make me feel more relaxed and have a positive impact on my mental health.

Harriet R - LGBT+ Service Lead

For me, sport (which now takes the form of rugby, for Bath Rugby Ladies) but I have played netball in the past and go to classes, gym, swim etc. Sport and physical activity is so powerful in a number of ways.

For this blog, I am linking the benefits of sport to the 5 ways to wellbeing and highlight the benefits!

1.      Take Notice - Through sport I have been able to feel positive about my body and what it can do. I love that rugby encourages me to get outside and notice and appreciate nature, the seasons change, the amazing moon, the grass and even the MUD!  

2.      Connect- a team sport creates a great social connection and team spirit and encouragement and community to be part of and proud of #rugbyfamily!

3.      Be active – to feel good, being in your body and physically active takes you out of your mind and thoughts and releases endorphins (I call these head dolphins!) which lift your mood and energy levels. How?... well, that's easy this includes running, tackling and additional training and gym sessions to stay match fit - I try to make these fun and varied including trampolining and yoga to mix up cardio and flexibility and recovery, take a friend to make it a social event too!

4.      Keep Learning- whether through swapping sports or mastering a new technique or skill this can happen by trying something new - I recently became a level 2 coach and learnt to jump in the lineouts after nearly 4 years of playing and it was SO much fun, if not a little scary, but I was so proud when I did it! 

5.      Give- find fulfilment in helping others, whether this is helping a newbie learn how to pass or making a big tackle to help the team out, this is massive part of my rugby life. I have taken up a volunteer coaching role with mixed ability ladies team which is such a lot of fun, it really boosts my mood every Thursday! 

You never know what else taking part in sport or physical activity will bring, from friends to learning new skills. Go on give something new a try!


Harriet B – Advocacy Development Worker

I never used to do much exercise as I couldn’t find anything I enjoyed. I started going to the gym a few years ago but didn’t know what to do when I was there and felt really self-conscious. Then I gave a group weightlifting class a go and absolutely loved it. This made me join my local Crossfit gym and I wish I had found it sooner!

It helps me:

Feel strong – Crossfit has shown me that I am physically and mentally stronger than I thought, and it feels great to learn a new skill and achieve my goals. Exercise can be a great way to achieve things you didn’t think you could which hopefully leaves you feeling empowered and proud of yourself.

Feel confident – Since starting to exercise I have learnt to appreciate my body for what it can do rather than being worried about what it looks like.

Be part of a community – Crossfit has given me a community of people to work out with and it’s great to support each other and feel encouraged by other members of the gym. Exercising on your own can feel scary so finding a community or friend to do it with is a great way to motivate yourself and connect with others.

Clear my head – Sometimes I have lots of things going around in my head but exercising always allows me to let out some energy and clear my head. Even if I just go for a walk, I come home feeling my mind is clearer and I’m more relaxed.

Sleep – I used to really struggle to sleep well but since starting to exercise regularly I sleep really well and feel more awake in the mornings which allows me to be more productive during the day.


Jayme – Student Placement LGBT+ Worker

Exercise has always been a funny one for me - I've never been the kind of 'get up and go' person who can make it to the gym for 7am and run on a treadmill for however long. I think those people are great, but it took a while for me to realise that going to the gym is just one of many ways you can exercise. I've also had to frame exercise as something that can improve my mental wellbeing, rather than as an effort to try and change how I look. That's why I have really enjoyed doing Yogalates since starting at Off the Record - there's no pressure for me to do everything perfectly, and at the end we do a mini meditation where we all lie down and clear our heads. This has been so helpful for picking my mood up mid-week - everything can get so busy and stressful, and as people, I feel like we're constantly anticipating what's about to happen next, and meditation and yoga is perfect for reminding us to live in the moment and appreciate what's going on around us.

It's also a great confidence builder when you can feel yourself getting stronger and more flexible as the weeks go on, and you find yourself being able to do poses you never thought you would have been able to do. It's a small reminder that you can often do more than what you expect, and that does wonders for mental wellbeing in general. Now I go home and try to set aside a few times a week to watch an exercise tutorial on YouTube that I can follow along at home - I don't have to be worried about not having the fanciest gym kit, I just do what I can, when I can, and knowing I'm doing what I can to look after my body is good for my mental health too. 


