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Brent Housing Partnership Youth Blog

Brought to you by the'Our Say' Magazine Team and BHP Youth Board

Volunteering in Brent

I was fifteen and I had just finished my GCSE’s so I was blessed with an extra-long summer holiday. Initially, I was excited about making the most of the sun in its amiable mood. However, after a week, I found that having nothing that would take up most of my day was rather tedious. As a result, I decided that I’d throw myself into volunteering.Volunteering

The first thing I did was edit my feeble excuse of a CV (which at the point, merely contained my name, email and hobbies.) I then went to my previous primary school and asked if I could volunteer. I was given the role to help the children learn through play. This meant that for three weeks I built tall towers out of lego, sang nursery rhymes that I had long forgotten and listened to the children read one by one.

Unfortunately, the end of their term marked the end of my volunteering. However, I quickly moved on to Wembley Library. I had various roles including: encouraging people to join the summer reading challenge; data entry and helping out with activities. Admittedly, it could get really hectic but there was never a dull moment.

Most recently, I’ve volunteered at a food bank called Sufra. I helped out preparing food parcels for people though there are a variety of other roles. For instance, there are volunteers who help cooking for the soup kitchen and some who help regarding supermarket collections.

Why would a young person willingly volunteer? After all, it is leaving home – where wifi and food is – and actually putting in effort. The first reason is probably the one which most adults and companies will tell you. These days, just having the right qualifications isn’t enough – employers need proof that you can thrive in a work environment which volunteering helps to show.

Furthermore, volunteering need not be mundane and strenuous. With volunteering in some places, you get the opportunity to: push yourself out of your comfort zone and make friends and talk to people. For instance, at Wembley Library and Sufra I found myself engaged in so many interesting conversations with people I would not have conversed with otherwise. In addition to this, volunteering is a great distraction from all the ailments and problems of everyday life as your mind is engaged doing something productive – other than bingeing on TV shows on your laptop.

If you are considering volunteering, there is a plethora of choices. Why not try Sufra? They do speed volunteer courses occasionally. This requires no commitment on a weekly basis – you just turn up and help for the day. Also, it is worthwhile talking to people you know or going to your old primary school. Furthermore, Brent Libraries take on volunteers so try talking to a member of staff. Another option, is going to a charity shop such as Oxfam.

Overall, if you are about to reach your summer holiday, perhaps consider volunteering.

You can find out more information on volunteering on the Gov.uk website.

Linda Moronfolu

Our Say Spring edition out now

Check out the latest edition of Our Say Youth Magazine with views and interviews by the BHP Youth Board.

Our Say – Spring 2016

Our Say - Spring 2016

Volunteering has changed my life!

Saqlain Kids Run Free

I am totally committed to the concept of volunteering! I am involved in various projects, for example I have been a volunteer since November 2015 at Kids Run Free, a charity which aims to promote an active, healthy and happy lifestyle for children. They provide trained volunteers, equipment and an event card to track your progress.

I can assure you that the experience and journey so far has been one hell of a ride! I joined as a standard volunteer for my interest in sports and especially running. A month later I was promoted to Event Director and was leading a team of five with 20 plus children turning up to sessions.

I have definitely learnt some valuable skills from volunteering and charity work. Interaction, public speaking and confidence are few of many.

Kids Run Free have many venues, there is one location in Gladstone Park, Brent and has running events bi-weekly. There are events on the first and third Saturday of each month at 9am. You can see the Kids Run Free website for more details.

It really is a good and noble cause. You also can help volunteer or simply spread the word so kids in Brent enjoy a healthy Saturday morning instead of ‘playing on an iPad’ for example.

I would like to end on an important point. Volunteering isn’t only good for your CV but it helps self-confidence, belief and inspirations. You develop many life skills which helps you and your brain to develop.

So happy volunteering from me!

