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Chat, Change, Inspire

Empowering young disabled people to make a difference Issue 27

For more information about The Chatterbox Project find us on: :chatterboxes

: @Chat_boxes


or visit our website:

:Chatter Box

We are over the moon to have been chosen as Exciting News the winners of the Celebrating Diversity

Award at the British Youth Council’s first ever Youth Voice Star Awards. The awards celebrate the breadth and diversity of local work happening across the UK to promote young people’s voices. The evening ceremony, took place in Islington, London on Thursday 9th November and several young people from The Chatterboxes took the big step of travelling there to receive the award. It was a chance for them to meet and be inspired by other organisations who provide a platform for youth voices across the UK and who tackle both local and national issues faced by young people. Chatterbox member Jayden, 15, who attended the event said: “I just can’t believe it. I was so proud when they said that we were the winners. I couldn’t stop smiling. It means so much as this project is amazing and being part of it has helped me so, so much. Just going to London was a huge achievement for me, so winning this big award was like the icing on the cake” Chatterbox member Natalie, 21 years said: “We are all thrilled to have won this award. I absolutely love being a member of The Chatterboxes because I can truly be myself”.

Winners of a National Youth Award

Mental Health Awareness Over the last few months we have been involved in activities which focus on mental health awareness for World Mental Health Day. Check out some of our highlights.

Being part of the #IamWhole Campaign with YMCA England & Wales

Last month I was very thrilled to take part in the NHS and YMCA England and Wales “#I am Whole Campaign�. The campaign is all about Mental Health and it was very exciting because I was interviewed by Stand-up comedian Lloyd Griffith. I spoke about my battle with anxiety. Mental Health is a very important subject and one that I am very passionate about, even more so since I suffered a family tragedy which bought on depression.

It was a fantastic day and I got to complete one of my life long goals which is to ruffle my face into a fluffy microphone which in technical terms is called a dougal (not the dog from Magic Round about). I learned so much from the experience and got my moment of fame. By Natalie

“We did a workshop to celebrate World Mental Health Day and to raise awareness. An old chatterbox volunteer who now works for a national mental health charity met with 4 older members including myself over 2 sessions to educate us on the topic and train us on delivering a workshop to others”.

“Once we were comfortable with our subject, we delivered a workshop to our younger group. We started this workshop by telling the group about Mental Health statistics, as in how many people have experienced mental health problems. I found this really very interesting because I was surprised about the different conditions such as Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar and Schizophrenia. For example if you have depression and feel sad sometimes, you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall. We finished the workshop by suggesting ways to cope with Mental Health issues. For example you could talk to an organisation such as “Childline” who can offer support and help”. By James One Chatterbox member who took part in the workshop shared her experiences. “Hi. I have depression and social anxiety and suspected Asperger Syndrome. My mom only found out at the beginning of Year 8 when I told her. She took me to the doctor who recommended I take a break from school. Things got worse before they got better and the end of year 8 was really hard. What has helped is going out more, spending time being independent and talking to people”. “I would suggest binge watching “Downton Abbey” and “Doctor Who” on Netflix’s to take your mind off things! Another thing which has helped my mental health is challenging my brain by learning a new language. I can now speak German and I can also speak 4 words in Russian”.

Getting our voice heard We were so happy to be invited to speak at Bournemouth Council’s Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel in November and share what we do as a project, as a young person living in Bournemouth and suggestions on what could be improved. 4 of our members spoke in front of really important people from the council who make decisions about our town. It was a big deal for us as for many of us, this was the first time we had presented to a large audience. It was an amazing experience and we even got to speak through a microphone which was strange but cool.

Below are a few things we shared about why we enjoy living in Bournemouth. Jasmine explained that “Bournemouth is a great place to live for young people

including those with disabilities. There are lots of things to do and great places to go. Bournemouth has lots of great events happening all the time”. Ellie said “One of my highlights is The Big Night Out. This is a club night which

takes place in Cameo night club twice a year. There are lots of staff on hand to make it safe. It is a friendly and fun environment where we all have a great time. We get to meet up with our friends and meet new ones and the music is amazing”. Michelle explained that “As well as all the open public things there are some amazing

voluntary groups that people can attend, one example would be an Art group for people on the Autistic Spectrum. Shops like Asda also host “quiet evenings” which makes it far easier for people with disabilities to go and do their shopping”.

Our young presenters spent time gaining other Chatterbox members views about issues that should be raised. Below were their concerns.

• Safety “Safety is a big concern for many people particularly young people with disabilities. From talking to other young people with disabilities we know that it is common to feel vulnerable and frightened when out in public. Young people with disabilities can also be worried about being led into situations they don’t feel comfortable about”.

“At the moment, there are lots of homeless people around the town centre, especially on the walk between the bus stops and our Chatterbox session in Fusion Youth Club. They often ask us for money which can be frightening and intimidating. It’s not so bad in the summer but now it’s winter and getting dark early it is scary”.

• Transitions into adulthood

“One of the biggest worries for us is, what services will be available to us after our 25th Birthday. At 25 we move to adult services but we get very little information or preparation for this”.

