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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

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

What are British Values? What do they mean? The government says they are: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, respect for different beliefs – and that they should be taught in schools. TrueTube took to the streets during the late Queen’s Jubilee to test who actually even knows that (?!), in a series of voxpop interviews. But before revealing the answers, we asked the people what they personally think defines ‘Britain’…

British Values

Great Britain. The British Isles. Britannia. We all know what it means to be British. And of course, we all share the same values.

 

Whoa, hang on. Do we, though? It seems to me there's a lot of debate about that.

 

Well, you can't get more British than Shakespeare.

 

What about music festivals?

 

Bangers and mash.

 

Barbecues in the rain.

 

Seaside holidays.

 

Chicken tikka masala.

 

Bagpipes.

 

Seagulls.

 

Royal Guards.

 

Folk music.

 

British bulldog. Taxis.

 

Carnival. Bowls. British Values. What do you think they are and what do they mean? We sent a film crew out onto the streets of London during the late Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee to ask random people some key questions about Britain's identity. Are you British?

 

I am. Yes.

 

Yes. Yes.

 

Yes recently. This is the fifth year that I'm living in the UK and I am applying for becoming British. That's why I am still learning from it. I'm from Iran.

 

I'm as English as they come.

 

Yes. In education. In values. And in understanding the system. Yes.

 

I'm Welsh, actually, I'm from Wales. I now live in Newcastle. But yeah, British through and through.

 

Yes.

 

No. We are from India. And we are just students here. Master students.

 

Yes.

 

No.

 

I am British, born in Scotland, but I classify myself as British. British subject.

 

What do you think of when I say Britain?

 

The Queen, the castle and the corgi.

 

Uh... good humour.

 

Football.

 

Rain. Although it's not raining.

 

The bus. The red bus. Of course. Yeah.

 

You have a pretty flag.

 

Traditional royal telephone. I mean, not royal.

 

Number one is the monarchy because there is no other country on the planet Earth that has a constitutional monarchy that has that unique arrangement between parliament, the ministers and monarchy.

 

What do you think Britain's values are?

 

There ain't any - that's the problem eh.

 

With things like democracy, it's obviously really important for our country. And we see around the world where that isn't the case. You know, and how sad that is.

 

Fairness. That means everybody has a say. Everybody has a part.

 

Hospitality. Accommodating all people from all around the world, I mean me as well. And the second thing is that they're very kind and very warm.

 

Today everyone's out being patriotic, isn't it? But yeah. Any other day. No, no one's too English are they.

 

Being kind? Um, help each other and go to the pub and have fun.

 

British values used to be according to scripture, according to the Bible.

 

When we talk about British, we're talking about generosity. Caring. And consideration for other people. Humanity. Humanity. Everything. Multiculture. Multiculture. Yes, of course. Yeah.

 

I think there's a stigma with British. I think for a lot of people it's probably being well spoken. I think it's being quite upper class, and I think that stigma hopefully has now gone.

 

Um having your own individual views. Teaching children that they should have a right to be heard and we should listen to them and respect their views and they should therefore respect the views and the rights of other people that they're growing up with.

 

Next, we told them the government's four official British values: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs.

 

I think they're very good. They should stick to them.

 

Yeah, I see it in everyday aspects of my life. I can feel it and touch it. Yeah. All these four values, especially democracy.

 

Are the British living up to those values?

 

Tries to.

 

Yeah. Yes they are. Yeah.

 

No. Do we hell. No, no, not at all, I don't think so.

 

I think generally the majority of people want to. Whether our leaders do is another matter.

 

Well, you can't live up to them if you forget God, see if you forget God in your life, you live a life of sin.

 

They've been supportive for us. And they are always ready to accept everyone from any country or anything like.

 

I wouldn't agree to that.

 

Yeah. No, I don't think fully.

 

Yeah. Rule of law, I think that's a difficult one. I think you should learn enough I think this day and age, and especially down to being able, like, competent when you leave school, to be able to say, well, what is right and wrong?

 

Not, not every member of the country is equal under the law. And especially those in power. Which is quite hypocritical of them.

 

You can't preach something and then not do it.

 

Democracy can be quite a big thing in terms of what we have that other countries necessarily don't. And I think sometimes that can be in a positive or a negative manner.