By Saqlain Choudry, 16

If you would like to get involved in volunteering with local organisations in Brent, then Volunteering Brent can help find you an opportunity that suits your interests and time available. For more information, contact Theodora on 0300 365 9920 or email enquiry@volunteeringbrent.org.uk. You can also visit the Volunteering Brent website.

 

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Mental health and young people

Mental health pic

The term mental illness is subject to a lot of misconceptions despite efforts to educate society about it. Feeling down for a couple of days is not depression and just because someone likes to be neat does not mean that they have OCD. Depression for some people is not being able to get out of bed because it is too much effort. OCD for some people is washing your hands until they bleed. Mental illnesses are brutal. They are not discriminative of age, gender, social class and culture.

Did you know that according to the Mental Health Foundation, 10 percent of 5 – 16 year olds have a clinically diagnosable mental illness? According to Child’s Trends, 10 percent of adolescents with mental illness have anxiety and 8 percent experience major depression. What is even more worrying about the high prevalence of mental illnesses in youth, is that recorded statistics may only be the tip of the iceberg as some people suffer mental illnesses in silence.

The causes of mental illnesses are not clear cut. Evidence suggests that mental illnesses are a result of the interaction between genes and the environment. People may have genes that make them vulnerable to developing a disease. Certain factors may enhance the expression of genes such as family problems, bullying and exam stress. However, the extent to which the environment and genes are culpable is debated.

Once upon a time, mental illnesses was dealt with in barbaric ways such as insulin shock treatment to induce a coma. What revolutionized treatment of mental illnesses, before the time of drugs was talking therapies. Research suggests that talking about problems may help to alleviate them. You do not have to talk to a therapist or a counsellor – talking to someone who you trust may make a significant difference. Also, exercise has also been shown to correlate with a positive state of mind. If you are a friend of someone who has a mental illness, what you could do is be there for them. You should not expect them to miraculously change back over night, but neither should you lose hope about their chances of remission.

The first step to dealing with a mental illness officially is going to the GP and explaining your symptoms. A doctor will diagnose you with a mental illness if you fit the criteria. Drugs to treat mental disorders are not usually prescribed for under 18 year olds because evidence had suggested they have an adverse effect. However, a GP is likely to refer a patient to a therapy.

Now in Brent, GP’s can refer young people from 11 – 21 years to the Brent Centre. Most of their services are on the basis that a young person is referred either by the GP or teacher. The services offered are psychotherapies which is the broad term for therapies that treat emotional and mental health issues. The Brent Centre has a lot of bases, including schools such as Preston Manor.

If you want to find out more information about what Brent Centre do and how you can locate them, please visit their website: http://www.brentcentre.org.uk/

For more information about mental illnesses please go to the following websites:
http://www.mind.org.uk/
http://bit.ly/1V6egFo

by Linda Moronfolu, 17

A level too far?

As we get closer and closer to the freedom of the summer months, the holidays are still a distant dream for the many 17 and 18 year olds taking public exams this May and June. For many Year 13 students, a process over two years in the making will culminate this summer, with the results determining where students will go to university.

In the next few weeks there will be a mass scramble for coffee and revision guides as students everywhere attempt to consolidate hours and hours of work in time for five or six exams.

As a Year 12 student, thankfully my final exams are over a year away. However, this summer will mark one year until the first exams for the new A levels. For those who don’t know, for many core subjects such as English, Chemistry and Physics, the AS qualifications will have
no influence on the final A level grade, which will be based solely on exams or coursework completed in the second year. Despite this, schools like mine, are still making their students take them in hope of preparing us for the real things. It is a surreal experience to be the ‘guinea pigs’ for such a huge change that could lead to a huge number
of retakes after Year 13. This could make it harder for some students to get into university or could lead to an increase in the acceptance of students to top universities as grades are now worth ‘more’.

The importance of the exams will add an extra layer of pressure and expectation to already stressed and lethargic teenagers.

