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Off the Record

06 Mar 2017

Off the Record

You know that feeling when you have a great meeting and you feel excited as to where it might lead? Well, that happened to us on 1st February when we met the lovely Tiago Brandao from Off the Record, a fantastic charity which offers counselling and support services to young refugees and asylum seekers in Croydon and Sutton. On top of this, Off the Record runs several projects, such as Young Roots (group sessions and activities) and Young Carers (support for young people caring for a family member).

Tiago is a mental health case worker who works with refugees and provides them with one-to-one counselling. He explained that a large percentage of young people he works with suffer from PTSD so they require a lot of emotional as well as practical support.

We really hope that our work at Being ManKind can help these young people and we discussed with Tiago ways in which we might be able to do this. He explained that there are added difficulties when delivering sessions to these groups of young people, for example the cultural and language barrier. Also, we were shocked to hear that mental health is not spoken about in some countries so often these young people find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Can you imagine how difficult it is to not be able to understand or express your emotions in your own language, never mind in a foreign language? This can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration and fear.

Tiago kindly introduced us to Despina Tsiakalou from Young Roots and we are in the process of adapting our lesson plans to suit the needs of her groups. The advantage of our sessions is that they can be used flexibly – they can be adapted to last 20 minutes or 3 hours!

In mid-March we met with Bex Mullins and Mubin Choudhury from Young Carers. We were shocked to learn there are so many young carers in UK, an estimated 3000 in Croydon and 700,000 across UK. Young Carers do wonderful work in providing these young people with emotional support, therapy, homework clubs and fun days out.

We are in the process of seeing how best to use our sessions at both Young Roots and Young Carers. By reading the Being ManKind stories and discussing the issues raised, we hope to help these young people to recognise, understand and talk openly about their experiences and emotions. We look forward to updating you in due course!

Jenny x

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