Can you support Nai’s House?

Round & About

Mental Health

Oxford charity provides mental health support for young adults

Last year 65 people in Oxon took their own life – most of them young adults with suicide now the biggest cause of death for people under 35. Each death is heart-breaking – a tragedy, a terrible loss and a dreadful waste of potential. A death that changes the family they leave behind forever. 

There is a fantastic charity Nai’s House.  Set up in 2019 by Nai’s Mum – Gem after Nai sadly took her own life in 2017 aged just 22 , Nai’s House is a place of sanctuary, safety and support. It is a place that gives young people in crisis the safe space of a ‘home from home, a place where they can get the specialist help, they need, an environment that can help them hopefully turn a corner and move through crisis to more stability. 

Since 2019 they have helped over 600 young people, but they are at a crossroads. The truth is they can’t meet the demand they are now facing. More and more young people are getting in touch asking for help with over 200 young people on their waiting list, many of them who can’t get the support they need through the NHS given the pressures there. 

It’s an emergency for sure but it is an emergency we can help address and help tackle together. If Nai’s House can grow and expand its services it can offer help to the 200 plus people on the waiting lists. 

Your support could make a massive difference and offer a genuine lifeline. Just £20 could help give a young person in need a fighting chance. It costs £800 a year to help one young person with professional therapy to. £520 over 13 weeks to train a volunteer. But the reality is that every penny counts. 

Nai’s House didn’t exist when Nai needed it.  Please help us make sure it can be there for other young people who do now so, together, we can help prevent this tragic loss of young life. 

Please watch this video to see how you can help….

Don’t be afraid to cry

Round & About

Mental Health

Columnist Robbie James says: ” I have an inability to cry but that doesn’t stop me from feeling sad”

I cannot cry to save my life. Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t cried for a good few years. Then one evening after a couple of wines I heard Sunshine on Leith by The Proclaimers (one of the greatest love songs of all time) and I sobbed for the next 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t crying for any particular reason, my body just fancied a change, and I’m relieved because I missed the feeling you get after you cry – it’s so cathartic and calming. Almost like it’s a natural thing to do, who knew!?

We love to be sorry for crying don’t we. How often do we hear ‘’I’m so sorry I don’t know why I’m crying at such a silly little thing’’. It actually bothers me that I don’t cry more. Sometimes my family or pals think I don’t care as much as them about things. Of course I do, I absolutely do, I just cannot squeeze tears out of my eyes no matter how many times my beloved Scotland get knocked out of the Rugby World Cup.

I substitute crying for running until I can’t run anymore. If I’m feeling good that day, I’ll listen to music that encourages those feelings. But if I’m feeling a bit sad, I’ll absolutely run to Adele. I go and see a therapist every month regardless of how I’m feeling, but I’m there for the same reason every time I go. To learn about my brain (and by the way, it’s a task we’ll never actually fully complete, that’s important to remember).

It’s great to see so many people advocating looking after our brains on Instagram, and the intention is a good one. But we love to encourage each other to try and feel better instantly. It’s a natural instinct to avoid feeling sad, but to my completely untrained brain it doesn’t feel particularly healthy. 

We see people saying ‘’I haven’t been feeling great recently but I’m through it by doing this and that, and if you do these things you will be too. Come on. Do them. Hurry up. Feel better, do it now. SADNESS IS BAD’’. Surely this invasion tactic ultimately teaches us nothing. There will always be periods of sadness or low mood, and if we don’t bother to try and understand them when it’s happening, we’ll be in no better place to cope with it when it comes back around again. 

At the same time, when things are going well and we’re feeling good – we never really stop and think – ‘’why is it that things are good? What’s making me feel this way about stuff?’’. If we understand and notice the triggers then maybe that might come in handy one day when we’re feeling awful about everything. To use the classic ‘’treat your mental health like your physical health’’ analogy – most of us hygienic lot don’t only go to the dentist when we’ve lost a molar, we go every six months to check all is ok – if it is, great, at least we’ve checked up.

So in short, let’s embrace every feeling, we don’t have to run away from sadness. If you take time to understand rather than fight your brain, you’ll probably be in a better place in the long run. Oh, and if you cry at anything and everything, keep doing it. I’m jealous.

Budgie Smuggler Run for mental health

Round & About

Mental Health

Well done to the 20 brave men who have bared (almost) all for an outdoor winter fundraiser in Virginia Water raising more than £2,500 (so far) for the Mental Health Foundation.

