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A short film following the experiences of two young women’s neurodivergence (Autism and ADHD) and the difficulties they encountered in the education system as they journeyed to understand themselves. This documentary highlights the issues surrounding diagnosis for women and girls in the UK and was created in partnership with the BFI during the BFI documentary residential 2024.

Not So Typical

Ruby: As a kid, I didn't really realise that I thought differently and I felt differently. I just felt like a bit of an outsider at times, and I felt like I didn't fully have control in how I was behaving and how I was feeling as much as other people did.

Eva: I had so many friendship issues in school. Um, primary school and secondary school specifically because I wasn't diagnosed, I ended up calling myself a nomad friend. I would move from group to group. I actually struggled really badly with bullying. That period of my life of just being like, I can't change who I am and you're bullying me for it. I got really upset.

Ruby:  I remember always feeling like I couldn't settle into a group in school. I got bullied quite badly through like year 7 to year 9 and that was all surrounding, like how I was like, and I never really fully understood it. But people were just always like, you're too much like you're too loud. You're too intense. If I didn't do my homework, it was because I was lazy or my attendance was really low because I couldn't be bothered to come into school kind of thing. Whereas there was actually like an issue that was going on that was just completely undetected. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 17 years old. I think when it came to getting my diagnosis, it took quite a long time. There's always waiting lists. I started looking into getting the diagnosis at around 15, and I didn't actually get my formal diagnosis and assessment until I was 17.

Eva: I was diagnosed with autism when I was 16, a month before my 17th birthday. My brother's diagnosis was the spurring point of mine. Girls are diagnosed later than boys, especially with autism and a lot of medical conditions. When they first did the research on the topic, they only did it on white boys. They only use them as their subject, and so their symptoms, in a way, are the ones that they look for.

Ruby:  I actually don't really know how I got through school with it being undetected by teachers, because I think, to be honest, like when I look back, I was quite textbook ADHD. I am someone that can't sit still. I've always been fidgety. There's a lot of issues with concentration. I've just felt very misunderstood at school and feel like when you're not made for the society that we live in, you are isolated within such a massive group of people and it can feel like so detrimental to like your mental health. When I think about it, it makes me feel really sorry for that girl, because at the time I was only like, you know, 14, 15 and when you feel like you don't fit into like society, like society was not built for you, you like, you have no other place to go.

Eva: Primary school. I used to cry in a corner when I was overwhelmed, and it was a corner because no one could come behind me. I was safe, no one could touch me. I was there, but it was a lot of almost loneliness. At secondary school I just hated the noise. It was always really loud and so I liked to sit outside, even if it was raining, because it's not noisy outside.

Ruby: When I actually got my diagnosis. I remember speaking to my mother was being like, it's crazy that that was never suggested to us. I got tested for bipolar, I got tested for all sorts of things, but they never even thought about it.

Eva: I find with a lot of people I've spoken to, they're like, oh, they said I had borderline personality disorder. They said I had bipolar. Um, and they get all these misdiagnoses because everything had been done for men. Why aren't we talking about something that half the population of the world goes through or will go through in their life?

Ruby: I think when it comes to women, there is a lot of issues when it comes to getting diagnosed because women's ADHD can manifest in such a different way. I think because women in general kind of have to put on a facade anyway. We're used to performing. That's constantly what I've been doing my whole life. When I was a child, I was always told I was bossy. So then I think I then internalised that and I was like, I can't be that because people don't like bossy women. So yeah, I definitely tried to be something I wasn't, but then that made it so that I was just struggling inside. Whereas now, like I viewed the world just completely differently after I got my diagnosis.

Eva: My diagnosis did empower me. It kind of gave me a reason, and with a reason I could go about doing the things I wanted to do. It definitely gave me freedom, and I feel like I found empowerment in the freedom.

Ruby: I'm so much healthier with my mind. I'll take up however much space I need.

 

Not So Typical

Video length - 06.03
Published date - Apr 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

It’s party season and spiking is on the rise in the UK. In our BFI documentary residential film a student shares her alarming party experience where she was spiked herself. Also hear the positive aspects of why teenagers want to party and advice on what you can do to keep yourself safe when you go out.

If you have been affected by this film and need some more help or information please reach out to:

Stamp Out Spiking UK – stampoutspiking.org

Victim Support UK – victimsupport.org.uk

Spiked

Narrator:    Do you ever feel unsafe when you're out?

 

Actor 1:     Um, yeah I do sometimes feel unsafe when I go out quite a lot. Um, I think the main cause of it would be men, probably, um, just general people that I don't know.

 

Narrator:    Do you know anyone who's been spiked?

 

Narrator:    Yes yes yes yes yes. No.

 

Narrator:    Ah, yes. One of my best friends.

 

Isis:            I was with one of my friends. It was freshers week. Everyone was out and we were just going for a good night. I remember being in the club and I was dancing. And then I remember feeling a tingling sensation going up my legs. And then I remember collapsing on the floor. Once I was outside the club, it started to really hit me. The only thing I remember from the car journey is me. Just keep saying I'm not usually like this. I've been spiked. I need to go to hospital. The driver escorted me back to my house. I just remember passing out in the bathroom while we were waiting for the ambulance. I stopped breathing and my dad had to give me CPR. I woke up the next morning in hospital attached to an IV and wires. The hospital staff suspected I'd been injected with GHB, the date rape drug.

 

News Reporter:          She woke up the next morning unable to remember the night before.

 

News Reporter 2:       A blood test revealed someone had spiked her drink with ketamine.

