Off The Record: A Lifeline For Young People In Bath

As a proudly independent Bath business, Reside has always endeavoured to engage and give back to the local community through a variety of different initiatives. One such commitment is made through our membership of the Bath Percent Club, whose members pledge to contribute a percentage of their profits to local causes. Each year, we ask our staff to select and research a local charity for us to support.

At the end of 2020, our staff unanimously selected Off The Record Bath & North East Somerset as their charity of choice. Through their work in the local community, Off The Record helps to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of young people; their Fundraising Manager Martha Robbins kindly took the time to speak to us about the important work they do.

Could you summarise what Off The Record does? What is the make-up of the charity / how many volunteers do you have?
Off The Record is a youth charity covering Bath and North East Somerset and beyond, powered by 20 volunteers, 22 counsellors, and employing 39 people. We provide life-changing support to young people who come to us in crisis, and carry out ground-breaking community work that acts as a safety net, preventing vulnerable children slipping through the cracks.

Many people may be unaware of the extent of the issues faced by young people in the Bath area. What kind of support do you provide?
In 2019, we provided around 30,000 sessions to young people from ages 10-25 with our extensive array of support projects, which are all entirely free of charge.

For those going through traumatic experiences such as family breakdown, our advocacy team protects children thrown into situations that they will struggle to navigate alone, such as being removed from their families and placed into the care system.

For those at breaking point, having been dealing with painful circumstances or serious mental health conditions alone, our counselling and listening support team is a welcome out-stretched hand, providing confidential sessions in a comfortable setting to turn around a young person’s outlook.

And for those who want to change the world around them, our participation team works to involve young people in meaningful projects that contribute to our community, to help give them purpose and the support bubble we all need.

What new challenges have you faced during 2020, specifically with regards to Covid-19? And how has it affected the young people you work with?
The effects of Covid-19 have only increased the need for our services. Now more than ever, the public recognises that ‘home’ feels like an unsafe place far too many young people. Isolation, academic stress, unemployment, so many issues that can affect young people and their families have been intensified by the pandemic. For instance, we have seen a 40% increase in referrals compared to this time last year, particularly relating to self-harm, suicidal thoughts and family relationships.

We have seen a 40% increase in referrals compared to this time last year, particularly relating to self-harm, suicidal thoughts and family relationships

Thankfully, we have been able to continue to provide all our advocacy, counselling, and community-based work in person or on-line, in accordance with government guidelines over 2020. It has been a challenge for all our staff and volunteers, but we are lucky to have such an amazing team that pulls together.

What are your hopes for the future of Off The Record?
Despite the evident setbacks this past year, it’s the success stories from our service users that keeps us driven and focused. One big goal in the coming months is to better promote and celebrate the great work Off The Record does. We also have been made part of the Rank Foundation’s Time 2 Shine scheme for 2021, which has enabled us to welcome a dedicated fundraising officer. With the support of our donors and the local community, we are quietly optimistic for the year ahead and what we can achieve for the young people we serve.

How can people help to support the charity?
To support us you can:

  • donate to keep our vital services free of charge
  • subscribe to our newsletter so we can send happy news to your inbox once a month
  • follow our social media to keep an eye on future events and opportunities, and share them with parents, guardians and young people you know.

You can find Off The Record on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Toby Martin

Toby holds a Level 3 ARLA Propertymark qualification and runs the 'engine room' at Reside, making sure that properties are perfectly-presented and that they are let quickly at a good rent. When not working, Toby is happiest when enjoying a day's cricket.