Jane – Advocate & Youth Voice

Exercise is really important to me to reduce levels of stress and maintain my mental health. I do regular body conditioning and Zumba classes at Bath sports and Leisure centre which I find really good for relieving tension in my neck and shoulders, and I and also play netball on a Wednesday night. The netball is part of the ‘Back to Netball’ movement which aims to get women who perhaps played netball at school to start playing the game again. We are a wide range of ages and abilities and its really good fun. I think playing a team sport adds an extra dimension in terms of wellbeing and mental health. It’s great cardiovascular exercise but sociable too. We laugh a lot and I always leave the session feeling de-stressed and invigorated! We are always looking for new members so come along on a Wednesday night at Ralph Allen school at 7pm!

Lindsay – Listening Services Administrator

So I like trail running because:

·        I like being able to run as far as I can see

·        It makes me feel physically strong and resilient

·        I have to storm through all kinds of weather & it makes he happy to be outdoors

·        It’s a guaranteed mood changer



Nat – LGBT+ Development Worker

I guess I never really knew or noticed how much sport meant to me until I didn’t do it. I was 4 months pregnant (and visibly so) and had to stop running around chasing a hard ball, with a large stick (yes, I’m aware that makes me sound a bit like a dog?!). It was the first time in over 20 years that I hadn’t dedicated/sacrificed/lost (depending on your opinion - I choose dedicated) almost every day of the week, to sport in some way. (I could go into a list of sports, the reasons why and the transferable ’skills for life' gained but I’m conscious that would be moving into a novel rather than a blog post!)

Don’t get me wrong, I had bigger and better priorities being pregnant and all but it wasn’t until Baby R was 4 weeks old (all having gone well and continuing so), when my mum asked me ’When are you going back to hockey?’, did I realise it’s importance 😄 Mum has a tactile way with words luckily 😉 but now being aware of its impact on both my physical and mental health, this has helped in the ‘remembering to look after myself’ part of life! Quite simply, if I’m feeling miserable, I need to move more!

So, when asked to write a blog for World Mental Health Day about sport and my mental health, it led to me reflecting on my long-standing relationship (seems fitting to call it so) with sport and the importance of it within my identity. It took quite a while to sift through many a memory (mostly factual 😂) and seems fitting that as I write this, I’m watching World Athletics Champs on the screen. Sport is my happy place, my go-to, my comfort blanket. Yes, the competitive element obviously has some appeal to me but that isn’t the only thing. I don’t do it to be the best, regardless of not having all the required skills and talents to do so – although some ex-teammates are representing national veteran teams now, so I’m holding out for my international cap 😆

I think my key message would be there’s not much better than doing something* you love/enjoy/appreciate (whatever language suits you), makes you happy and clears the head. In a busy world, it’s important to take time for fun 🎉🙌

*And I know doing something feels hard to do, it’s ok to be kind to yourself. When it feels right, do it then and do it well 😊

If you feel like you are struggling with your mental health and need some support and advice, fill out a self-referral form to us here

OTR's Youth Forum's next campaign

A note from OTR’s Youth Forum:

“For our next campaign we have decided that we would like to focus on Mental Health. This is a topic that is close to many of our hearts, and something we have previously campaigned about. We are really excited to put of heads together and decide how we would like this campaign to run over the next few weeks. There are a lot of points that we are taking into consideration before we dive in. It’s really important to us that we learn as much as we can about Mental Health and well-being before we embark on this journey. That is why we have been visited by Bath Mind to talk about the way we use language and to learn more about how their service works. We have also had a chat with Louise from Off the Record and we will be practicing some well-being tips and tricks. We were surprised to learn that 1 in 4 people are negatively effected by mental health, we’d like to work towards ending the stigmatism and misinformation that surrounds wellbeing. We want to spread that message that everyone has mental health and that it is important to look after yourself. You are you brain!”


Struggling with your mental health?

When you are struggling with your mental health, you can feel very isolated and alone. It’s important to remember that most people will struggle with their mental health at some time in their lives and there are lots of resources and support out there for you.

Friends and Family: If you can, talk to a friend, teacher or family member about how you are feeling. They can be a really great support network for sharing your worries and helping you to find the support you need.

