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One Life, Live it Well, featuring Alice Roberts, explores the concept of living a fulfilling life through the lens of science, philosophy, and personal experiences. It explores the importance of health, happiness, and purpose, interviewing various experts and individuals to uncover practical ways to enhance well-being and live life to the fullest. This short animation emphasises mindfulness, physical activity, and meaningful connections as key components to achieving a well-lived life.

One Life, Live it Well

Video length - 02.36
Published date - Jul 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Grmalem, a 25-year-old from Eritrea, recounts his harrowing journey of escape from compulsory military service and economic hardship. Leaving his homeland at 14, he embarked on a perilous five-month odyssey through Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya, Italy, France, and finally to the UK. Facing inhumane conditions from smugglers in the Sahara to a treacherous sea voyage, Grmalem eventually found refuge in the UK, where he lived in foster care, discovering his passion for art and education. Despite ongoing challenges and discrimination, Grmalem dedicates himself to supporting others and raising awareness about the refugee experience, hoping for a future where empathy and humanity prevail.

Refugee Stories: Grmalem

Grmalem: My name is Grmalem. I'm 25. I'm from Eritrea. The reason I had to leave Eritrea is mainly politically economic and education. I was turning about 14, and I knew I'm gonna have to face this same story as my uncles, my dad and my sisters and all the village who has to join the military army. My dad did not have any income or salary from the government, and his whole life was serving the government. And that was not something I was planning to do for my future. And the only thing was like to run and escape the country. So this many reasons is that I have to live and change my family's future and change my future. One day I just said I'm leaving. I don't told anybody I can't because it's risky. I had to leave at night with one friend and we don't even know where we go. We don't have any torch. We don't have any lights, you know. I wasn't scared, I wasn't I wasn't scared. I was like, no, let's do it, let's, let's. It's because it's more scared. What I left is, uh. I prefer to die. My story. My journey takes five months. Stepping in my journey from Eritrea to Ethiopia, from Ethiopia to Sudan, from Sudan to Libya, from Libya to Italy, from Italy to France, from France to here. Every step I take was really, really hard and difficult. In the Sahara Desert, there were smugglers. They were kept us like really unhuman, holding guns like they ready for a war, feeding us as an animal as well. So all our life was theirs. We only give them the breath and they, they, they control the body.

 

I don't know how many days and nights were spent on the sea, but we spent more than a week. And the sea doesn't motivate you to survive. The sea never ever motivated. Really hard memories I have is people shouting from underground of the boat, vomiting as well, like people. So much vomiting. And just because so many, all the dead seaweed and fish and everything is so disgusting. I saw people come in to us in very small boat. They moved us to a bigger ship. Very, very, very, very, very big. It's like towns. It's bigger than any town I ever seen. Now. In Calais. There was a camp and people were there like for two and a half years and three years trying to go to England. We tried days and nights. I tried in every way of the lorry. I tried in everywhere of the car and we get fined every time we get tried everywhere. We fined by police. Police dog, uh, by scanned and oh, in Calais, the worst thing was the spray they spray in your eyes. And it was more than a gun surely. It was really hurt. This is where the point, I said. You call me illegal? I am legal because there is no legal rights. So I have to figure out my own legal because there were no other options, that is. But a day came. The minute came. The hours came. My I was scared. A lorry was stopped next to where I was lying in the grass. I was like, okay, let's try in this place again.

 

So I have to climb to the top of the lorry. I climbed there and tied myself really tiny and get to the UK. Junction 11, Folkestone to Ashford. He parked there. That 14 years I've been living not existed. Sorry. My best days start counting from the day of landing in the UK. I feel safe. I said. This is it. And later on. The police find me. I don't know where. And they took me to the police station and they took me to there. I think now it's called a transfer scheme. They took me to put me in the system like a refugee system. I lived in foster care for seven years with my foster carer. My super, super, super hero. And they foster in me how to be human. And they taught me that everything. What is I have now and who I am going to be. My foster carer, we couldn't communicate it. She came really wisely, said, can you please start telling me story how you came. And she gave me a pencil and a paper. And then I start drawing. Instead of writing. My first drawing was the boat, our boat and the small boat. They came in to risk us. It was that and she was like, wow, I saw that in the TV. She was saying, he came this way. And that's our first conversation with my foster mum. And since then she started buying me a canvas. Precious. All these stores, all the stores fill up. And I say to myself, I'm. I'm gonna be sure I make her proud to finish university and get graduated in art. And which is, I'm in my third year to graduate this year. So I love them and I see the love they gave me. And they are my parents and I call them mum and dad. The word refugee mean to me. It feels like illegal. It feels like. Not human.