 

News Reporter 3:       It can come in a drink or through a needle, as a new report on spiking says, too little is known about how widespread it is.

 

Narrator:    Does Stamp Out Spiking get contacted by many spiking victims?

Dawn:        We get contacted continually, and this is the reason why I've got so much determination to try to make spiking a separate criminal offence or so the law that needs to be updated is because of all the men and women that have broken down in my arms over the years and said, oh my God, you believe me, everyone else has accused me of having too much to drink.

 

Isis:            One of the nurses at the hospital didn't believe me, and she was questioning me about how much I've drunk and what I've taken. And the bouncers kept insisting that I didn't get spiked, and it was really frustrating and I couldn't get my point across to them.

 

Dawn:        It's like an invisible crime. That's what I call spiking. It leaves the victim with no memory whatsoever. They'll they'll become compliant. They'll leave with the assailant. They won't be able to put up a fight. That's why it's a cowardly crime. You're not even giving someone a chance. You're going in and you're poisoning them. And it's just disgusting.

 

Isis:            The main thing I was thinking about was if I got left alone, or if I didn't get home safe, or if I went to the toilet alone, or went outside, or if I wasn't with any of my friends, what would have happened to me?

 

Actor 1:     What do you think the motivation is behind spiking?

 

Dawn:        There's there's a few different ones. Some people just do it as a prank. Um, we believe some people are doing it for jealousy. There is obviously sexual assault and rape, and we're now getting reports of quite a few male victims for robbery. So there's a multitude of reasons why people do this crime. But ultimately it's got to come down to power and misuse of power.

 

Isis:            It really affected my dad. He didn't sleep for days after that, and he always came to check on me when I was sleeping.

 

Isis's Dad:  We honestly thought that she was going to die there and then on the floor. We were so worried about them to go out again. But the thing is, she hadn't done anything wrong. It obviously happened to multiple people in the club at the time because whilst we were in the hospital, there was also another girl from the same club, from the same college that she had had gone to.

 

Narrator:    73% of spiking victims are aged 18 to 21. Almost 5000 reports of needle and drink spiking are made to the UK police in a year, but it is estimated that around 97% of spiking incidents go unreported.

 

Isis:            We didn't report to the police because it would have been so hard to even detect who it could have been, because when you're in a club, you're surrounded by so many people, surrounded by so many people, surrounded by so many people.

 

Dawn:        We need people to to step up and to share their experiences so that we can help to eliminate this crime. We need to all work collaboratively to make change.

 

Isis:            My experience hasn't stopped me from going out, and I don't think it should have. Just because there are bad people out there, it doesn't mean I can't have a good time with my friends.

 

Actor 2:     I think it's important to go out with your friends just so that you, you know, have a good time with them. Make memories. And because we couldn't do that for so long. And yeah, I was just making up for it. And I guess.

 

Kodi:         It helps to build your social skills and make you a better person in a sense.

 

Actor 1:     You'll look back at things that you're absolutely mortified by, and you'll be able to laugh about them one day. Remember, like making those memories. And you want to make those memories with your close friends.

 

Isis:            You are only young once. The most important thing when you're going out is just look out for each other.

Spiked

Video length - 06.06
Published date - Dec 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

The climate crisis is having a deep impact on the world around us, how we live our lives and how we feel. With a global increase in web searches of the term ‘climate anxiety’ (up by 4,590% from 2018-2023) this film is a timely exploration of the emotional effect of climate change through one individual’s remarkable true story. 

Joycelyn Longdon (Climate in Colour) takes us on her journey across the intersection between social action and climate activism, shedding light on the urgent need for change and deepening our understanding of the intricate relationship between the environment and our well-being. She answers the question, ‘what is ‘climate anxiety?’ And can we cure it?”

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-buddhism

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-multi-faith-views

Climate Anxiety

Joycelyn: I've always been interested in nature and the environment. Like any Brit, I grew up watching nature programmes on TV. However, I lived in London where I didn't have much access to nature, but there was a local meadowland where I used to go running.

I remember going on a trip when I was younger to Northern Ireland. We visited an ancient wood and it was there that for the first time I felt a deep connection to nature, so when my friend invited me on a march for nature, it seemed like the right thing to do.

At the climate march, maybe I was a little naive, but I didn't realise the extent of climate change.

 

I felt overwhelmed by the information on the signs and banners. The people there were not like me, and it was a shaming experience where a lot was expected of me and I left it feeling isolated and I didn't belong.

I felt lost. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know how I could get involved. How do I break into the space? If this is who climate activists are, if this is what I meant to be like, then I don't fit in.

Often when we are presented with a threat, it triggers one of three responses fight, flight or freeze. Many people feel so overwhelmed by the threat of climate change, they freeze up and become apathetic or immobilised. Many want to run away from the problem. To ignore it. To dismiss it. To tell themselves it's not real or won't be that bad, or that some invention will save us, but I have always been someone who, if they see an injustice or something wrong in the world, I am motivated to fix it.

 

But what am I meant to do as an individual? How do I get involved? I felt like an outsider. Okay, so I'll change what I can. Food. Clothing. Travel. But others were not doing the same, and this felt stressful and frustrating and my climate anxiety was still there.

My thoughts were telling me I could always do more. I always do. Could always do more. I could always do more. The overwhelming feeling, the racing thoughts, the tight chest, the constant questioning and blaming myself and if I was doing enough was making me depressed.

The climate crisis is a huge topic. It is affected by and affects so many different aspects of the world, from environmental to social to economic to political. It's clear that seemingly small changes can have a huge impact on someone somewhere in the world.