Talk to your GP : Your GP can refer you to mental health services such as counselling or mindfulness training or prescribe medication if needed.

Contact Off the Record : Call: 01225 312481 Text: 07753 891 745. We provide free, confidential, listening support and counselling sessions for young people in B&NES who are between 10-25 years. You can complete an online self referral form and we will call or text you to arrange your first session

There are many online and telephone helplines you can access including:

Childline - Phone: 0800 1111

Free 24 hour 1 to 1 call and chat service

Samaritans- Phone: 116 123

Free 24-hour helpline and 1-to-1 chat support


Counsellors available until 10pm every day. Free, safe and anonymous online counselling for young people.

No Panic. Phone (ages 13–20): 0330 606 1174

Charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Other Self Help Resources

Mind have a wide range of self help resources you can access online. They include advice about how to cope with anxiety, depression and panic attacks and offer practical ideas on how to look after your own mental health.

If you are in crisis and feeling suicidal, go to any Accident and Emergency Department or dial 999 and ask for an ambulance to take you to A&E

Make Your Mark Ballot

The Youth Forum would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone, who has taken part, in this years Make Your Mark ballot. Thanks to all your involvement, young peoples voices across the South West will be represented at a local and national level. Taking an active role in youth democracy, whether as a school, youth group or young person, helps todays children take charge of their futures and the sort of world they want to live in. If you have not yet registered your Make Your Mark results, remember you have until noon on Wednesday the 9th to do so!

If you would like to find out more information about the Youth Forum please email:


Okay Cafe - Bath's first wellbeing cafe for under 25's

We are so happy to be establishing the first wellbeing café for under 25’s in Bath. The café aims to be a safe space for young people (aged 13-25) who are struggling with their mental health, providing opportunities for them to meet up, relax, make new friends, share experiences and develop new ways of talking and coping. The café will offer reasonably priced hot/cold drinks and snacks and is open to any young person who needs support with their mental wellbeing. The café will be staffed by our qualified counsellors, listening support workers, youth workers and volunteers. A range of activities will be on offer each week and young people will have the opportunity to shape the development of the café. 

The sessions will run on Fridays weekly from 4pm-6.30pm in The Open House café Manvers Street Baptist church.  The first session will be held on Friday 11th October to mark World Mental Health day (10th Oct), the day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. This session will include free wellbeing goodie bags to the first 30 young people that attend as well as vouchers for a free drink and snack for the inaugural Okay Café.  

The sessions have been initially funded by kind donation of the venue from Manvers Street Baptist Church, and a start-up fund from Altus consulting as well as a grant from the Quartet Community Foundation. To help us ensure the sustainability of this new service the public can also make one off donations via our Facebook page:  


Or set up a monthly donation via Localgiving https://localgiving.org/charity/offtherecord/ Just the cost of a cuppa and cake can help us reach and support more young people in the local area.  

Phil Walters, our Director has said “OTR has 25 years experience of improving the emotional health and wellbeing of young people. We are delighted that this new venture enables us to continue our work giving those under 25 across BANES the opportunity to drop in and get the support they need in a relaxed and accessible environment. Last year OTR supported over 2500 young people to increase their confidence and resilience – this year we hope to reach and support even more young people.”

For more information about the Okay Café please contact Alice Hoyle on alicehoyle@offtherecord-banes.co.uk or 07753891747 

okay cafe bath wellbeing

B&NES anti - racism creative writing competition

This autumn, as part of Black History Month, a special play is coming to Bath: ‘Getting the Third Degree’ will be on at the Rondo Theatre Bath on 13th November & Prior Park College on 14th November. (see Getting the Third Degree – Rondo Theatre)

The play is written by award winning playwright Dougie Blaxland and it tells the powerful and deeply moving story of Laurie Cunningham who came to prominence with West Bromwich Albion in the late 1970’s. The first of the black footballing trio famously dubbed The Three Degrees - Laurie Cunningham with his swaggering style and dazzling skills forced favourable comparisons with the legendary Pele. The first ever millionaire black footballer, the first player of colour to sign for the mighty Real Madrid and only the second to win a full cap for England - he inspired a whole generation of young black players to follow in his pioneering footsteps. 