 

It feels like separation. I do feel discrimination when people call me illegal refugee, come illegal asylum. I mean, when people called. You here and we can't find council house and they thinking we are taking their houses. That is when I feel really discrimination and it just doesn't make sense. It doesn't make me anything but me. Trying to help, trying to work, trying to do my best I can with supporting my family, with supporting others next to me. I wish and hope I can help people. I've been doing two years supplying teacher, helping the next generations to support in school, and I'm also working as a youth ambassador at KRAN. I joined KRAN to help young people, which I love to help people. When I am around people and we raise awareness of the young people, we go to school, talk about us, our journey, talk about our experience and expectation. I'm not leaving people who stop leaving their countries. Or maybe a war is going to stop forever, so people will live and I will support. And that is my hope. That's my wish to support, to be a human, to have empathy, to work hard until the day I die.

 

Refugee Stories: Grmalem

Video length - 09.52
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Sixteen-year-old Olha’s life in Ukraine is shattered by war, forcing her to flee to Poland with her younger brother. As she navigates the fear and uncertainty of being a refugee, she is touched by the kindness of strangers. Despite the chaos, Olha clings to her dreams of returning home and helping to rebuild her country, finding solace in her favorite book and music.

Refugee Stories: Olha

Olha: My name is Olha and I'm 16 years old, I'm from Ukraine. Now I'm living in Ivano Frankvisk City with my mum, dad and younger brother and my dog. I started learning taekwondo at first class of the school. Um, because I think it's it's great to to do sports and you can improve yourself. It gives me positive, only positive emotions. I can go to the competition and win some rewards. And it's it's great feeling. Before the war, I want to compete and get a black belt. But now I can't do this and I'm just staying at at one level. After the beginning of the war. I hear very loud noises and I. I realised that my parents are not at home. Uh, only me and my younger brother and my dog. Uh, my mum calls me and tell you should take your, uh, warm things and your, uh, items of clothes and your brother and you and documents. And you should go to the basement. And then they said to me that I should went to the Poland with my brother, with my grandparents. When I come to Poland, I met, uh, a lot of refugee who was living just at the bus station or train station. And when I understand that, I'm a refugee, too. I was so scared. It means just, um, other people in other countries. This word is so symbolic to me. When you are a refugee, you move to another country. And you don't know anything about that, about, uh, people, about nature or culture and etc and you don't know where you should go, where you should leave, what you should to eat. But, um, when I moved to Poland, there are a lot of people, very kind people who just help us. When it starts, everybody thinks that not long it will be maybe two weeks, maybe one month. I hope that it would stop so, so quickly, but I know it. It wouldn't. The main reason why they start war. They want to take our part of Ukraine just to expand their territory. When the war starts, leave Ukraine and went to Poland. But now I'm here in Ukraine and I don't want to leave it anymore. So I hope I would live here.

 

I would work here and build my future here in Ukraine. I have words to describe this feeling. When you can't do your normal routine, your normal things that you do before. Now me and my friends and my parents and my younger brother. We can't just, just walk. Just be happy like it was before the war. Because we can we can sit at the restaurant and we can hear that alert. Before War we was so cheerful, but now I can't. I can see people happy. I can see people love laughing. And I think it's just war because our people, they think only about war. How to stop it? I feel so scary. Especially when it's at night when you're sleeping and you just sleep normally and you, you hear this alert, this loud noises, and you can't continue your sleep, your dream, but you just should to go to the basement and sleep there. It feels so, so scary when I hear the alerts I take also my book, my favorite book. And also I take my headphones, headphones, music and books helps me to reduce my stress level. My school is located at city center and that too many schools opposite next to my school. And it's terrifying to study at city center because attacks can be also at our city. We just go to the basement and that's all our backpacks, our jackets, our all our things. We are leaving them at our classes. Of course, I see my future in the Ukraine because I want to rebuild our country and I hope that, um, the future of Ukraine will be so good and fantastic and we will be the most kind country. And I hope that Ukraine will stop the war and we get back our territory. And all of it, uh, would stop. Of course, I love to cry. It's my country, my loved country. I don't want to leave my my Ukraine.

Refugee Stories: Olha

Video length - 06.53
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
21-year old Obaida recounts his journey from war-torn Syria to finding safety and a new life in the UK. Forced to flee at a young age, he navigates the challenges of being a refugee in Jordan before finally resettling in the UK.There, he discovers a peaceful and welcoming society. Now a youth ambassador, Obaida advocates for fellow refugees, challenging stereotypes. and fostering hope.This film captures the resilience of the human spirit and the power of compassion.
This film was produced with the help of Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).

Refugee Stories: Obaida

Obaida    Hi.

Shazia     Hi. Are you okay?

Obaida    Yeah.

Shazia     How are you feeling about this interview?

Obaida    Um. Confident.

Obaida    My name is Obaida. I'm 21 years old. I'm originally from Syria.