 

Sometimes there are only poor choices, but we still have to make a choice.

 

The actual concept of monarchy is completely contradictory to democracy as a sentiment. It's just one person who has arbitrary power.

 

We're supposed to be the United Kingdom, but in my opinion, we are now the perverted kingdom. The situation is now that lying has been institutionalised in the political realm.

 

You definitely feel that our British values have been lost. It seems.

 

Not lost, destroyed.

 

What examples are there of British values in action?

 

I got a neighbour. She's almost about 70 years old, and she told me that she's going to throw a party for the elderly people that are living in the care house - care homes. And she's doing very much in order to prepare food for these parties, for the platinum Jubilee parties. And I'm so excited to see how she's keen to prepare everything for people.

 

Where we live near Tynemouth, the north coast, there's some groups that support people who are struggling with mental health and they do that by going wild swimming early in the morning. So there's groups for children and for adults to get into the water on the North Sea. Right. Pretty cold and doing that, fresh, in the morning, in the middle of winter, is really helpful for your mental health.

 

Through work, you know we have the values of treating everyone fairly, making sure that, you know, that we take everyone at face value, that nobody, you know, like pre-judging or down to, you know, anything to do with religion or ethnicity or anything like that. And I think you need to have those values going forward because everybody's equal on that point. So hopefully that's what the next generation will see.

 

Any country's values change with time and vary from person to person. Traditions matter more to some than others.

 

Ha! Indeed they do.

 

But new traditions need the chance to evolve. What do you think of the government's official values and what makes Britain 'Britain' in the 21st century?

 

British Values

Video length - 7.27
Published date - Apr 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Rise Up 5: Tyler – Tyler’s story concludes the Rise Up short films, showing our four young climate activists being interviewed by Tyler, now a professional journalist reporting in 2025 from a climate summit. In the interviews, they each give advice to their younger selves.

This short film is part of the Rise Up series at the centre of How Will You Reboot the Future? – a campaign by Reboot the Future empowering educators to start new conversations on the climate crisis and support young people to take action.

To download the accompanying teaching guide, as well as the inspiration behind the films, a new novella by Jonathon Porritt, visit www.globaldimension.org.uk/resources/campaign-tyler

Rise Up 5: Tyler

Video length - 05.36
Published date - May 2021
Keystage(s) - 4 and 5

Rise Up 4: Jay – Jay’s story splits into three different timelines as we follow a teenager whose various approaches to speaking up and acting on the climate crisis are each effective in their own way.

This short film is part of the Rise Up series at the centre of How Will You Reboot the Future? – a campaign by Reboot the Future empowering educators to start new conversations on the climate crisis and support young people to take action.

To download the accompanying teaching guide, as well as the inspiration behind the films, a new novella by Jonathon Porritt, visit www.globaldimension.org.uk/resources/campaign-jay

Rise Up 4: Jay

Video length - 05.03
Published date - May 2021
Keystage(s) - 4 and 5

Rise Up 3: Jamal – Jamal’s story, told through the lens of his friend Tyler’s handheld camcorder, features a school student in inner-city London with a love of growing and cooking his own food, and a dream of becoming a chef.

This short film is part of the Rise Up series at the centre of How Will You Reboot the Future? – a campaign by Reboot the Future empowering educators to start new conversations on the climate crisis and support young people to take action.

To download the accompanying teaching guide, as well as the inspiration behind the films, a new novella by Jonathon Porritt, visit www.globaldimension.org.uk/resources/campaign-ja

Rise Up 3: Jamal

Video length - 07.08
Published date - May 2021
Keystage(s) - 4 and 5

Rise Up 2: Erin – Erin’s story, featuring sweeping footage of the Norfolk coastline, follows a teenager passionately protesting about the climate crisis as she watches her grandfather’s home crumble into the sea.

This short film is part of the Rise Up series at the centre of How Will You Reboot the Future? – a campaign by Reboot the Future empowering educators to start new conversations on the climate crisis and support young people to take action.

To download the accompanying teaching guide, as well as the inspiration behind the films, a new novella by Jonathon Porritt, visit www.globaldimension.org.uk/resources/campaign-erin

Rise Up 2: Erin

Video length - 08.31
Published date - May 2021
Keystage(s) - 4 and 5