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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

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

Roots of Carnival celebrates London’s annual carnival held in Notting Hill – a perfect resource for Black History Month. It features a host of voices from those who attend the event and those who help organise it. Made in conjunction with the BFI Documentary Residential.

Roots Of Carnival

Zephaniah : Carnival is family.

 

Khirleasha :Fun. Freedom. Cultural.

 

Sherma: It's very exciting.

Carnival is part of the roots of Notting Hill. Carnival started because black people who came from Caribbean to Ladbroke Grove, and that is why Carnival happened in Notting Hill and not anywhere else. It goes all around Notting Hill, comes right back around in a circle, goes through Queensway, Bayswater and up to Kensal Rise.

 

Leslie: Where Carnival celebrates the freedom of the enslaved people - The African people remember the old African traditions and mixed with the French traditional costumery, or characters in the carnival, they express themselves, and after today, it's an expression of freedom.

 

Sherma: Merle Major is a woman that started Carnival in Ladbroke Grove, and she's also a political activist in the community.

 

Khirleasha : For Caribbean people, the police were very rough with us and the area was very rough in itself, rough in terms of housing. So the black people did not get any decent housing, although they were invited to come here to fill the labour market gap that was left after the war.

The reason it's important to tell Merle Major's story is because Merle Major had a duty of care to the community where young people really trusted her and they felt safe in her company.

She's like a leading figure within the Ladbroke Grove community. She was well respected in the black community.

 

Sherma: She wanted to give them that safe place that they could come to and tell her their problems, and she would help them with housing.

For anything that was difficult for them, she was there to help them. So when we had Carnival, Carnival was to help people to make something, be creative, do this, do that, everybody get involved. People started to hear about Carnival. Bigger, more bigger stars started to come over, you know, big bands, and it just got bigger and bigger. And, you know, nobody really wanted to go home. Nobody thought that even Carnival was going to turn out like this.

 

Khirleasha : Carnival is everything. We live for Carnival all year round. Even right now we're doing a countdown. We're like, "what are we gonna wear for Carnival?" It just means everything. It's like it just brings so much happiness.

 

Sherma: You wake up and you get this, you hear this music and you think, 'I'm sleeping', and then, "'what is that noise?" And then all of a sudden - you think, "it's Carnival!"

 

Zephaniah: It's just a big mood. That's all I can call it. Like, it's vibes. It's euphoric and you'll be family.

 

Sherma: It's made a lot of money. It's brought people together. The whole community comes out now. They sell their food and anything. Their culture is all involved. It's a really beautiful thing.

 

Khirleasha: To someone who had never been to Carnival before, I would say it's like a big party in the street.

 

Vaugnie: It's gonna be your best time. You're going to have the time for your life.

 

Khirleasha: It's like a big festival in the street.

My favourite thing about Notting Hill Carnival is just how different London looks when it's happening.

 

Corey: I'd say my favourite part about Carnival is the music and definitely the food.

 

Khirleasha: The way that, all of the streets get boarded up. The fact that the road just looks completely different because there's no cars, people are just walking in the road. It just feels so free.

 

Zephaniah: I've been to Carnival in London. I've been to Carnivals in Berlin, Germany, and also Trinidad.

 

Vaugnie: The Carnival is longer in Trinidad. And here (London) it's just two days.

 

Corey: I'm out with a with a friend from near where I live, but by the time I got there, you know, like you get five minutes in and you've lost them already.

 

Khirleasha: I fell asleep. I got so tired from the walk in with our mass band that we had like a bus. You know, sometimes there's like floats and buses. So we had a bus going behind us, and my parents just put me in the bus and I just fell asleep, and then I woke up and I couldn't see my parents and they were outside still walking, but I was like freaking out because I was like, "where's my mum, where's my dad?"

 

Zephaniah: The moment you turn left and turn your head, your best friend, your sister, your cousin, they are gone.

 

Khirleasha: It was funny because it's just like - the other thing I love about Carnival is it's just full of aunties and uncles. I feel like there's always people there that just want to look out for you.

Jubilee is festival of colour.

 

You need to make sure you cover your hair because everyone's throwing paint, powder, baby powder, flour. I love Panorama. I love to hear the Steelpans. I can sit there and just listen to it all day. There's all these different groups and they all battle it out. I just love it. I think it sounds so sweet. Like a pan beating. It's amazing. I love it.