One of our

“We know that there are some groups which aim to help to members find places for young people to move on to but many of explained “I am being these groups are already run off their feet and are supported struggling to keep up to become more with demand”.

independent. Not long ago I was having visits from a Personal assistant 2 days a week. This has recently reduced to just a Saturday with very little warning.

“As people get to 25 it doesn’t feel like there is enough knowledge of where to go when they move onto adult services. We need to be supported to know where this information is and it The PA has helped me to learn needs to be easy for us to access. independent skills like cooking, It can feel like everything is cleaning and shopping. They also provide me with safe social time to go finishing as we hit 25 and out. our whole On Sundays, I now have to go back to world turns my parents. I enjoy this but it is a step upside backwards in me becoming more independent. down”. I have also had workers say I should go to less of my groups and to go out to work where I can get paid. I would like to go out to work but I think I will need support to do a job”.

Making a difference Our visit to Nationwide Building Society We were invited by Nationwide Building Society at Richmond Hill, Bournemouth to provide a presentation to explain about Asperger’s and Autism to improve their services for co-workers and for the members they serve. Our presentation strived to challenge the myths and statistics that circulate around Autism. At the beginning we explained who we are and the aims of the Chatterbox Project. We then used ‘True’ or ‘False’ statements to explain some of the misconceptions around Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

Following this we explained how services can be improved via various methods of commu We suggested how meeting rooms could be laid out and what factors can affect people w environments, such as lighting and wall colour. We also gave information about how alter implemented and that the details must be transparent and not ambiguous.

The meeting was also observed through a live digital video system by other Nationwide b and Northampton (in addition to the local audience we were presenting to in Bournemou presentation to over 60 staff members across all sites in two sessions.

The response we have received has been overwhelming with every member of staff givin feedback forms, and thanking us for the invaluable information provided.

We hope to be able to give many more of these workshops in the future as it was so much

Would you or your organisation benefit from tailo young people? To find out more poppy.sargeaunt@ymcabournemouth.o

What did participants think of our workshop? What did you enjoy about the workshop? How it relates to my personal experiences

The Interaction

Hearing personal stories

The humour

The handouts The Presenters The video’s The interactive games

The overall presentation

unication. with disabilities in certain rations in routines should be

buildings located in Swindon uth). In total we provided our

The examples


“I think you’re all absolutely fantastic.” “Just want to say thank you to everyone. Your honesty and openness struck a chord with me, as no one should be bullied or feel uncomfortable because they are different. Thank you for your presentation once again, and thank you for continuing to educate.” “As someone recently diagnosed with Asperger’s, I found your workshop really helpful as a way to provide me with describing terms & further understanding.” “Your workshop was really “touching” and very interesting at the same time. The young people were very open with us when they were talking about their stories, which I personally think was very brave of them.”

ng 10 out of 10 on their

h fun.

ored workshops designed and run by e contact Poppy on: or ring 07827848479

“Thank you, you were awesome! You seemed very polished presenters. Keep doing it and spreading the word!” “I would love to say a massive thank you. You guys were very brave and super informative”.

Anti Bullying Awareness

Several of our members have been travelling around to deliver anti bullying awareness workshops within all our sessions which they had designed.

Their workshop focused on the theme “All Different, All Equal”, celebrating what makes everyone unique. They spent time explaining the types of bullying, effects of bullying, ways to report it and provided great advice to our members about what to do if they are being bullied. They also encouraged everyone to create a poster or character and below are some examples. Trey who ran the workshop with others said: “I told stories about bullying and I also did a Quiz. I loved it and it has helped with my confidence”.

Try out their quiz below 1. What percentage of people are bullied under the age of 25 years old? a) 15% b) 28% c) 46% d) 54%

2. What percentage of people have social anxiety (fear of social situations) as a result of being bullied? a) 18% b) 28% c) 37% d) 59%

3. Is bullying a criminal offence? a) Yes b) No c) Not sure

Answers: 1. 54%, 2. 37%, 3. It can be Some bullying is illegal and should be reported to the police. For example violence, stealing, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages and hate crimes.

Our part in Dorset Museum’s Disability Consultation

Several members of The Chatterboxes were invited to Dorchester County Museum as part of a disability focus group to provide feedback as to how museums across the UK can become more friendly for those with disabilities.

We had a great discussion during our time at the focus group, providing suggestions of how to cater to all kinds of people visiting museums. We looked at:

- Creating opportunities where visitors can interact with exhibits where possible .

- A visual online tour of the museum to help familiarise with the location before visiting. - Keeping the sensory space minimal to what is inside — don’t bombard with objects for the sake of it when people want to try and feel at ease.

It was a great day out and thankfully, Dorset Museum received a large Lottery grant to expand their building in Dorchester so we hope to consult with them during the expansion. By Jacob

Out and About The Big Night Out We were super excited to be part of this years 2nd Big Night Out at Cameo Nightclub in Bournemouth. This event was organised by People First Dorset, Bournemouth People First and Poole Forum and was attended by more than 400 people from across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.