For every tree felled, every half a degree of temperature rise, there will be worse hurricanes, wildfires or floods, which may devastate someone's home, because climate change is such a broad issue. I worry I'm not using my skills in the right area.

At its very worst, this causes me to feel overwhelmed and like I want to disappear. I knew from past experience that exercise is a great way to combat these feelings. Exercise releases chemicals and hormones into the brain that affect how you feel, which can help us to feel less stressed and more clear headed.

Another thing I found helpful was the switch off to stop thinking about it, to take a break and to escape either through a good book or film, or by going for a walk, especially in nature.

 

Nature has been proven to have an incredibly calming effect when I go for a walk in nature, whether that's in a park or a local word. I don't listen to music. I try to notice the world around me the birds, the sounds, the plants, the trees, and try to stay present with it and realise I am a part of nature, but my climate anxiety was still there.

Talking about concerns and worries was also very important, but it took me a while to realise the best way to do this. I would talk to my friends about the climate crisis, but we would easily fall into a spiral of oh, isn't this bad? Or did you hear about this negative climate news story? And sometimes talking about it can feel like action, but it isn't.

 

It is important to share those feelings and to get them off your chest. But now what I found is that if we talk about it in terms of ideas or solutions, by sharing groups or campaigns which are tackling these issues, then together we can turn those feelings into action, but my climate anxiety was still there.

This was because I didn't realise that climate anxiety is also a result of a failure of the systems of power, from government to big business that impact us all.

At the same time, I'd become aware of racial justice issues around the world and thought, what can I do? How can I help people of different races being treated unfairly throughout the world? I set up a group of creatives called Black and Black and I wrote articles, I designed leaflets, and I organised events. The more I learnt, the more I realised that racial justice and climate justice are linked.

 

People in other countries who had contributed the least to cause climate change, suffering the worst effects of it. I found this deeply unfair. I found a way in to the climate movement. And my voice and my identity not only belonged, but a useful. The skills I developed through racial justice campaigning are the same ones needed in the campaign for climate justice.

 

We put so much emphasis on looking to one person, one hero to save us, whether that's Greta Thunberg or whoever. But some people believe that if they're not doing as much, they have no right to be involved.

But no one action will change the world, and no one person is so important that without or with them, they would bring an end to climate change. It will take all of us. Each of us doing what we can together.

They say that action is the antidote to anxiety, and it's not just a phrase. So I set up an Instagram account called Climate and Colour. I never expected it to grow in the way it has, which made me realise I was not alone.

 

I used to worry that I didn't have a purpose or have the ability to make a difference. So I did something about it. I decided to do a PhD to become a doctor in Conservation technology, looking at how tech can monitor changes in forests and improve the variety of animals within them, with the hope that if I can work with local communities to help protect wildlife, I'll be making a difference.

I know that my climate anxiety is not cured. It will not go away permanently, but I now know that it's a perfectly normal response to climate change. Not only is it normal, but I'm proud of it because it shows I care.

 

I now use my climate anxiety as a tool. I do not let it depress me or overwhelm me, but to empower me and motivate me. It motivates me on my journey, a journey that has taken me to some amazing places and to meet some inspirational people.

I have been privileged enough to speak on panels, and to decision makers and world leaders about the climate and biodiversity crisis, but I now know that no single individual can do it all, and it's important not to think that as an individual, all of the responsibility lands on my shoulders, because no one can be a perfect activist, and it's important to be tolerant and to recognise and respect others.

Everyone is on their own journey and their own path, and what works for you might not work for others. So I try to live my life and lead by example.

 

When I started my journey on that March all those years ago, I felt like I didn't belong. I felt shamed and made to feel guilty that I wasn't doing enough. But now those marches are much more diverse, and there are so many different groups representing so many different aspects of the climate crisis. But you don't just have to attend climate protest to be actively doing something for the climate.

You can help researchers by surveying the bird or insect species in your garden. You can find out about tree planting organisations and volunteer days near you. Whatever your passions and interests, there will be a space for you in the climate movement.

So just think what you could do. But remember that you're not on your own. We won't solve the climate crisis with individual action alone. You can be part of a wider movement of people pushing for the change we need, and be proud of your climate anxiety and let it lead you to action.

 

Joycelyn: I've always been interested in nature and the environment. Like any Brit, I grew up watching nature programmes on TV. However, I lived in London where I didn't have much access to nature, but there was a local meadowland where I used to go running.

I remember going on a trip when I was younger to Northern Ireland. We visited an ancient wood and it was there that for the first time I felt a deep connection to nature, so when my friend invited me on a march for nature, it seemed like the right thing to do.

At the climate march, maybe I was a little naive, but I didn't realise the extent of climate change.

 

I felt overwhelmed by the information on the signs and banners. The people there were not like me, and it was a shaming experience where a lot was expected of me and I left it feeling isolated and I didn't belong.

I felt lost. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know how I could get involved. How do I break into the space? If this is who climate activists are, if this is what I meant to be like, then I don't fit in.

Often when we are presented with a threat, it triggers one of three responses fight, flight or freeze. Many people feel so overwhelmed by the threat of climate change, they freeze up and become apathetic or immobilised. Many want to run away from the problem. To ignore it. To dismiss it. To tell themselves it's not real or won't be that bad, or that some invention will save us, but I have always been someone who, if they see an injustice or something wrong in the world, I am motivated to fix it.

