Make Your Mark results are in...

A huge thank-you to every last one of you that voted in this years Make Your Mark ballot. The Youth Forum are proud to announce that we received an incredible 4,948 UK topic votes and 4,963 devolved topic votes. This shows us that young people in BaNES want to have a say and are informed on issues that affect us all both locally and nationally. The British Youth Council and Youth Parliament have totalled these votes up revealing the top five UK issues….

Protect the Environment - 392,487

Tackling Hate Crime - 139,947

Votes@16 - 127,597

Welcome Refugees - 97,676

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - 68,19

The top five devolved issues are;

End Knife Crime - 291,199

Mental Health - 196,293

Curriculum for Life - 139,344

Child Poverty - 131,184

Street Harassment - 74,303

Make Your Mark is only the start of the journey. Your votes will now be taken to the House of Commons where your Member of Youth Parliament will be debating on the topics we should take forward for next years campaigns.

If you want it to be YOU debating at the House of Commons next year make sure you attend our Manifesto Day on the 23rd of November by contacting

Off the Record would also like to say a massive thank you to all the schools and youth clubs who registered and counted votes this year. We couldn’t represent the voices of young people without you.

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

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

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!’

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 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 or 07753891747 

okay cafe bath wellbeing

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-

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 *

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

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