KRAN    And we ask questions. Have you. Do you know a friend as a refugee? Have you met a refugee? Most of them. They haven't. No.

Obaida    I think the media has a huge impact on the people here in the UK. It doesn't actually show. Like, why are these people leaving their country in the first place? Why they are risking their life, like on the boat and like crossing the Sahara desert, like, you know, the Mediterranean Sea. Why? Like they're doing this at the first place. All they show like this many of refugees have arrived. I now work with KRAM as a youth ambassador to raise young people's voice, especially young refugees and asylum seekers. When I arrived in the UK, I was 15 years old. I had like two different childhoods, one in Syria and one in the country I fled to, which is Jordan. I was six and a half, seven years old when the war started in Syria. I saw, like, you know, my neighbor holding a gun and start shooting, and people. First I thought like, that was just like a joke because I had a gun before, but it was like a plastic toy. So I thought that was like a similar thing. I remember like, I was upstairs with my brother and my brother is quite tall, so he was standing in front of the wall looking outside and like, no, there was a bullet. Like it was that that near piercing his head. It was just above his head. And I was like really shocked. And he was really shocked, but he didn't want to show it to me. And after that, and we never went off like on the roof again. My parents didn't allow us to go near the windows as well. Just like to stay safe. And yeah, that that's the most horrific thing I would say happened. My family is Muslim and we lived in a neighborhood where most of them are atheist. They were against us. My dad, he lived in the neighborhood for 20 years.

 

He knew everyone of them like they were friends. But once the war started, they just, like now changed completely. And they said like, no, because we know you for like 20 years. We give you a chance to leave first thing in the morning. My dad said we need to leave. So we called the bus. A small van. Yeah, we just left everything behind and moved on. And we went straight to Jordan. And we started our life from zero again. In many countries, Syrians boys like no one girls do work. And at early ages, when I was in Jordan, I used to work when I was 12, 13 years old to support my family. Studying it was pointless for me because I knew there was no future for me. And in Jordan, I used to work in a supermarket where I just tidied up things and like, you know, sell goods and things. And the funny part was, whenever someone like police comes looking for Syrians, I'll just like, pretend I'm a customer or take something and buy it and go out. It was fun lifestyle, but dangerous because anytime I was age of getting arrested and like, you know, I have to pay a bill, I'm pretty sure my family couldn't have afford that. I stayed in Jordan for seven years. My family were registered in the UNHCR. They called us, said like your family name is on the settlement scheme. Would you like to go to America? And we were thinking, yes, of course, like any place where we have a future at least. After one year, Donald Trump happened, he said like, no, no more refugees anymore in America. So we had to cancel that, not us. Like the UNHCR. We didn't have emails, nor letters and letters would take lots of time. So we were just always looking at our one phone. Probably seven months. They called us again and they said, there's a resettlement scheme happening right now. We put your family name on it. So we chose the UK. My parents weren't happy because of the culture difference. They were thinking about UK is like, you know, it's completely different to Jordan and Syria. Even though like, you know that life is expensive and difficult here, but they still have the culture, the like, you know, the religion. But they understood for us, the children like this is our future. When I was in Jordan, I used to watch hours of movies and especially Harry Potter. And so when I, when I heard the UK and England, I was like thinking, oh like, you know, flying brooms and like, you know, magic wands and that's, that's different life like, you know, there and I'll be a part of it. Uh, but unfortunately, when I arrived to the UK, um, none of that was true.

 

My first impression is like how peaceful the country is. And everyone here is equal. How everyone has here, here has an opportunity to continue the future, to have a better life, a decent life, I would say. That's what every refugee dream of. When. When I arrived, I was thinking probably because my race, my color, which is like completely different to white people, I would find it difficult. If I remember correctly, my first day was going to KRAN, where I studied some English there and elderly man stopped us and said like, where are you from? We were like, we are from Syria. I was really thinking like, you know, something bad will happen. But he said, oh, welcome, and you are here now. You are safe. And I really felt welcomed that day. How can I support this country? Support. Like, you know, the people living in this country. When I was in Jordan, all I thought about is like, you know, having a decent life and never thought of having a luxurious life, having, like, you know, a phone all I wanted, just like, you know, wake up in the morning, have a normal, like, breakfast, go to school, study something I like. When I arrived in the UK, I found all of that when I was in Jordan, I didn't plan anything for my future. But until I arrived to the UK, where I was secured and safe, I start thinking about my future, which is it took me a while to understand how important it is and carrying on with my life. For me, the word refugee means a lot. When I was in Jordan, I was called a refugee. It really annoys me. It's the conception of people have made about refugees. Like refugees are bad. Refugees are like, no, they are taking your job. You know you're the country. But Refugees are just like normal people are looking for shelter for like decent life who couldn't live in their country and they just moved away. And I think this has been in all human nature, like people are just moving around like, you know, for better, better life. If you see someone from a refugee background or if you notice he's he's struggling or she is struggling, just go give him this small motivation like, you know, this small push from you because you don't know what they've been through. But that small smile from your mind, like know, made their day. Who knows? Probably you are the reason. Like they achieve their full potential. So yeah, it's been it's been like in, in the past for me. The UK is my home country now. And to be honest, the home for me is like family and people around me. I would hope when they see things are better in Syria. But now, yeah, I would never go back because I know it will never be the same as before. And here I have found my life and have found my future.