Getting The Third Degree also explores how Laurie and his fellow black players - Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis - triumphed over the racial abuse and physical threats often orchestrated by The National Front through a potent combination of footballing brilliance, charismatic style and compelling dignity.

With the resurgence of racial abuse at football matches and in wider society in the UK playwright Dougie Blaxland believes that “although Getting the Third Degree dramatises events that took place over 40 years ago, the issues that the play raises are every bit as relevant today as they were then.”  And that’s where the idea of a local creative writing competition came from.

The creative writing competition

The B&NES anti- racism creative writing competition is free to enter, open to young people from Year 1 – Year 13, of all abilities.

We want to encourage participants to think about racism and produce their own creative writing piece about this serious issue. It could be a piece of prose, or poetry.  A play script or a story - if it’s about racism, and how to overcome it - we want to see it!  You might want to base it on real life events within Getting The Third Degree - and research what happened to Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis at West Bromwich Albion - or you might want to cover something entirely different – it’s up to you.


Prizes include family tickets to a Bath City Football match and signed footballs – and the winning entries will be published on the councils website.   

Rules for entries

  • There are four age categories as detailed below:

Category 1: Years 1-4

Category 2: Years 5-6

Category 3: Years 7-9

Category 4: Year 10-13

  • Entries can be individual or group.

  • Maximum entries from schools – 3 per age category class. (Schools will need to select the entries they wish to put forward into the competition).

  • Maximum length of entries 500 words.

  • Entries should be emailed to Equality@bathnes.gov.uk; (Please scan and send paper entries electronically).

  • Deadline for entries – Friday 20th December 2019

  • The judging panel will include award winning playwright Dougie Blaxland (writer of Getting the Third Degree) and also colleagues from Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI).

  • Winners to be announced by Friday 31st January 2020.

Your member of Youth Parliament, Niall

member of parliament bath .jpg

Your Member of Youth Parliament, Niall, has put his name forward as a candidate to debate at the House of Commons! Here’s what he has to say:

“In this precarious time, young people have to be the engineers of change and must make their mark. I relish having the ability to ensure this happens, spearheading mandated change at a local and national level. I am passionate because young people should be heard at every layer of society.”

If you’d like to be in with the chance of being the next MYP look out for details of our manifesto day, taking place on the 23rd of November. For more info contact- CharlotteFarnham@offtherecord-banes.com

How to talk about mental health

Around the time of World Suicide Prevention Day and other mental health awareness days like it, it is often said that one of the best ways to manage your mental health is to talk to others if you need support. However, how do you exactly have these conversations?

It is not always as easy as just opening your mouth and talking about what’s going on in your head, so here are some suggestions of how to start these conversations, in ways that may be helpful to you.

1.      Are you able to talk to someone who you feel will support you? There are lots of people you can confide in if you feel like you need to talk- parents, friends, extended family, teachers and organisations such as Off the Record, Childline and Samaritans who will listen to you and support you. If you go to school, there’s likely to be a pastoral support worker who you can make an appointment with, or a teacher who can direct you to them. The key is to find someone you trust, who you think will be understanding and supportive, as even if they don’t have all the answers, they’ll be able to help you in finding the right support.

2.      How would you like to start that conversation? Do you want to write everything down and put it in a letter? Or perhaps send a text, an e-mail, or make a phone call? Talking to someone about mental health does not have to be a face-to-face conversation if you don’t want it to be- it’s about how you feel most comfortable communicating. You could send a text/e-mail like:

“Hi (name of trusted person), if you feel able to I would really appreciate having a chat about some things that have been going on with my mental health recently. Would you be able to have a chat about that? “

Or if you are having a face-to-face conversation, for example with a teacher or parent, you could say:

“Do you mind if we have a chat for a few minutes? I’m struggling with my mental health at the moment, and it would mean a lot if we could talk about it.”

We would always hope that someone we trust has the time to talk to us about something like mental health, but sometimes friends in particular may feel nervous about having this conversation, or it might be too difficult for them due to their own personal boundaries and experiences, or a family member might be busy when you say you want to talk- it is important to remember that just because one person can’t talk to you for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean no-one else will talk to you, or that you don’t deserve to have that space to talk about mental health. Perhaps make a list of people you trust to try to talk to, just in case the first person you talk to says they are unavailable.