 

But what am I meant to do as an individual? How do I get involved? I felt like an outsider. Okay, so I'll change what I can. Food. Clothing. Travel. But others were not doing the same, and this felt stressful and frustrating and my climate anxiety was still there.

My thoughts were telling me I could always do more. I always do. Could always do more. I could always do more. The overwhelming feeling, the racing thoughts, the tight chest, the constant questioning and blaming myself and if I was doing enough was making me depressed.

The climate crisis is a huge topic. It is affected by and affects so many different aspects of the world, from environmental to social to economic to political. It's clear that seemingly small changes can have a huge impact on someone somewhere in the world.

For every tree felled, every half a degree of temperature rise, there will be worse hurricanes, wildfires or floods, which may devastate someone's home, because climate change is such a broad issue. I worry I'm not using my skills in the right area.

At its very worst, this causes me to feel overwhelmed and like I want to disappear. I knew from past experience that exercise is a great way to combat these feelings. Exercise releases chemicals and hormones into the brain that affect how you feel, which can help us to feel less stressed and more clear headed.

Another thing I found helpful was the switch off to stop thinking about it, to take a break and to escape either through a good book or film, or by going for a walk, especially in nature.

 

Nature has been proven to have an incredibly calming effect when I go for a walk in nature, whether that's in a park or a local word. I don't listen to music. I try to notice the world around me the birds, the sounds, the plants, the trees, and try to stay present with it and realise I am a part of nature, but my climate anxiety was still there.

Talking about concerns and worries was also very important, but it took me a while to realise the best way to do this. I would talk to my friends about the climate crisis, but we would easily fall into a spiral of oh, isn't this bad? Or did you hear about this negative climate news story? And sometimes talking about it can feel like action, but it isn't.

 

It is important to share those feelings and to get them off your chest. But now what I found is that if we talk about it in terms of ideas or solutions, by sharing groups or campaigns which are tackling these issues, then together we can turn those feelings into action, but my climate anxiety was still there.

This was because I didn't realise that climate anxiety is also a result of a failure of the systems of power, from government to big business that impact us all.

At the same time, I'd become aware of racial justice issues around the world and thought, what can I do? How can I help people of different races being treated unfairly throughout the world? I set up a group of creatives called Black and Black and I wrote articles, I designed leaflets, and I organised events. The more I learnt, the more I realised that racial justice and climate justice are linked.

 

People in other countries who had contributed the least to cause climate change, suffering the worst effects of it. I found this deeply unfair. I found a way in to the climate movement. And my voice and my identity not only belonged, but a useful. The skills I developed through racial justice campaigning are the same ones needed in the campaign for climate justice.

 

We put so much emphasis on looking to one person, one hero to save us, whether that's Greta Thunberg or whoever. But some people believe that if they're not doing as much, they have no right to be involved.

But no one action will change the world, and no one person is so important that without or with them, they would bring an end to climate change. It will take all of us. Each of us doing what we can together.

They say that action is the antidote to anxiety, and it's not just a phrase. So I set up an Instagram account called Climate and Colour. I never expected it to grow in the way it has, which made me realise I was not alone.

 

I used to worry that I didn't have a purpose or have the ability to make a difference. So I did something about it. I decided to do a PhD to become a doctor in Conservation technology, looking at how tech can monitor changes in forests and improve the variety of animals within them, with the hope that if I can work with local communities to help protect wildlife, I'll be making a difference.

I know that my climate anxiety is not cured. It will not go away permanently, but I now know that it's a perfectly normal response to climate change. Not only is it normal, but I'm proud of it because it shows I care.

 

I now use my climate anxiety as a tool. I do not let it depress me or overwhelm me, but to empower me and motivate me. It motivates me on my journey, a journey that has taken me to some amazing places and to meet some inspirational people.

I have been privileged enough to speak on panels, and to decision makers and world leaders about the climate and biodiversity crisis, but I now know that no single individual can do it all, and it's important not to think that as an individual, all of the responsibility lands on my shoulders, because no one can be a perfect activist, and it's important to be tolerant and to recognise and respect others.

Everyone is on their own journey and their own path, and what works for you might not work for others. So I try to live my life and lead by example.

 

When I started my journey on that March all those years ago, I felt like I didn't belong. I felt shamed and made to feel guilty that I wasn't doing enough. But now those marches are much more diverse, and there are so many different groups representing so many different aspects of the climate crisis. But you don't just have to attend climate protest to be actively doing something for the climate.

You can help researchers by surveying the bird or insect species in your garden. You can find out about tree planting organisations and volunteer days near you. Whatever your passions and interests, there will be a space for you in the climate movement.

So just think what you could do. But remember that you're not on your own. We won't solve the climate crisis with individual action alone. You can be part of a wider movement of people pushing for the change we need, and be proud of your climate anxiety and let it lead you to action.