 

Refugee Stories: Obaida

Video length - 08.50
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Randy, a 19-year-old from Managua, Nicaragua, escapes political unrest and finds himself alone and uncertain in the UK. Forced to leave his family, he navigates the complexities of seeking asylum, experiencing fear and hope along the way. Amidst the challenges, Randy discovers a supportive community and a newfound sense of safety. As he adapts to life in Guildford, his dreams of studying physiotherapy in Liverpool take shape, symbolizing his resilience and determination to build a new life far from home.

This film was produced with the help of Big Leaf Foundation.

Refugee Stories: Randy

Randy:    My name is Randy I'm 19 years old and I'm from Nicaragua. I'm from Managua which is the capital of Nicaragua. I lived in a neighborhood with my family, which are my parents and my sister. One of my favorite memories is playing in my hometown with my friends, playing football in the streets, playing hide and seek. Yeah. My childhood was really nice. So when I was 13, I realized that there was a bigger issue in the political side of my country. Basically, I didn't realize that we had a dictatorship in 2006 and I was just living a normal life. But from 2018 and onwards, I just knew how bad the country situation was in terms of political government. It all started with the pension scheme change for the elderly, and then it started with the way that the government was managing the situation with the people protesting. These protests started being done by the university students and they were amazing. I attended many of them. Everything started to change when we realized that the government was putting people in jail, or even murdering people just because of the political situation. Unluckily, me and my family were living in a neighborhood which is mostly associated with this party. There are many people that work in the government and for the government, and that makes us in danger most of the time. I was 17 years old when I left Nicaragua.

 

This decision was made mainly by my parents, and I wasn't happy with the decision, but I knew that it was a thing that I had to do to be safe. I traveled by plane alone from Nicaragua to my next destination. I felt really scared and sad when I left by my own, because I didn't know what to expect of the new place that I was going to live in without my family. I lived in America for around two months with my cousins. We were undocumented. And at that moment my parents were going through a difficult economical situation, so they couldn't afford supporting me in the country. That was the reason why my cousins wanted me to work illegally. Which makes me feel less safe and made my parents should take the decision to send me to the UK. I took a plane from Miami to London, and throughout the journey I felt scared because I was going to claim asylum at the airport, and that made me feel frightened of what was going to happen. I was thinking that I could get rejected, that I could get deported back to Nicaragua or something like that. At the airport. The first thing I said to the officer was that I wanted to claim asylum in the UK. They put me into a room with more people trying to claim asylum. When I was in the room, I was looking at the window and I saw these people just coming into the UK or returning to the UK, feeling happy about it.

 

When I was feeling so scared of what was going to happen to me, and I had the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen. So it was a mix of emotions at that moment. When I arrived to the UK, I was 17 so I was still a child and child services had to take care of me. When a child service officer was driving me to my new location, I felt really relieved because I was more focused on getting to know the place, emersing in a new culture, and realizing the fact that I was in a completely different continent. I was just surprised about the fact that the UK drives in the other side of the road. Also the way that the houses are built with these orange walls and everything. So I really like that. When I was told that I was going to move to Guildford, I didn't know that it was a place. But then when I got there, I like the place because it was a small town, which meant I could walk anywhere. In Guildford I live in a supported accommodation with other young people. I felt comfortable because most of the people were asylum seekers as well, so we were in the same situation and these people were my age or younger or a little older than me, so I was comfortable with them. So after claiming asylum, I had to wait for around nine months and throughout these nine months I only was allowed to study, not to work. Then after nine months, I have my first substantive interview, which is the main interview. When they decide if you reject it or you're accepted in your asylum application. Unfortunately, I was rejected. And that made me feel that everything ended. Fortunately, with the support of a lot of people, I was able to go through the appeal phase, which took around 6 to 7 months for the hearing.