In the past, you could ‘mess up’ your AS and redeem yourself at A level. However it seems that students don’t have that luxury now, something which scares a lot of young people. For the next year and a half, revision and testing is a leap into the dark as only on
results day will you know if it paid off. Good luck to all those completing their A levels this
summer and to those in Year 12, see you in August 2017.

Samara Roach-Keiler, 17

The Carnival of Madness

When you imagine a rock concert you normally picture fans with tattoos, leather jackets, brightly coloured mohawks and mosh pits. Being somebody who has experienced a fair number of rock gigs, it’s safe to say that this picture is almost exactly right.

The Carnival of Madness tour, headlining ‘Black Stone Cherry’ and featuring ‘Shinedown’, ‘Halestorm’ and ‘Highly Suspect’, came to our very own Wembley Arena on February 4 Our Say - Carnival of Madness2016, creating a euphoric atmosphere from the fans of all of the bands performing. The best thing about rock concerts, and concerts in general, is the dedication shown by the fans who queue up for hours in order to be in that front row, the faces that know all the words and the way everybody is carried away by the music.

Unfortunately, I had to exchange my standing tickets for seated tickets, even though I was very ready to queue up from the morning until 5pm when doors opened. Although sitting down definitely sacrificed a part of the experience, I was still able to enjoy it because we weren’t seated very far from the stage. If you haven’t been to a gig or a concert yet, I definitely recommend it; the bass drum will sync with your heartbeat, you’ll be screaming the lyrics into the crowd and you’ll remember the lighters waving in the air like stars in the sky.

Deveeka Yadav, 16

Report says Brent’s youngsters are on the up

A recent report says that Brent is among the best areas of the country for poor and disadvantage young people to realise their potential.

This is according to the Index for Social Mobility which is a report put together by the Government. It says that Brent stacks up well against cities, towns and rural areas across the UK for the opportunities it offers young people in the local area to get into a good job and a enjoy a decent standard of living.

This is in stark contrast to some of the richest parts of the UK with well-off places like Oxford, Cambridge and Northampton where poorer youngsters do less well.

The report looks into a range of 16 different factors for every area, including educational results of young people from poorer backgrounds and the jobs and homes held by adults.

From A Levels to interviews at Oxford University

I am in my second year of A Levels in Biology, Psychology and Chemistry. At the moment, I have just come out of the other side of applying for university through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). UCAS has the power to make someone doing their second year of A Levels regret all their academic shortcomings.2015-12-15_10.12.32[1]

I started back in college at September. Initially, people were happy to see all their friends and to be back again. Some people actually complained that summer was full of perpetual boredom. I was ready to embrace UCAS; to deal with whatever it wanted to throw my direction. Indeed, I was naive. As the month wore on, applying to university as well as dealing with the hefty second year A Level workload, proved to be immensely difficult.

The autumn term turned out to be saturated with: reading up about Psychology (what I have applied to study at university); declining offers to hang out with friends; preparing for an entrance tests and stressing about my personal statement. By the end, I had 20 personal statement drafts, so many notes on Psychology, four conditional offers and an interview at Oxford University who are well known for asking challenging question.2015-12-14_14.09.48[1]

When I went to my interview at Oxford, it was an amazing experience. I was in a beautiful city where there were as many book stores on one road as there are chicken and chip shops on Wembley High Road. All the buildings looked as if they came straight out of a fairy tale. I made sure that all the time that I was not being interviewed, I spent out, exploring. My interviews were rather weird. I got asked to draw several graphs and was asked about light intensity.

By December, I was completely worn out. I felt as if I definitely earned the right to relax and rest – only it was not to be a holiday. No, I could not afford to not revise for my mocks and actually rest properly.

Now my mocks are over and I have finished applying for university. However, the work has not ended there. I have to get the grades now…so basically from now and over the next couple of months I will be revising.

By Linda Moronfolu, aged 17, Our Say Team

The Spinners Lounge Interview – DJ Radlett

Watch local DJ and Brent Resident DJ Radlett talk about his love for the borough, as well as his love for helping young people in the community.

 

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