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Clara’s story

18-year-old Clara reflects on her time at the Oasis Youth Centre which is run by the Community Intercultural Programme and based in Northern Ireland. Oasis provide a year-round programme of activities for young people from new communities in the area. They have intercultural drop-ins, an afterschool club, one to one support and holidays/ residential trips. Their activities promote increased inclusion

Hi, my name is Clara. When I was around 14 years old, I found out that my mum had depression. It was such a mouthful to swallow for a really long time I couldn’t understand why. I thought she had a good life, I thought she was happy but later I found out that depression isn’t just being unhappy. I found this out through Oasis, especially through programmes where we talk about mental health and mental health awareness.

Being a part of Oasis and being a part of volunteering has helped me to clear my head and be able to talk about my problems. Volunteering has helped me to talk to others about my concerns. Oasis is considered by many as a refuge centre; somewhere that you are safe and at ease. Oasis can continue to support those with mental health illnesses and those who have parents or guardians with mental health illness by creating more awareness.

Being a part of Oasis has opened my eyes to not just depression but other forms of mental illnesses such as anxiety. Not only that but we have been made aware of how we can try and feel better for example in times where we are feeling anxious or stressed. With the help of Oasis, myself and many others have become aware of the dangers of mental illness and how someone like myself can help my mum with her daily struggles and how we can talk together about our problems.

I am now 18 years old! This whole summer so far, I’ve been trying to get my life in order since I’ve finished school. I’ve been looking at accommodation for uni but most of the time I’m in work.

I think it’s really scary leaving school, I always imagined it when I was younger but when you actually do it it’s crazy. For the first couple of weeks I would wake up and wonder what exams I had to study for or what homework I had to do because I was always so used to that stress. I love being out of school now, you have a lot more independence but with that comes a lot more responsibility that I’ve had some trouble coming to terms with. I feel like school will never fully prepare you for living out there in the world and not having a strict routine every day. I believe it’s something that you have to learn on your own and discipline yourself in order to succeed.

I recently was at Oasis again for another project called Youth Forum. In this new project we talk about what issues our kids are facing and we try to come up with activities, or other projects that may help and guide them on how to solve their problem. Youth Forum is a great step up from being a junior volunteer. I think being in Youth Forum shows me just how far I’ve come through Oasis and how I’ve got so much older 😂😂

I know that I’m lucky for having access to somewhere like Oasis and I know that not every kid out there does. For me to have people like my youth leaders from Oasis around me makes me feel so lucky and it is something that I appreciate every day. I couldn’t imagine not having them there and I can’t even remember not going to Oasis!! It’s been great and I’ll always stay in touch even when I go to uni! 🙂

To anyone that has so kindly donated to BBC Children in Need all I want to say is a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s hard to get people to interact and raise awareness for something that is hard to see such as mental health, but it does exist, and it is out there.

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