 

In November of 2023, I was granted refugee status by the Home Office, and that made me feel so happy and so relieved about my future. I was lucky because I had access to everything now. I could live like a normal UK resident, I could work, I could have access to student finance because my dream is to go to university here. So I could do that now. Hopefully in September 2024 I will be starting the physiotherapy course at University of Liverpool. I've always wanted to become a physiotherapist, but in Nicaragua I don't think that I would have done it. I don't think that it was going to be the pathway that I was going to choose, mainly because of the lack of opportunities to be a physio in Nicaragua. So if I would have stayed in Nicaragua, it was going to be the dream that I wasn't going to achieve. I miss my country, I miss Nicaragua, I miss my culture, my food, my family, my friends is just what you grew up with. And it's something that stays with you your whole life. My relationship with Big Leaf started one day after I moved to Guilford. I was just walking around Guilford, and then I received a text message from a number. Basically was just saying if I wanted to go to some music lessons and I didn't know how they got my number. But then I realised that my social worker gave them my number. I decided to go to the lessons, and I really liked the lessons, and I really like the way that they were treating me. I volunteer with Big Leaf in the Big Leaf Refugee Week, mainly in the organization of the event. After that, I've been doing some volunteering with them sometimes and some paid work sometimes. All of these experiences that I have with Big Leaf made me feel very proud of myself.

 

All of the achievement that I've done, being a young leader, being a volunteer now, being paid for my work and my contribution to the community, something that makes me feel very proud. I realized that I've been able to achieve things that I didn't know that I was able to. And yet, that just makes me feel happy. Being a refuge to me means being different, having to work hard every day. Giving yourself the permission to feel and knowing that you have the same opportunities as everyone. And you're equal to everyone, regardless of the ethnicity or your nationality. Now I have less worries compared to when I was living in Nicaragua or when I was living in America, because I feel more safe. I feel that my future is going how I want it to be, that I'm in the correct pathway to achieve my dreams. And I feel happy now.

Refugee Stories: Randy

Video length - 09.04
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Rishan, a 26-year-old from Eritrea, fled her homeland to Sudan at the tender age of three with her family to escape the oppressive regime that denied them basic human rights and forced young people into the military. Life in Sudan was tough, Rishan and her family lived under the shadow of fear due to the lack of official documents and she had no access to education. At 16, driven by the need for a better future, she embarked on a perilous journey across the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea, leaving behind everything familiar without even a goodbye to her mother. This courageous leap into the unknown was fuelled by sheer determination and the hope for a life of freedom and opportunities.
This film was produced with the help of Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).

 

Refugee Stories: Rishan

Rishan: Hi, my name is Rishan. I'm 26 years old and I'm from Eritrea. My family fled Eritrea when I was three years old because it's owned by dictatorship president. You don't get the chance to your human basic rights. Everything is just restricted. Everything you have to go with by the government. You get to a certain point that you have to obviously cut off your education because you're going to be sent to military. Some families, mums, they don't know what their children happened to them, whether they died, whether they're still here, or whether even exists. My mum decided she doesn't want that to happen for me or my other siblings so she fled to Eritrea. I spent my life in Sudan 13 years. I've never been to school. I have my neighbour who is a teacher, who is the one teaching me how to read English and the mass and all of these things. We only had just one room. So that would be with me, with my mum and my siblings together. And it's a small thing, but it's kind of brings lots of memories, beautiful memories. My family didn't had any documentations. My mum always say to me, oh don't go out so much. If you don't have ID, you would be taken by the police force and then you can be sent back to your country. That's what happened to my dad. I never get to know where is he now.

 

I left Sudan when I was 16 years old, and that was the end of 2014. It was just a need for me to leave. There was no option for me to stay in Sudan. So therefore I have to just leave without telling my family or telling my my mum because otherwise she will stop me. It was just all of a sudden happen. And I was the oldest of my siblings. I felt the need for me that to to just move from Sudan. I left with my friends, three of us. It was a small car crossing the Sahara. The adrenaline of like continuously that I have to just keep going, keep going. And I couldn't look back and just decide that I. Oh, I'm not I can't do it. So let's let's go back to Sudan. So it was just, um, it's just there was a moment of continue moving from place to place and thus, um, started from Sudan and I went to Libya and then from Libya to crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, and then from Italy to France, and then from France to Calais, from Calais to the UK. We always like in fear that we have to be like hidden. We have to be covered. They should, if they see a car that come in like crossing the border. So you have to be like always. The like, mind your head. Nothing is gonna gonna happen to you. We been placed in the house that there was no, like, any food or any water. And you don't get to see the sun. You just have to be kept inside with full of so many people there in one room. And you will hear the shooting, because there was always shooting guns there. And you just have to pray that this bullet doesn't come to your head. So many females being raped or being abused by males happening there. I think I was just lucky because I speak the language, so I understand what they saying. I would move from the place if something came across to me. Could be any like dangerous physically. To cross the Mediterranean Sea was in the small boats. Halfway to get to Italy. The boat starts sinking. I remember there's water and everyone trying to get this water outside. I start praying that, um, that something is gonna happen. Like, something is gonna be gonna come and just save us. Luckily, the Italian border came and then they just took us in the big ship. In Calais. I saw people like jumping at the back of the lorry and I tried couple time and I guess because of my size was small it was easy for me to enter inside and from there the lorry goes to the train and then the train obviously arrived to the UK and um, it was a, it was a daytime that when I came to here when the UK police found me. When I arrived here, I was 17 years old, so they decided to put me with a foster family. I was so exhausted. And I just want to, just to sleep. My fosters start to teach me, what's the pound what's the royal family, and all of these things started to know about the country. But it's more like in the back of my head, am I safe, is this really. I can trust those people, even though their approach is welcoming and supporting. Everything is just back. Came back from the beginning.