We’ve all been feeling the cold in recent weeks. So praise is due to the local runners who braved the chilly trails of Virginia Water Lake togged up in just a pair of running shoes and “budgie smuggler” briefs.

The Budgie Smuggler Run 2023 event was founded by Brian Turner, Josh Lappin, Paul Dash and Jordan McDowell from Hampshire and Surrey in 2021 when they wanted to raise money and awareness for charity.

Since then, others have joined in the January spectacle, with 20 runners taking on the 7km route last Sunday (29th January) raising more than £2,500 for the Mental Health Foundation.

Brian said: “It started off as a bit of a laugh, but with a serious aim to raise money and awareness for charities that are close to our hearts. It certainly does turn heads, and after the first run I was surprised to find more people than just me willing to strip down and run the 7km route in the middle of winter.”

The Budgie Smuggler Run is now set to become an annual mass participation event in aid of raising money and awareness for men’s mental health.

World record holder Darren Hardy, a charity fundraiser and former British Army officer who was medically discharged from the army with PTSD in 2017, joined this year’s event. “It’s such a great event and certainly turned heads,” he said. “Despite the frosty January start we all rose to the occasion and drew quite a crowd at the finish line. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone wanting to do something a bit different for charity.”

“It certainly does turn heads”

Over the last two years, runners have raised £2.5k for BulliesOut, an anti-bullying charity, and £1.3k for Cancer Research UK.

To find out more and donate please visit 7k Budgie Smuggler Run 2023 (gofundme.com).

What is solution-focused hypnotherapy

Ellie Cox

Mental Health

Woodley-based hypnotherapist Sophie Price explains how this approach can help a frazzled mind

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a relatively modern approach, combining various forms of talking and brief therapies. With similarities to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), solution focused brief therapy (SFBT) and other humanistic approaches, solution focused hypnotherapy combines the very best practice of other talking therapies with the added benefit of hypnosis.

The primary focus of this style of therapy is the importance of staying in the present. When we go over our problems in our mind, we’re reliving them and, because our brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, we find ourselves right back there – in the problem. When we allow ourselves to focus on how we want things to be, instead of how we don’t want them to be, we’re giving our brain positive images which allows it to believe that we can achieve those things.

When we suffer with anxiety, depression, OCD, and other related issues, were spending too much time in the fight/flight part of our brain. This part of our brain is there for our survival and, while we absolutely need to have access to this mind, we don’t need to use it every day. When we just want to get to work without feeling angry in a traffic jam; or we just want to get a good night’s sleep without worrying about tomorrow’s meeting/appointment; or we just want to enjoy time with our children without feeling worried about the finances, we can sometimes find ourselves thinking of all the worst-case scenarios and therefore missing out on the present. The more anxious we are, the more we are encouraged to be anxious.

“The more anxious we are, the more we are encouraged to be anxious”

This is how hypnotherapy can help. It helps to create new neuropathways in the mind which can break old habits and help us to move forward with a new, positive attitude towards life.

The Importance of Sleep

One of the first things people recognise when they seek my help is that their sleep is affected by the issue they’re suffering with. Sleep deprivation will increase our anxiety and stress levels. It has been said that just a few minor reductions in your sleep pattern for just a week, can disrupt your blood sugar levels enough to classify you as a pre-diabetic. There are many, many health complications which can be brought on or worsened by a lack of sleep and we often find that when our mental health is suffering, we can’t get enough sleep.

The recommended 7-9 hours per night is something that we should all strive for – for the sake of our physical and mental health.

Hypnotherapy helps to regulate sleep and once your stress levels come down, your sleep will improve.

Please do get in touch to find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you.

Shooting stars in wildlife photo competition

Round & About

Mental Health

Well done to all the wildlife lovers who took part in the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) competition who snapped some beautiful sights at local nature reserves and green spaces and showed how nature can help our mental health

Winning entries include this stunning shot of a buzzard in flight, this pin-sharp picture of a tiny shield bug emerging from a garden flower and a portrait of a pensive kingfisher.

The winner of this year’s children’s category was eight-year-old Roly Lewis from Oxford. The North Hinksey Primary School pupil took his fantastic photo of a shield bug, poking its head out of a flower in his own front garden.