 

Climate Anxiety

Video length - 09.15
Published date - Nov 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Bryony shares her heartbreaking but hopeful story about living with cerebral palsy, PTSD and anxiety – and describes how people don’t always notice or understand these ‘hidden disabilities’. Mixing animation and live action, this beautifully shot and emotional film seeks to raise awareness not just of certain medical conditions; but of the impact of bullying and how it can push a person to feeling suicidal.

https://defeatingdisability.com/

https://www.mencap.org.uk/blog/bryonys-story

https://www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/awards-2023/nominations/bryony-moss/

https://hdsunflower.com/row/insights/post/cerebral-palsy-with-Bryony-Moss

Hidden Disabilities

Hello, my name is Bryony. I'm 24. I live with my mum, dad and sister and all our animals. I am an actress, blogger and model. I'm passionate about raising awareness about disability, especially hidden disability. It came about because I was having a hard time and I needed a place to just write and vent. So I started my blog. I was in year two when my family started to take me to the doctors. This was because my teacher could see I was slightly behind my peers, so I would find balance very hard, PE, I couldn't concentrate. My walking wasn't the best. I trip a lot and she just sort of noticed I couldn't really keep up in class. So she spoke to my mum and we went to the doctor and then that's when I started having tests. When I was at school to begin with, I had quite a few friends, but then that kind of changed when people noticed that I was not coming into school as much because I was at a hospital appointment and they weren't really sure why. I think when I started telling my friends that I was disabled, they kind of saw me in a different way and didn't really know how to relate to me anymore. It was like I was a different person, but to me I was just the same. Then that's when people started picking up on things that they hadn't before. I hate to use the word normal, but I think they don't think I was normal.

 

When I found out I had cerebral palsy I didn't really understand what it was, but my mum and dad were very open about it. For me, it affects my right side of my body and it's scattered all over my brain. So I find reading and writing - I found writing very hard and doing puzzles. I had a splint which was like a leg brace that I'd wear on my right leg. I couldn't wear a skirt at school, had to wear trousers because I'd have to cover it because people would see it and make fun of me. This led to bullying from the age of year 2 to 16 years old. I got bullied verbally, physically and online. I kind of closed off to the world. I didn't feel like I belonged. My disability became more hidden, but I then had the diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety and depression. PTSD is when you've had an event happen in your life and it's affected you, and for some reason, you just can't stop thinking about it, but you're not even thinking about it. You just do it without even knowing. And it can be anything to everyone and it comes out in different ways. I covered it a lot with a smile, but like I say to people, just because you're smiling doesn't mean there's nothing wrong, like a smile can hide a lot and it kind of built up and built up and built up and people couldn't see that. I was just trying to cope with the basic stuff. Even just getting up in the morning. When I'm out and about and I'm not in my wheelchair, people walk past me and treat me completely differently. But it always makes me laugh because you could be walking past someone with a disability and you might not even know. When you see me walking, it might look simple, but inside my head everything's rushing and I get confused and tired and I just kind of learnt to just try and look as normal as I possibly can. I'd get bullied every single day and I'd come home really, really upset and crying.

 

Around the age of 14, when I was getting diagnosed with my mental health conditions, I was also diagnosed with visual and auditory hallucinations. And I couldn't... I couldn't see the world. It was like I was trapped in darkness. And I still have voices now. My voices would say nasty things that weren't very nice like they still do. But I didn't have coping strategies then. I felt very lost, very alone. I thought people would be better off if I wasn't here. I started to not be able to look at myself in mirrors. I kind of switched myself off to the world and that's when everything kind of just went a bit dark. Everything got a bit confusing in my head and I couldn't... I couldn't escape my own mind. I couldn't tell what was real, what wasn't real. Um... I felt very alone. I tried to take my own life um.... And.... That was really difficult because I was scared people would just say, 'you're doing it for attention' or things like that. But I couldn't think of... a way out. If I could talk to one of the bullies today, I'd... I'd be very anxious, but I'd probably say that even though for you, it was just like a little quick comment or just like a little bit of fun at school because nothing else to do it. It affected the way I saw myself and I didn't think I was worthy of... yeah. I thought that people would be better off without me. So it really like, it became my world rather than the real world for other people. It just became dark and I couldn't get out the darkness.

I spent a bit of time in a mental health hospital. They taught me techniques of how to cope with everyday situations if they got a bit too much. I also got help from CAMHs, which is a child's mental health service, and I'm now with adult mental health and they've been amazing and the support I received with them was brilliant. I have a support worker with me six days a week. I'm very lucky to have her. Her name is Ella. She helped me to try and be as independent as possible and to not rely on my mum all the time. When I'm out and about with Ella, she will link arms with me for when we're crossing the road because of my balance also because of my timing, I'm not really good at judging when it's safe to go. Also because I can have seizures. A seizure is when there's too much electrical energy in your brain and it goes too quickly so you can't have control of yourself. I explain this to little kids, as in you've got little jellybeans in your head, and then sometimes the jellybeans get so excited and they party in your brain and you just have a seizure and you begin to shake. My seizures can be brought on by stress, anxiety, the unknown. Maybe if I'm overthinking or even when I get really excited, they can happen for all different types of reasons.

 

I have a blue badge and this will help me with car parking so I don't have to walk as far to a shop. I also have a sunflower lanyard, which is a blue or green lanyard with sunflowers on it. This is what I wear when I'm out and about. This lanyard explains to other people that I have additional needs and I might be slower or I might need more help or just to be a bit more patient with me and things like that. Just making people aware that you might just need a little bit of extra help. Like with all my hidden disabilities, I like to find new things to do to help me express myself. And photography is one of them. I really like taking pictures of nature and wildlife and it helped me to be in the moment and just appreciate small little things in the here and now. Another one of my passions is acting. When I have an audition or a job, I will mark up my script in a particular way. This is because of my dyslexia and sometimes it feels like the words on the page can be jumbled. They can sometimes look like they're spinning or blurred, but because of the strategies I use, I always feel a sense of achievement afterwards because I always get there in the end. Despite my conditions and my disabilities, I want to try and be as positive as I can. I believe that my disability is part of me, but it doesn't define me. I made some amazing friends and it was a really nice way to connect and feel that you're not alone because you get told a lot that you're not alone and you think, 'yeah, everyone says that'. But, if you reach out, a lot of people you'll find will feel similar to you or understand what you're going through. So don't be scared to tell people because people would rather you told them and you were here than you didn't tell them and you're not here. I like to say to myself, just be you. Be true. There's no one else like you, and that is your superpower. Your story can change the world. Don't be afraid to be you and don't feel embarrassed to be you. We're all different. And that's what makes the world go round.