 

That's the reason I used to stay in my room. Just to kind of get this thing away from my head, but it was never did. So when I left was with other two friends. By the time I crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. I asked about my friend, one of them. He didn't make it because their boat is just sunk in the sea. I felt like, why me and why him? And that's the the, the moment of like reflecting back about the journey. Like why did we already left from the very beginning and why I was lucky to be here and why this is happening to him. The journey was full of danger, full of terrifying moment. The thing that keeps me alive would be like my hope that God is going to be with me. I always say that from Sudan to the UK it was one journey. But living in the UK is my second journey. When I came here, the most shocking things that I felt like really sad and upset to the point that I was just, um, I said, why, why, why is that? All things that I've done it and nothing is going to be sorted out. And I guess not being with my family, it took me more like it kind of shocked me more when I came here. You cannot bring your family. You can't bring your siblings. I spent the time, a long time in my room because like I asked him, why did I left? And nothing is going to be happen with it. But my foster care took me on a positive journey. I would say to think about no Rishan. You can now think about what things you wanted to do in terms of education. How are you going to be supporting them by first supporting yourself? And I always say, I want to go to university. I want to do nursing, which is now what I'm doing. I'm in my final year of nursing. I definitely want to be a nurse to work in the NHS. I would say I like the word refugee. I like people to refer me as refugee. Anyone in their life. We seek refuge in something. Being a refugee and being always heard the word illegal, Illegal. I'm always looked up on a way of on a negative perspective. I'm here to seek safety. Nobody would like to die in a journey. Nobody would like to be separated from their family. The point that is just you don't have an option for plan A or B, you just have to leave. I know KRAN since I came here, I was a service user. Like I was just young person attending classes. There was a role of youth ambassador and that's where I apply for it. I feel like there's a platform for me in KRAN to advocate about this situation. I want to reach more people to talk about our story. This is my situation. This is my story. I'm proud to be like refugee because it's nothing wrong with being a refugee.

Refugee Stories: Rishan

Video length - 6.36
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Climate change is a global pressing issue. In this film we are looking into the Psychology behind what people are thinking in relation to Climate change. Caroline Hickman a climate psychology expert and Dr Liz Marks a clinical and research psychologist share their views on how climate change is affecting us psychologically and how we can manage our anxieties in relation to climate change.

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-anxiety

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

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

Climate Change: Psychology

Caroline: Hi. So my name is Caroline Hickman. I'm a psychotherapist and a lot of the work I do is supporting people with climate change, anxiety and distress. Eco anxiety is the healthy response that we have when we see what's happening to the planet. There's nothing wrong with feeling this. In fact, if you feel eco anxiety, it's because you care. You should be proud that you care.

 

Liz:         Hi, I'm doctor Liz Marks. I'm a clinical and research psychologist. Eco and climate anxiety are the words used to describe the different thoughts and feelings that lots of people have about what's happening with climate change, and the damage that's being done to the natural world. Although the term is eco anxiety, most people feel lots of different feelings. They might feel scared and anxious, but they might also feel quite down or sad. They might feel angry, and they often feel overwhelmed. All of these feelings are very valid and very normal. In response to what's happening to the climate at the moment.

 

Caroline: We're gonna have lots of mixed feelings about this and they all make complete sense. Think of yourself as a bus. So on this bus, you want to have all of your feelings, your anger, your despair, your optimism, your sadness, your anxiety, your rage. But you also need your I want to save the planet person to have a seat on the bus. It just depends who's got hold of the steering wheel on any one particular day. Don't try and get rid of your anxiety. Let it be part of the bus, but don't let it get hold of the steering wheel all day, every day. It can have its turn at the steering wheel and then the personality, the bus conductor, the part of you that is conducting the orchestra with all these emotions says, okay, you, you've had your turn now we're going to have calm and contented driving the bus for a bit. You need all of these different parts of you to take their turn.