Roly said: “I wanted to enter the competition, so I took lots of wildlife pictures all spring and summer. I thought this photo was my best one because the blossom was a nice background, and the shield bug had an amazing colour and pattern. This made me look closely at shield bugs which are really amazing. My mum told me I had won when I came out of school, and I was so excited I jumped up and down. I really wanted to win but I thought there would be so many good photos that I wouldn’t.”

Children Winner – Roly Lewis (8) (Sheildbug)
Children Runner Up – Hayden Denham (7) (Hummingbird Hawkmoth)

The Wildlife Trust restarted its popular photo competition this summer after a three-year break because of the pandemic. The charity, which manages more than 80 nature reserves across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, challenged everyone aged six and over to take fantastic photos of plants, animals and fungi at its sites, or to capture action for wildlife in their local area.

Roy McDonald took first place with his crystal-clear shot of a buzzard in mid-air at the Trust’s College Lake reserve near Tring. The 45-year-old former courier driver from Berkhamstead revealed after winning the contest that he has struggled with his mental health for some years, and that wildlife photography had helped. He said: “Nature helps me so much, it’s honest and calming and it doesn’t judge you, and just sometimes, if you are calm and patient, it will allow you to get up close into their world. I always take great pleasure when a creature trusts you enough to not scurry or fly away. But you don’t have to take photos: just being in nature and observing it can give you something to focus on.

“I had my encounter with a majestic buzzard on a cold and beautiful winter day. I had seconds to react once I spotted it, and just as my focus locked on, it spotted me and flew directly across my path. So close to me. I chose the first image of the sequence because it had the most amount of action and sense of place. It is by far and away the best shot of a buzzard I have ever managed. They have eluded me for years. I’m quite stunned and delighted to have won.”

Flora and fauna Winner (and overall winner) – Ray McDonald (buzzard in flight) taken at College Lake
Flora and fauna Runner Up – Adrianna Bielobradek (Poppy seedhead) taken at Buckleberry Common)

As overall winner, Mr McDonald won a top-of-the-range Panasonic Lumix digital camera and a wildlife photography masterclass. As well as receiving a printed canvas of his picture and having it appear in BBOWT’s 2023 calendar.

This year’s contest had six new categories: flora and fauna; nature reserve landscapes; people in nature; children’s category (ages 6-12), teenagers (ages 13-19) and Team Wilder, for shots of action for nature in the community. Helen Touchard-Paxton, a mum who lives Buckinghamshire, won the Team Wilder category with a snap of a frog in a garden pond that she and her family dug during the coronavirus lockdown.

She said: “I believe this photo shows that you don’t need acres of land to create a successful wildlife area: if you are interested – no matter how small your space – just have a go and see what works. I don’t have high-end expensive equipment, and I have no idea how to use photo editing software – the photo is very much ‘as taken’. I was absolutely amazed to have won the Team Wilder category.”

Team Wilder Winner – Helen Touchard-Paxton (frog)
Team Wilder Runner Up – Peter Massam (bug hotel)

The Trust received hundreds of entries, creating an extremely difficult job for this year’s judges. BBOWT communications officer Kate Titford, Trust magazine editor Ben Vanheems and professional photographer Steve Gozdz, who runs local nature safaris in Berkshire through his business GG Wildlife Experiences.

Teenagers Winner – Zachary Osbourne (14) Kingfisher
Teenagers Runner Up – Lucy Colston (17) (marbled white on scabious)

Mr Vanheems said: “It’s been a really laborious process with lots of debate going on because we want to get it right, but the competition entrants haven’t exactly made it easy for us.”

People in Nature Winner – Petra Mohr (girl on decking) taken at Weston Turville Reservior
People in Nature Runner Up – Lorraine Clarke (man in hide) taken at College Lake

Mr Gozdz added: “What I was looking for was composition, good use of light – an action shot would have been fantastic. What we’ve found is something quite stunning. A real in-the-moment shot with perfect angles and perfect light, and actually something I would have been very happy to have taken myself. In fact, when I first saw it I was quite jealous.”

Landscape Winner – Charlotte Day (sunrise landscape) taken at Cholsey Marsh
Landscape Runner Up – John Kearns (Warburg trees) taken at Warburg
The trust is grateful to GG Wildlife Experiences, Panasonic and Chroma for sponsoring this year’s competition.

Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition at Tate Modern

Liz Nicholls

Mental Health

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms show at Tate Modern has been extended until April. Liz Nicholls steps inside

Who doesn’t want to be fired up with The Brilliance Of Life?

I’ve followed many an avenue in quest of this. And Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms at the Tate Modern have been lighting up various social media feeds in my orbit all summer.

The installations (originally made for Kusama’s 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern) have proved so popular with visitors that the run has been extended until next spring.

A trip to Tate Modern, and the buzzing South Bank, is always a delight, and this celebration of the stellar Japanese artist, now aged 93, provides a trippy treat for the senses.

Kusama, who has been affected by hallucinations for much of her life, makes art that tries to show things “only the mind can see”, and it’s a fabulous way to highlight awareness of mental health.

A trippy treat for the senses

Seen from the outside, the space occupied by the two installations is tiny, which tickles your sense of time and space. Houses in a hexagonal unit the size of a parking space, stepping inside Chandelier of Grief is a discombobulating experience, fizzing and popping a boundless universe of rotating crystal chandeliers that threaten to smash and splinter.

Meanwhile, the watery walkway through the boxed Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life seems to offer a sense of limitless serenity. Each visit is two minutes (time enough to grab that obligatory selfie) and I recommend making a return trip in and through, for a different experience, on another level (ie sitting down, or taking a different angle).

Small yet perfectly formed on the outside, the light fantastic space offers a rare chance to step inside the mind of one of the world’s most iconic living contemporary artists. This has been one of the hottest tickets in town this summer, and doesn’t disappoint, offering an all-encompassing sense of wonder and freedom.

Find out more

For furthe details, see The Tate’s website www.tate.org.uk

It’s come home – at last!

Round & About

Mental Health

Now it’s over to you… be inspired by our Lionesses and get involved in football where you are, whatever your age and ability

Football has come home, it’s taken 56 years to win a major honour but it was well worth waiting for as England women’s captain Leah Williamson lifted the Womens Euros 2022 trophy at Wembley on Sunday.

The amazing achievement of beating eight-times winners Germany 2-1 was immense and while many backed the Lionesses as the favourites for the tournament on home soil, the result is truly outstanding and the women deserve all the plaudits and honours that will come their way.

One of the key aims for The FA and the England Women has been ensuring that this fabulous celebration of football creates a legacy for future generations and encourages as many women and girls as possible to get involved in the beautiful game.

Whatever your age and ability, football is for all and offers a huge opportunity for women and girls to engage in a healthy lifestyle through football, promoting both physical activity and mental health benefits too.

Follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Whether you just want to have a kick about with your mates, have a go at walking football or want to join a local club and perhaps follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Surrey FA are passionate about supporting clubs to provide equal access for women and girls in football and want to ensure that all women and girls have access to football as players, coaches, referees, and volunteers.

They have an ambition to provide over 5,000 women and girls access to playing opportunities across the county, as well as raising the profile of the amazing opportunities available off the field.

Newly founded in 2021, the Surrey FA Women’s League, is a Tier 7 league on the National Women’s Football Pyramid which accommodates the growing demand for competitive women’s football in Surrey and provides weekly competitive fixtures to women 16+.
The county also has one of the largest girls leagues, with almost 400 teams competing every Sunday from U7s to U18s

As the growth of recreational football continues, as does the demand for competitive fixtures in a recreational, flexible environment. Formed in 2018, the Surrey FA Women’s Flexi-League offers monthly fixtures from October through to June, including various mid season tournaments.

The aim of the league is to provide a wider football offer, enabling more women to be involved in the game regardless of restrictions.

Find out more about all Surrey FA has to offer at www.surreyfa.com/players/women-and-girls

Get involved!

As several players and commentators said after the epic win, this has to be the start of something even more special.

It’s come home – at last!

Round & About

Mental Health

Now it’s over to you… be inspired by our Lionesses and get involved in football where you are, whatever your age and ability

Football has come home, it’s taken 56 years to win a major honour but it was well worth waiting for as England women’s captain Leah Williamson lifted the Womens Euros 2022 trophy at Wembley on Sunday.

The amazing achievement of beating eight-times winners Germany 2-1 was immense and while many backed the Lionesses as the favourites for the tournament on home soil, the result is truly outstanding and the women deserve all the plaudits and honours that will come their way.

One of the key aims for The FA and the England Women has been ensuring that this fabulous celebration of football creates a legacy for future generations and encourages as many women and girls as possible to get involved in the beautiful game.