 

Hidden Disabilities

Video length - 10.40
Published date - Oct 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

The Humanists UK organisation helped us get access to a very special woman, Cathy, who agreed to be filmed for an interview about her life and her impending death due to a terminal illness. Cathy is a big character who had a lot to say, as she planned for her own funeral and discussed why she identified with Humanism. After she passed away, we edited together her interview and funeral to make what is a rare and very touching film that goes beyond teaching non-religious world views: it’s about grief, love and helping others.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

Humanists UK

Component 2: Thematic studies - Religious, philosophical and ethical studies - Students should be aware of different religious perspectives on the issues studied within and / or between religious and non-religious beliefs such as atheism and humanism.

Area of Study 1 - The aims and objectives of this qualification are to enable students to: ● develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and non-religious beliefs, such as atheism and humanism

Component Group 2–Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a religious perspective - dialogue within and between religions and non-religious beliefs; how those with religious and non-religious beliefs respond to critiques of their beliefs including the study of a range of attitudes towards those with different religious views – inclusivist, exclusivist and pluralist approaches.

PART B - Theme 1: Issues of Life and Death - Learners are expected to make relevant references to scripture and other sources of authority as well as the beliefs of Humanists and Atheists.

2.3 Component 3 (Route A) - The compulsory nature of this component ensures that learners know and understand the fact that the religious traditions of Great Britain whilst being, in the main, Christian are also diverse and include the following religious traditions as well as other religious and non-religious beliefs such as humanism and atheism. This knowledge may be applied throughout the assessment of the specified content.

 

A Humanist Funeral Transcript

Narrator:  Humanists are people who don't believe that there is a God or life after death, but they do believe that it is possible to live good lives without a religion, telling them how to do it. Cathy was a humanist. Humanists make their decisions based on science, kindness, a concern for all human beings and the belief we only get one life. This combination of attitudes is called humanism. Knowing her life would soon end. Cathy began planning her humanist funeral and agreed to discuss it on camera at her home in Wales.

 

Catherine:       I'm Catherine Ellen Hawkesbury Weston, now Catherine Simons. I love the name, although I didn't like being a Welsh girl because I couldn't say anything in Welsh and I like to talk. I've been living here now, I would say 61 years. Um. And I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. My mother reckoned she was a good Christian. Um, Methodist. I had to go to Sunday school every week, whether I wanted to or not. And I couldn't have cared less. I really didn't want to be there. I'd like to believe there was something. But I don't think we ever come back. And I don't think I would like to come back, actually. And as long as I'm buried in the garden, I don't care.

 

Narrator:   Cathy died on May 24th, 2022. Her funeral took place at a chapel a month later. Kathy wanted a humanist funeral, which can look very much like a religious funeral, but there are no prayers and no mention of God or a life after death. It's a celebration of someone's life and the contribution they've made to the world. It's a way for friends and family to say goodbye, and the ceremony can take many forms.

 

Simon:     Welcome, everybody. We gathered here today to pay tribute to the life of Kathy Ellen Simmons. Along the way with every experience and every action, every reaction. With every single thought and emotion, we develop qualities that make us both memorable and unique. And it is that uniqueness, that separateness from others, which is the source of sorrow in bereavement. So if we searched the whole world over, we won't find another quite like Kathy. Her actions and her beliefs reflected the very best of being human. And from our conversations, I've distilled just a few of her thoughts, and it's in keeping with Kathy's very clearly expressed wishes. Her funeral will not be religious for those I have not met. My name is Simon Dinwiddie. I'm a celebrant with humanists UK, and I had the privilege of meeting Kathy for the first time in 2020. Now, being a very pragmatic woman, she wanted to discuss a plan for her own funeral ceremony. That was the first of several meetings, both in person and by telephone, for I'm sure you can all appreciate. Cathy had quite a tale to share.

 

Catherine:       I realized that religion wasn't really my thing, I wasn't interested in it, and I thought it was more important to be kind to people and just help them if I could. I wanted to be a nurse or was wanted. I never had a doll that was healthy. It would always say, I went for an interview there. You already said you've passed what you want to go in Army, Navy or Air Force? I didn't know they had them in the Army, in the Navy and the Air Force. So I said, I want to be an Army nurse. I could see the uniform, you know. So he said, well, you're in. You're going in a fortnight. Oh my God, what am I going to do? Um, and the very first day I was wearing my uniform and I thought I was chocolate. Oh, I got a hat on. Right. Um, I went down to Cambridge Military Hospital, and there was a brick parade square in front of us and the cookhouse down there. And here's this six foot three, uh, boy with red hair in uniform, marching up and down. And I said, hey, look at that to my mate. He's nice and nice, and he's got red hair. I'm going to marry him one day. She said, you are off your head. I said, we'll see. We'll see. And three years later I did. I think he was more of a believer than me, but it didn't matter that much. You know, it wasn't his life. He passed away and I can feel his goodness. And I want to. I want to capture that.

 

Simon:     Cathy loves to sing. His wonderful voice serenaded her with renditions from Mario Lanza. So let us take a few seconds or a few moments while we listen to our Maria.