 

Liz:         When you're experiencing anxiety. Quite a lot of different things happen in your brain and body, and the main thing is that chemicals and hormones are released. These chemicals and hormones travel through the body and make changes that prepares the body for the fight or flight response. And what that means is, when we're facing a threat, the body needs to get ready to respond to the threat by fighting it, by pushing it away or by running away the flight. And that's why things happen in the body. Like your muscles tense, you breathe more quickly. Your blood is being pumped around the body by the heart more quickly, so the body's basically ready for action. Anxiety is a completely natural, healthy, and useful human response. Without anxiety, we wouldn't be able to respond to threats in our environment, and we wouldn't be able to keep ourselves safe from those threats.

 

Caroline: We need our anxiety because it helps us. It tells us when we should be scared of something. We need our anger because it's good to get angry when things are threatening you, or you need to say no to someone who's trying to push you around. If something's hurt us, we need to feel upset. But you don't want to stay upset for a week. You want to be upset, say you're upset, deal with those feelings and let the upset and just move on. And that gives us the emotional intelligence and the emotional resilience that we need. How do we get resilience? Not by everything going perfectly or smoothly. We develop emotional resilience by struggling with things, by getting things wrong, by sometimes failing. And then you get back up and then you try again, and then you get back up, and then you try again. Each time you get back up and try again, your resilience grows and you get stronger and you get more able to deal with the ups and downs and the ins and outs of life. And then you start to get to the point where you think, I can, I can find a way through this, I can deal with this.

 

Liz:         So if you are feeling anxious or sad or angry or any other feelings, that's completely natural and healthy. However, it can also be very painful and distressing and overwhelming, and it can sometimes feel like you maybe can't stop it from happening. So it's also really important to look for support or help and people you can talk to about it to help you through.

 

Caroline: One way to think about this is think about yourself sitting on a rock surrounded by water, and just imagine your emotions and your thoughts flowing in the water around you so you're not disconnected from them. You can see them. You can stick your toes in the water. You can see your feelings, think your thoughts, but don't throw yourself off your rock. Don't go and immerse yourself too much in them. And if you do, fall off the rock, get back on the rock and observe and think about your feelings and your thoughts. You can say to yourself, I have a body, but I am not my body. I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I have feelings, but I am not my feelings. You can both connect with them and identify with them, and then decide by so that you're not completely overwhelmed. If you feel anxiety, it is. Remember it is you who is feeling the anxiety. Don't become anxiety.

 

Liz:         Nature or being in nature can be a really positive thing for your mental health and well-being. There's loads and loads of evidence to show this, but don't take my word for it. Think about it yourself. Or go out into nature and see what happens to how you feel. Spending time with people who feel the same way can also be a really nice way of getting engaged with doing things that might give you a sense of being able to make a difference. People find that getting engaged in action, particularly in action with other people, is really, really good for helping them feel less overwhelmed by their eco anxiety. One of the things that's really helpful about it is it helps us to align what's important to us with what we're doing, and that's really good for our mental health and wellbeing. There are different types of action. There's the action that we can take as an individual. So for example, recycling more, cycling more and driving less and not flying so much. And perhaps we can convince people around us to do similar things. And then there's collective action or group action. And that's where we maybe join a group of people where sometimes we can make slightly bigger changes happen because there's more of us. But it's really important to to recognise that as an individual or even as somebody, as part of a collective or a group, there is only so much impact that we're going to have on climate change. So it's balancing that recognition that you can act on climate change and do what you want to do and do what you can do, but that ultimately it's not your responsibility or the responsibility of your group to solve climate change or to make the really big changes that the world needs to see. That responsibility lies with state authorities, with governments, with big business and powerful people. And sometimes the action that we need to take is getting them to see that it's their responsibility, not ours, as the individual.

 

Caroline: Any form of action, any form of activism is valuable. But remember, you want to balance up that external activism with internal activism. You also need to deal with how you feel as well as take action out there in the world. One of the difficulties is if you just focus on external action out there in the world and you feel that it's not enough and that other people are not doing enough, and yet you do more and more and more and it's still not enough is you can then just get overwhelmed or exhausted or what people call burnt out. So balance that up with having downtime. Take a night off, sit on the sofa, eat pizza, chill out with your friends, have time out and time off. As well as taking action. You are a person. You do not have to save the planet on your own. Working together, we can do something collectively and be more powerful. Your individual action is important, but you're also not personally responsible for all the problems on the planet. The thing about eco anxiety is it's not necessarily the same as other forms of mental health distress we wouldn't want to cure or fix or get rid of eco anxiety because it's an emotionally mentally healthy response. What we do need to do is understand it and make friends with it. We need to learn to work with it so that we're understanding that it's here for a reason. To motivate us to take action, to teach us to care, to help us build a better world for ourselves and our children and children all over the world. So the last thing I want to do is get rid of it. We really do need to understand that it's more of a moral upset and a moral injury than a mental illness. So the thing to do is acknowledge. Just recognize. Just tell yourself it's okay to feel a bit overwhelmed by this sometimes and take a step back. Take time out, take a break and just breathe and just relax and just know you're not the only one worrying about this. There's wonderful people all over the world lawyers, psychologists, teachers, educators, community activists, some politicians taking action on this. So you're part of that collective. You're not on your own.

