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