 

Catherine:       Listen to him sing. Oh God, it made the world go round, you know it's. It was something special. It was just him and I, and it was just wonderful. I've never felt like that with anybody else. I would love people to play this music at my funeral. It meant so much for me. Um, I was jealous because I couldn't sing, but oh, boy, did I enjoy listening to him singing.

 

Simon:     So the opportunity to introduce her to two film makers. They've been making various films about various belief systems. And back in October 21st, Cathy very kindly agreed to talk to them on camera about her life and humanism. She was sharing memories from her long and adventurous life, including a career and that amazing bucket list of Spitfires, snakes and driving a blood red Ferrari. Now. Cathy loved the idea of sharing a few select clips from her interview with you today. So we should listen to a little bit more of her story.

 

Catherine: I think the first time I heard about humanism, I met this lady through another friend and I went to see her, and I think I can't be accurate about this. She was a humanist, but she looked in my eyes and I felt. Hang on. That's a little bit the way I feel. Being a humanist makes me feel good. Worthwhile, useful and kind. I think it made me feel. More sensitive to other people's needs. Not just mine. But other people have feelings. And perhaps you can help them in one way or another. I only wanted boys and I only wanted ginger haired boys for us. And it was really funny, actually, because I started having treatment in London and they were determined to get me pregnant and he failed. Um, and that, I suppose, was one of the biggest disappointments in our lives. But we decided the guide dogs would help a lot of people and the forces, because we've been so happy in the forces. And I'm not kidding you. The fun and games I've had with help for heroes, the guide dog puppies, the children with cancer. I love it, absolutely love it. I got an answer only about six months a year ago. Um, the guy that I used to go to in London said to me, Cath, do you know we know why you couldn't have babies? So I said, go on, tell me then. So he said, it's the pancreas. I take over 100 tablets every day to keep me going. I don't want a load of flowers bought for me. I don't want to a fancy this, that and the other. I don't want a meal afterwards. Good God didn't go and get chips down the road. And I just want my ashes to go where I've spent a lot of hours where I used to love being with Terry. He had a beautiful garden. Honestly, um. And where I had a lot of happy times. And it's just nice to know that we'll be together again. You know, if tomorrow's the day. Tomorrow's the day. Um. I've had a good life. I've done a lot of wonderful things. I've met some amazing people. When you think of the beautiful things, we've got to see the places we can go, the people we can meet. Aren't we lucky? We really are lucky. And I love people and I love being with animals. And it's just. Aren't I the luckiest girl in the world? I think so.

 

Simon:     I think Kathy's message could be summed up in one sentence. Now we've got one life living to the full and seek joy in every day. Ladies, gentlemen, if you're able. Would you please stand for the last post.

 

Narrator:  The last post is a bugle or trumpet call that is played at funerals for people with a connection to the military. Ah. After the funeral, Cathy was cremated at the chapel. Her ashes were scattered in her garden beside the ashes of her husband, Terry.

 

Simon:     Yeah, well, that absolutely was perfect for her. So the main thing about a humanist funeral is that they are as unique as the individual who chooses. They're a unique estate, a family that wants to respect the life and reflect upon the life of the person they've lost. And so there is no formula for a humanist ceremony other than we celebrate the life we recognize. It's a good life.

 

Catherine:       I really would like to be remembered as somebody sensitive, caring and loving. That's all.

 

A Humanist Funeral

Video length - 11.02
Published date - Nov 2022
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Made by students on the BFI Film Academy, this documentary covers the perspectives of several young people whose parents have suffered from mental illness. It explores the impact on them in a tender way that helps with understanding mental health conditions and their effect.

Limbo

Henry 00:00:47:19

Okay. I'm Henry.

Paige 00:00:49:20

Hi, my name is Paige. I'm 16,

Henry 00:00:51:20

I'm 16.

Paige 00:00:53:01

My childhood was good. I had lots of fun, but it was quite rocky

at times, building up to when my mom was hospitalised. Her, she

became very erratic. We didn't really know what was going on,

she wasn't herself.

Henry 00:01:05:10

It was more like a gradual shift in time, but probably when she

first checked into the mental ward, it really clicked you know.

Paige 00:01:13:22

My great grand had just died. It was just very sudden. We didn't

know what was going on.

Henry 00:01:19:06

She was dealing with alcoholism at the time, too, and just

everything just went downhill from there, and she got into the

mental ward and that's all I knew. It was like a blur to me. My

impression of her was really wilted by this experience.

Nadia 00:01:29:15

I was inspired to start the Self Esteem team, having experienced

my own troubles growing up and not having the right information

that I could relate to.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

2 / 5

Henry 00:01:41:09

I don't think I could have done anything. I was pretty powerless

and I wanted to be numb to everything, basically. It was like a

very Kafkaesque situation. I just wanted to avoid it.

Nadia 00:01:51:08

We don't just work with students, we work with parents and

teachers as well for what we call a whole school approach.

Paige 00:02:00:06

I spoke to my pastoral manager about it. I said, I said that my

mum's in hospital and she said okay, and it was never spoken

about again. We felt quite alone.

Henry 00:02:12:00

I guess I didn't really see her as like a really strong person, like

she was more human, more flawed to me. My dad, he was always

quite, uh, frantic and, uh, he didn't really treat the situation well,

I don't think.

Nadia 00:02:25:06

There can often be, uh, what's called role reversal. So the child

becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child, and this

gives huge responsibility to the young person, so they essentially

cut themselves off from friendship circles.