 

Climate Change: Psychology

Video length - 09.52
Published date - May 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Climate change is a global pressing issue. It affects everyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs. But in this film we are focusing on the viewpoints on the climate crisis from the Buddhist community. How does Buddhism tackle climate change and what are some of the steps they are taking help alleviate the problems we are facing.

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-anxiety

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

Climate Change: Buddhism

Sean:       A Zen Buddhist is a tradition of Buddhism where there's a focus predominantly on meditation. The word Zen actually comes from a Sanskrit word, dhyana, and a Chinese word, chan, and it means meditation. So it's practicing Buddhism through meditation. Zen Buddhism Buddhism in general is not particularly a belief system. So Buddhism itself is kind of some guiding principles that are about people discovering their true nature. And the end result of that is to try and end suffering. So Buddha taught that life. Life is suffering. It contains suffering, old age, illness and death, and that there is a path through practice, through meditation, through how we live, whereby we can bring an end to the suffering we might experience. That doesn't mean that we won't die, but it means that we don't need to actually suffer. There is no distinction between it being the suffering of humans, or the suffering of plants, or the suffering of animals. As a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, my aim, as grand as it might seem, is to end the suffering of all beings. So you can't practice that without being concerned about nature.

 

David:     Basically, from a Buddhist point of view. Humans and nature are completely interdependent, but isn't very much about that. All things are interdependent with each other. So if we if we harm the natural world, we are harming ourselves. If we take care of the natural world, then we're taking care of ourselves. It's very simple. Of course, the Buddha, when he became enlightened, he was meditating underneath a tree. So he had great respect for trees. And actually, in a lot of Buddhist countries, there are Buddhist movements protecting trees and protecting rivers and things. It's always been very important in Buddhism. We follow Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Himalayan Buddhist tradition. It's a very, very fragile ecosystem there. So the people that are extremely environmentally conscious, and that's all part of, you know, the Buddhist practice.

 

Bell:        What I was saying earlier in my meditation to myself is nothing is anyone's and everyone is each other's. And I think that's a pretty spiritual way of looking at nature, I guess the oneness of it. That's what I'm trying to say. That there's no distinction between nature and you and you and nature and me and you and. Yeah, we've made distinctions and it's not very helpful.

 

Sean:       Buddhism and activism. There's been a lot written about it, so a term that resonates with me is Engaged Buddhism. So what can be a Buddhist and sit on a cushion and meditate and kind of hope that being a good person influences other people, and that will happen and it will ripple out. But then there is also a practice of saying, is that enough? Do you also need to get off the cushion and be visible and be a voice that stands up? So not taking life is one of the Buddhist precepts, but standing by while other life is taken isn't something that aligns with that either. So many Buddhists. Might struggle a bit. Finding the balance. There's a balance between doing something that is ultimately spiritual and something that's just very practical and worldly. But the two of them can't really be separated. My teacher's teacher describes Zen as a sword that cuts two into one. So this is about bringing the ordinary everyday world and the spiritual together and not seeing them as two separate things. So to be a good Zen Buddhist and a good Zen Buddhist teacher, which is what I try to be. You can't do that on your cushion alone. Do it on the cushion, and you do it out in the street and in the real world where people aren't, and certainly Extinction Rebellion Buddhists. It's a great family of people from all different Buddhist traditions who are aligned in that thinking that we must do more than just meditate at home.

 

Bell:        The overlap between climate activists and Buddhists. Big Venn diagram, big overlap there. I actually didn't know about the Extinction Rebellion Buddhist group until yesterday, and I have morphed over to it. And I've really enjoyed it. I found it really powerful because I automatically feel a connection to other bidders, even if I don't know them. There's a mutual understanding I feel at home. And to add on top of that, that everyone's here because they care about the climate. A lot of Buddhist ethics are about not doing harm, acting with deeds of loving kindness, being generous, being kind, being acting with integrity and authenticity. All of these things are the kind of things that everyone here is displaying, not just the Buddhists. I think Buddhists can bring something to climate activism that is needed. And I think that's this really beautiful way that we can display how we're channeling rage and anger into a peaceful and calm way of doing it.

 

David:     I think it's everybody's responsibility to look after the planet. We can't leave it to the government because the government is just a really projection of the mind of all the people. So if people are not being environmentally conscious, we're not going to get an environmentally conscious government. Um, we all depend on each other. We depend on the animals, we depend on the plants, we depend on the whole ecosystem. Um, and we can't there's nobody up there who's going to do it for us. So unless everybody takes responsibility, it's not going to happen.

 

Climate Change: Buddhism

Video length - 06.08
Published date - Apr 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

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

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