 

Sherma: Caribbeans were like Trinidadians, so Trinidadians were into Calypso. I mean, we all know Jamaicans like reggae, but they also are involved in the carnival now as well. They have Soca. It spreads everywhere now.

For us, it's the masquerade and it's going with the floats, it is the dressing up, it's going in costume and parading for the day, you know what I mean? Like, that's unity.

 

Zephaniah: I want it to just remain wholesome and be what it is. You know what I mean? I want the message to always be there and just never leave. So it's carried on through my children's children's children's children, you know? I mean, everyone can have fun. You know what I mean? But go and experience the culture and see what it's actually about and you will have a better understanding of what Carnival is and what it stands for.

 

Khirleasha: That's it.

 

Zephaniah: Come on, man.

 

Sherma: Thank you. Thank you.

 

Roots of Carnival

Video length - 06.00
Published date - Oct 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

The film follows Seren, a mixed-heritage British girl, as she discovers what being British means to her, and how the service contributions of Black, African, and Caribbean men and women are recognised in today’s multi-cultural society.

Seren meets with a group of young Black and British persons each with different heritages – Ghanian, Jamaican, Barbadian, Nigerian, Zimbabwean – to discuss whether Black people and those from the Commonwealth feel included in Remembrance Sunday, when we honour the service and sacrifice of persons past and present. They discuss their feelings before watching an interview with a Captain born in London with Ugandan and Rwandan heritage, discussing his identity and service. 

A film by Alastair Collinson.

The Royal British Legion: Black and British; Sacrifice and Service (KS2)

Video length - 08.49
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 2
Downloadable resources

The film follows Seren, a mixed-heritage British girl, as she discovers what being British means to her, and how the service contributions of Black, African, and Caribbean men and women are recognised in today’s multi-cultural society.

Seren meets with a group of young Black and British persons each with different heritages – Ghanian, Jamaican, Barbadian, Nigerian, Zimbabwean – to discuss whether Black people and those from the Commonwealth feel included in Remembrance Sunday, when we honour the service and sacrifice of persons past and present. They discuss their feelings before watching an interview with a Captain born in London with Ugandan and Rwandan heritage, discussing his identity and service. 

A film by Alastair Collinson.

The Royal British Legion: Black and British; Sacrifice and Service (KS3)

Video length - 09.49
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 3
Downloadable resources

Black British Stories – Christina Shingler: In this short film Felix, aged 10, talks to his grandmother Christina (Tina) Shingler, a writer who decided to do something about the lack of black characters in British literature.

Felix interviews Tina to find out what life was like growing up as one of the only two black children at her school in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Tina was often teased and her ‘frizzy’ hair in particular, became a target. To deal with this, Christina lost herself in books and spent much of her time at Ripon library.

She always dreamed about was being a princess but she never found any princesses in books that looked like her. They all had “silky smooth, grade-A blonde, princess hair”; this was something that Christina could not identify with.

In 2004 Tina decided to do something about the imbalance of black characters in British literature and she wrote Princess Katrina and the Hair Charmer.

This film is from the series Black British Stories. A collection of short films for primary schools, exploring the experiences and contributions of people from communities across the UK, and celebrating the rich contribution of the black community to the culture, society and economy of the UK.

These short films are suitable for teaching history at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at 2nd Level in Scotland.

For teachers’ notes and more episodes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/class-clips-video/history-ks2-black-british-stories/z3w84xs

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

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

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

A film by Alastair Collinson.

Black British Stories – Christina Shingler

Video length - 04.16
Published date - Oct 2021
Keystage(s) - 2

Centre Stage: Racism in the U.K. – This film discusses the existence of racism in the U.K. and demonstrates healthy conversation and good communication skills when discussing challenging topics.

Centre Stage: Racism in the U.K.

Video length - 03.46
Published date - Oct 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5
Downloadable resources

Belong – Many children and young people have to move to a new school, a new city, or a new country. In this film, young people describe how it feels to start a new life and find a new home.

Courtesy of Coram.

This film was co-produced by Coram Life Education and Coram Young Citizens, an ambassador programme for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Free lesson and assembly plans exploring the theme of belonging can be found on their site here.

Belong

Video length - 04.58
Published date - Mar 2020
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4