3.      What would you like that person to know?

-How long have you been struggling with your mental health for?

Are you experiencing anxiety, low mood, stress, hallucinations, problems eating? Or anger, feeling out of control, trapped? It can be hard to think about your exact feelings in the moment, so maybe think about what you’re experiencing beforehand so you know what to say.

-What is your mental health affecting? Is it affecting relationships with partners, family, friends, or affecting your schoolwork, uni-work, job? Are you able to sleep and eat?

-Has something happened that has triggered this for you? You may not feel comfortable discussing this, and that’s okay. It’s just something you could answer if you would like to.

-In particular if you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or others, this is important to mention if you are comfortable talking about this. The other person will need to know this if they are going to ensure you are safe- particularly if they are a trusted adult.

Talking about mental health can really help, and hopefully these ideas have given you some suggestions on how you can bring up that conversation with someone in your life. There is always someone who will listen to you, for example:

Childline- 0800 11 11

Switchboard LGBT+- 0300 330 0630

Off the Record- 01225 312481

Samaritans- 116 123 or jo@samaritans.org


Check out this brilliant video ‘Small Talk Saves Lives - Everyday small talk’ by the Samaritans

However, in a crisis, always call 999 or Samaritans so that you can receive support and help quickly. Talking about mental health struggles can be difficult, but it is a very brave thing to do. Asking for help is always a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

Jayme, Student Placement LGBT+ Youth Worker

Are your GCSE results not what you wanted?

Have you got your GCSE results and haven’t got the grades you wanted?

Don’t know what you are going to do next?

Don’t despair, here are some things you can do…

Talk to your school:

If you don’t get your predicted grades, talk to your tutor or other staff at school on the day. They will have plenty of experience of students in your situation and will be able to advise you. This may mean appealing your grades, resitting your exam, choosing a different sixth form or A level, or something else.

Consider moving schools for 6th form:

Different Schools offer different A level courses – if you don’t get the GCSE grades you need to do your chosen A levels at your current school, why not contact other schools nearby or consider doing different A levels? Some schools will allow you to retake your GCSEs so that you can try again to get the grades you want.

Investigate FE College:

There are a number of FE colleges nearby - in Bath, Midsomer Norton, Bristol, Trowbridge and Lackham College near Chippenham.  They provide a huge range of courses and apprenticeships. Look at their web sites to see the courses they have on offer. If you haven’t got the entry requirements for the course you like, don’t despair. Some course leaders will be flexible and sometimes you can retake some GCSE exams at college whilst also joining another course part time.

Consider a traineeship or Apprenticeship:

If you have a good idea of what job you’d like to do, then an apprenticeship or traineeship might be best for you. Contact local employers, recruitment agencies and job centres. You can also search for apprenticeships and traineeships through the government website @ www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship or https://www.gov.uk/find-traineeship

Contact local support services:

Youth Connect are a local service providing support for those who may need help getting into training, education or employment. This is provided by qualified engagement workers who can help with information about next steps to colleges, other training providers, apprenticeships and jobs. They are running drop in sessions at various locations around Banes in August, September and October

For more information call 01225 396980 or email YouthConnect_SupportServices@bathnes.gov.uk 

Daystop at the YMCA also nave a weekly job club on Wednesday mornings from 10-12. Find more information at https://ymcabathgroup.org.uk/about/what-we-do/daystop/

The Princes Trust offer careers advice, courses, help getting a job or starting your own business. Contact them at https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/

You can look for apprenticeships through the government website here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship

Good to know: there is a 16-19 Bursory Fund which you can use to pay for course related expenses such as equipment, books and transport. Find out more @ https://www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund

If you have an Education, Health and Care plan you are entitled to support from an independent advocate. Contact clarejones@offtherecord-banes.uk or text 07872992881 for more information

If you are struggling to cope and need to talk, please contact us and access our listening support or counselling services. You can fill out a Referral Form here

Missing out on the GCSE grades you wanted isn’t the end of the road.  It is the beginning of a new route or a minor diversion in the pathway to your future!

Jane, SEND Advocate