“We really enjoyed the DJ’s and their choice of music. This included the Village People by the YMCA which we danced along to!! Some people found the music a bit loud but there are comfortable, quieter areas where you can go to relax which was great”. “There was food (burgers, sausages, ribs, etc), a bar with soft drinks & beer and a great atmosphere. We saw some old friends and also met some new people, which was great fun”. “Everybody enjoyed the evening and are waiting for the next time we can go again”. By Lucy, Trey, Jack

Sharing what we do; Our visit to Social Services “We visited the Child Health and Disability team at Bournemouth Town Hall, at the invitation of one of our volunteers, who is now part of their team. Each of us took some time to explain to the team about our Chatterbox Project. We wanted them to be aware of what we are doing, what we can offer and why our project is really important to us”. We actually forgot our speaking notes, so we gave a very natural and spontaneous account! It was quite daunting to speak in front of people as it was our first time but by the end we felt really proud of ourselves. Lots of their team said how brilliantly brave we were to speak to them and that they couldn’t believe we did so much in the community. The comments were lovely and we were on cloud 9 when we left”. By Sam and George

Peer Mentoring We held our very first ever Chatterbox residential at Sandyholme in Swanage where 6 Chatterbox members worked together to start designing a peer mentoring package for young people with disabilities which can be used in schools and youth settings. Michelle said “The peer mentoring residential has been a new exciting experience for all of us. For some of us it has been our first night away from home! The journey to Sandyholme was super fun! We boarded a ferry across the water to get into Studland where Sandyholme is. We worked hard as a group to get as much done as possible before having dinner which was fajita’s and nacho’s. The evening was relaxed, we had hot chocolate and basically got to know each other a lot better and had a whale of a time”. One of the Chatterboxes who took part said:

“Honestly the experience was really fun and some of us wished it was longer but we were all really happy to have such an experience and we all hope to do it again soon”. Another member said: “The residential was so much fun. It was very exciting because we completely revolutionised our training package and added a whole new module about Mental Health, which is a EXTREMELY paramount subject to me. It was a very fun and productive weekend. We had fajitas which I wouldn’t normally eat but I envied everyone eating them so tried them and I totally love them. I also overcame my OCD by walking around the house without my shoes on which was a huge step for me”.

Our Top Tips

Sometimes we find situations and tasks difficult. We want to share some of our suggestions on what would make our lives a little bit easier. Danielle says: Recently I was shopping with a friend when we had to ask a staff member for help locating something. She spoke to us really slowly and extremely loudly. This made us feel like we were stupid. Just because we are disabled doesn’t mean we need to be spoken to like a 5 year old child. One of the golden rules when talking to someone with a disability is never be patronising. Below are some tips which really help me. • • • • • •

When helping filling out forms, explain everything in small sections. If writing, use a larger text size. Be patient. Sometimes it takes a little time to process information. Offer to help. Don’t do it for us. Be kind using kind words. Suggest quiet times/ environments when anxious. George has recently moved house and says: It felt really scary moving house. If you are supporting someone to move, I would suggest doing a drive past the new home and visiting it a few times. That really helped me. You could also help them create a picture book of their new home with lots of photos.

Workshops by young people for young people Acceptance

One of our older members designed and ran a workshop about acceptance for all our sessions. She said: “I decided to do this workshop from my own experiences of acceptance by friends and from myself accepting them for who they are, especially in times like these where acceptance is truly needed in the world. Acceptance is a very hard thing to understand for many. I am a very accepting person no matter your race, disability, religion, gender, etc, but unfortunately in daily life I come across people who are far from accepting. That was why I was so keen to do this workshop.


One of our newest members from our younger group decided to run a workshop about poverty. In the session we talked about the important facts about poverty from Absolute poverty where people who do not have homes, food, water to Relative poverty where compared to everyone else they could not afford expensive stuff but they still have a home.

Puppet Show about morals Another of our older members ran an entertaining workshop about morals through the use of puppets. She said: “I thought long and hard about what story I should do and finally decided on the story of the Lion and the Mouse. It was good because it was funny and it has good morals. The lesson of the story is that anyone, no matter their background or circumstances can always make a difference and you shouldn’t let people tell you that you can’t do something just because you have a disability”.

The Creative Challenge

We are lucky to have our very own in - house games master who provides weekly games for our groups. Check out some of his puzzles below. WO T E A M W O R K E C E N D O B T D T L C A G V A B O I R L O C N I T D G V F B N H P C T K F E T E F I K E R Q P R G I I N Y K P R F S K N D G T O A N X I E G E N E R O S B N T D B A Q T C F R N P N E P E E R



















Can you find the words within the box? • • • • •


• • • • •



Chatterbox Quiz 1. How many Chatterboxes went on our peer mentoring residential? 2. What national Mental Health campaign were we part of? 3. What was the theme of our anti bullying workshops? 4. What award did we recently win? 5. What did we do at Nationwide Building Society?

Can you find out where all our characters are hidden within the magazine? Elton Magelton

Greg the Carrot

Berry Poppins

Ninja George

Winter 2017 chatterbox magazine  
Winter 2017 chatterbox magazine  

Check out our Chatterboxes winter magazine which is full of great articles from young people in the project.