Whatever your age and ability, football is for all and offers a huge opportunity for women and girls to engage in a healthy lifestyle through football, promoting both physical activity and mental health benefits too.

Follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Whether you just want to have a kick about with your mates, have a go at walking football or want to join a local club and perhaps follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Oxfordshire FA has a number of initiatives for girls and women to play their part in the “beautiful game” and is currently looking at relaunching the Women’s Small Sided Leagues such as 5-a-side – the ideal introduction to get into the game or get back into it.

Walking football offers a slower version of the game and enables women to play football under the same rules, enjoying the same great game just at a slower pace. Try Oxford United Walking Football Club at The Oxford Academy on Sunday afternoons.

Oxfordshire FA are also taking part in #LetGirlsPlay to celebrate the UEFA Women’s Euros 2022 and give women and girls’ the opportunity to get involved with football in their local community – any age, any ability.

Get involved!

As several players and commentators said after the epic win, this has to be the start of something even more special.

It’s come home – at last!

Round & About

Mental Health

Now it’s over to you… be inspired by our Lionesses and get involved in football where you are, whatever your age and ability

Football has come home, it’s taken 56 years to win a major honour but it was well worth waiting for as England women’s captain Leah Williamson lifted the Womens Euros 2022 trophy at Wembley on Sunday.

The amazing achievement of beating eight-times winners Germany 2-1 was immense and while many backed the Lionesses as the favourites for the tournament on home soil, the result is truly outstanding and the women deserve all the plaudits and honours that will come their way.

One of the key aims for The FA and the England Women has been ensuring that this fabulous celebration of football creates a legacy for future generations and encourages as many women and girls as possible to get involved in the beautiful game.

Whatever your age and ability, football is for all and offers a huge opportunity for women and girls to engage in a healthy lifestyle through football, promoting both physical activity and mental health benefits too.

Follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Whether you just want to have a kick about with your mates, have a go at walking football or want to join a local club and perhaps follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Hampshire FA is using the positive power of football to help all women and girls get involved in ‘the beautiful game’ through Find Your Feet and its specialist programmes.

Find Your Feet allows women aged 18+ to take part, whether it’s an introduction to football or you’re returning to the pitch. Learn basic skills and play casual football in a fun, friendly and relaxing way. Find out more about this and how you can join in at www.hampshirefa.com/players/women/find-your-feet

The organisation is also helping to support female communities through two specialist programmes include offering refugee / asylum seeking women the opportunity to play recreational football and working with the charity Aurora New Dawn which supports those who have experienced domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.

Get involved!

As several players and commentators said after the epic win, this has to be the start of something even more special.

It’s come home – at last!

Round & About

Mental Health

Now it’s over to you… be inspired by our Lionesses and get involved in football where you are, whatever your age and ability

Football has come home, it’s taken 56 years to win a major honour but it was well worth waiting for as England women’s captain Leah Williamson lifted the Womens Euros 2022 trophy at Wembley on Sunday.

The amazing achievement of beating eight-times winners Germany 2-1 was immense and while many backed the Lionesses as the favourites for the tournament on home soil, the result is truly outstanding and the women deserve all the plaudits and honours that will come their way.

One of the key aims for The FA and the England Women has been ensuring that this fabulous celebration of football creates a legacy for future generations and encourages as many women and girls as possible to get involved in the beautiful game.

Whatever your age and ability, football is for all and offers a huge opportunity for women and girls to engage in a healthy lifestyle through football, promoting both physical activity and mental health benefits too.

Follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Whether you just want to have a kick about with your mates, have a go at walking football or want to join a local club and perhaps follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

There’s never been a better time to get involved in football and with the FA’s Gameplan for Growth aiming to double participation, Berks & Bucks FA has a number of initiatives for you to join in.

Girls aged 5-11 can become a Weetabix Wildcat, non-competitive football for girls who want to give it a go for the very first time or want to play with other girls their own age. Most importantly, Weetabix Wildcats is all about having loads of fun and meeting new friends. Join a youth club or leagues across the counties and further your skills or just enjoy the physical and social benefits for fun.

And it’s not just for girls, there’s a wealth of options for women at club and recreational level too. More at www.berks-bucksfa.com/players/women

Get involved!

As several players and commentators said after the epic win, this has to be the start of something even more special.