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A young person speaks up against racial bullying and talks about how a BBC Children in Need funded project has supported them with their mental health

Back in year 9 I started to experience a lot of racism from class mates. Getting phone calls calling abusive names and being told to go back ‘home’. As a young mixed race person living in a white area that took a lot of damage on my mental state.

I started to miss lessons because I was scared of what people were going to say to me and I started to have trouble sleeping. The worst thing was I started to doubt myself, thinking I was dirty because of my skin colour. It didn’t help when people said, “oh I’d kill for your skin colour!”. That just made me feel worse, that everyone was taking pity on me.

I didn’t like talking so I would lock myself away (which became a pattern) and I started to become isolated from everyone. I was living in a fake reality in my head and started to think everyone hated me for the colour of my skin, which didn’t help when it happened in reality!

I first started getting help from the project at the age of 14. This project has been a hot spot for teenagers for years. One of the project workers even came to our school to talk about the centre, the amazing social activities they had on offer and also their support for young people struggling with their mental health.

For me, the project is important because it helps me do what I need to do, I have a tendency to lose hope in myself and feel unmotivated but it helps me get on track. It’s also a safe space where I can be myself and do what I want to do.

At the project, I spoke to a mentor about the racism. She helped me get back into class and build up my confidence, but even now I struggle with body and colour confidence so that’s something to this day I’m still working for. She helped me come out my shell. The whole project has by allowing me to take part in activities meeting new people and doing new things!

The 1:1s helped the most. They helped me see that everything wasn’t my fault. The sessions used to be eye openers even if I didn’t say much at first, it was nice to feel validated.

During covid, the project helped me do my work for English, maths and science. I believe I only passed because of the project helping me do my work over zoom. There was even a rule where I couldn’t be in bed for the zoom call so I had to get ready and get out of bed which helped me a lot.

I used to do walks and talks with one of the mentors mainly in lockdowns, walking around the town getting out my house again after locking myself inside, getting out for a little bit talking about how lockdown has affected me. Once covid rules was lifted slightly the project took a handful of us out for a hike that included map reading and I already knew how to do that so I helped show the others which made me feel good!

I’ve learnt self-resilience from the project and how to look after myself mentally, writing things down like poems really helps me to express myself.

The first poem I wrote I was in lockdown and scared of everything happening.

When I wrote the poem I felt a wash of emotions and compressed memories come back, it was overwhelming and scary but it was nice to remember what I could and approach it in a more logical way. It was quite therapeutic. It is therapeutic.

I’m not sure what’s the next thing I’m gonna do is, I’d like to do more! But at the minute my own mental health is holding me back from that.

Something I want to do is write a song, something on those lines. I like doing music on my guitar learning what not and playing, I’m not the best but I’m learning.

If I were to give a message to other young people, I’d say, anything bad isn’t always your fault. Don’t always blame yourself, you’re just young, you are allowed to make mistakes! You are allowed to be YOU! Who cares what you are or how your dress, be you. And no matter how bad things are it will get better eventually if you take the steps to ask for help.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues covered in this blog, you can find help and support at BBC Action Line here

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