One of the greatest joys of my role as People & Partnerships Assistant is that I get to lead on our charity of the year partnership. In the name of democracy, we put it out to the team to vote for which charity they would like to support. We took inspiration from our French neighbours and had a two stage voting system to ensure everyone’s voice was heard and a clear winner was found - the charity the team most wanted to support was OTR Bristol.
For those of you that haven’t heard of OTR, they work with young people (11 - 25 years of age) to raise awareness of common mental health issues they may be faced with and to empower them to find the best ways in which to address, manage and overcome them. There is a strong focus on community and openness as a method in itself, helping their service users realise that many challenges they face are shared. Originally called Off the Record, OTR were founded in 1965. It was a ground-breaking service that allowed young people to come and talk about their mental health without their parents or carers needing to know. What was shared was respected, listened to and kept confidential.
Nowadays, OTR are based just down the road from our office on Old Market. After an initial email expressing our wish to support OTR (and flurry of excitement from their Marketing Manager, Liam), an intro meeting and tour of their drop in centre was booked for the following week - and what a wonderful experience that was. Their drop in centre and offices are filled with light and brightly coloured murals by local artists. The space truly reflects their young person-led approach.
There’s much to know about OTR and the services they provide, but here are a few of my favourite details:
- Young people can self-refer - no need to see a GP or mental health practitioner.
- Their menu of services is made up of various groups and hub activities including Creative Drop-In sessions, Book Club, Yoga, Resilience Lab and Freedom - a gender and sexuality youth group.
- Many groups and activities are run by young people or volunteers who have previously benefited from the services.
Edo will support OTR over the next year through fundraising activities and skill sharing. Our running team has already raised over £500, a World Cup Sweepstake is underway and a mini ‘Discovery Day’ is booked in for Edo team members to share knowledge and skills with OTR. As you will see from their website, OTR are practising what Edo often preaches to our clients - to always have your customers, and their needs, at the heart of everything you do.