Henry 00:02:40:11

Music helped me through it quite a lot, to be honest. I would just

hide in my bedroom and stuff and like, you know, my parents

were constantly arguing so I'd hear sounds of them arguing

outside.

Paige 00:02:50:18

I didn't enjoy being at school. I was constantly worrying and I

started to have lots of days off.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

3 / 5

Henry 00:02:57:06

I, I'd say I wanted to be in school more because, like, I kind of

wanted to run away from my home life and like, I wanted to be

involved in school affairs more, like I just wanted life to go on as

normal, but of course, it didn't just went like topsy turvy really

quickly.

Paige 00:03:13:15

I think it would have been helpful for me to speak to somebody at

school, because it would have made me want to go into school

more. They just need to pay a bit more attention to the students,

because it's not always the students that are making a ruckus or

being loud. It's sometimes the students who don't say anything at

all.

Nadia 00:03:28:16

So many people suffer in silence or slip under the radar and

aren't recorded.

Henry 00:03:33:14

I just wanted people to think that I was having a normal life, so I

just kept all these feelings bottled inside of me and just

suppressed them. My mom has been home for like two years now,

and she has been dealing with pretty well, and she hasn't had

any significant relapses or anything, so it's good. I don't think I'll

ever fully comprehend what happened, but I think, uh, I think I'm

more aware of, you know, her situation and like the full scope of

it.

Paige 00:04:04:05

I was really relieved when I got the call saying that my mom was

home. She contacted her doctors and said, would they be able to

speak to us? For me, it helped to speak to somebody because I

was able to say things that I didn't realise I was thinking.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

4 / 5

Nadia 00:04:19:17

Mental health conditions are a lot more universal, and there will

be someone out there who can understand, or someone out there

who is going through a similar thing and has perhaps come out

the other side, or has good advice that might be able to help you.

Henry 00:04:34:20

I think it's a good thing I see my mom as more human, although,

you know, the crisis wouldn't be the best way of teaching that to

me, you know.

Paige 00:04:43:23

I think my mom's experience has taught me to take a step back

and think about myself more, not to be so selfless.

Henry 00:04:52:01

If I was giving someone advice who was going through this, I

would say, find someone you can really open up to because I

didn't at the time.

Paige 00:04:59:12

Be patient and realise it's not your fault. It can't be helped.

Nadia 00:05:04:03

It's not always the first person that you reach out to, that's

necessarily the one you're going to connect to or knows how to

help.

Henry 00:05:11:04

I only really found out I needed to open up to someone like years

later, because I have a friend like that now, and like, it's been like

a really good thing in my life.

Nadia 00:05:21:09

So keep going, keep trying. There's no one size that fits all.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

5 / 5

Paige 00:05:27:17

It will take time for things to get better.

Henry 00:05:30:14

Even like the strongest people can like break down sometimes.

Nadia 00:05:33:14

And if it takes a few people, that's fine. That's normal. You're

doing better than you think.

Limbo

Video length - 6.38
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Meet Abi – they’re a bit different, in many amazing ways! Abi’s autism can make life challenging sometimes, but it’s also given them some gifts. Smart, curious and open to other cultures, Abi has been on a mission to find the right faith for them and Hinduism speaks to their soul. In the film Abi describes their day to day life, their autism, their love of languages, identifying as non-binary and why Hinduism works for them – excitingly, Abi gets to experience their first public Diwali.

Produced by Morgan Tipping.

Directed, edited and animated by Tommy Chavannes – https://tommychavannes.com/

Autism, Hinduism & Me

Video length - 05.59
Published date - Sep 2022
Keystage(s) - 2, 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Made by filmmakers in training as part of the BFI Film Academy, this sensory and sensitive documentary is about a group of people who are hard of hearing. They share the difficulties they’ve faced but also the positive steps that have been made to make them feel more included in modern society.

Hearing Hope

Video length - 06.27
Published date - Jun 2022
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Made by filmmakers in training as part of the BFI Film Academy, this powerful piece explores the lives of two people who experience the audio aspects of our world in different, almost opposite ways. One can’t hear at all; the other lives with a condition called misophonia, where everyday sounds become overwhelming.

Quiet in a Loud World

Video length - 05.27
Published date - Jun 2022
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Living Your Best Life (Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy) – The story of ‘Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy’ is retold – with a twist.

Benjamin lives in the Galilean village of Capernaum and has leprosy. He is also appearing on the reality TV make-over show called ‘Living Your Best Life’. Benjamin learns from the presenter – Joanna, the Make-Over Queen – that Jesus is due to visit Capernaum the following day. Benjamin duly kneels before Jesus asking to be cured. Later, joined by Joanna once more, Benjamin describes how his life has changed. But what has made the greatest impression on him is the compassion and acceptance of Jesus.

Suitable for teaching KS1 / KS2.

For teachers’ notes, assembly framework and more:https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/school-radio/assemblies-ks1-ks2-jesus-heals-a-man-with-leprosy-living-your-best-life/zgh9g7h

This film is from the the assemblies collection on BBC Teach: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/school-radio/primary-school-assemblies-collective-worship-ks1-ks2/zmsnm39

As this film is embedded you will not be able to download it.

The TrueTube and CTVC team made this film for BBC Teach, so for more resources go to BBC Teach: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach

The Bible Stories series was commissioned by BBC Teach and produced by CTVC/TrueTube.

Living Your Best Life (Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy)

Video length - 5.04
Published date - Oct 2021
Keystage(s) - 1 and 2
Downloadable resources