Today on World Music Day, Barnardo’s, the UK’s largest children’s char­ity, has teamed up with sev­er­al lead­ing UK rap­pers and poets to raise aware­ness of its Boloh helpline — a Cov­id-19 helpline ser­vice spe­cific­ally for Black, Asi­an and eth­nic minor­ity young people and their fam­il­ies. The artists will mark the day by reflect­ing on the past year and share their exper­i­ences of the pan­dem­ic, on what has been a tur­bu­lent 15 months since the first nation­al lockdown.

As part of the cam­paign, artists will share a piece of spoken word or rap on their social media plat­forms about their per­son­al men­tal health exper­i­ences dur­ing the Coronavir­us pan­dem­ic, to encour­age their fol­low­ers to seek help if they need it.

Rap­pers par­ti­cip­at­ing include the 2021 Voice con­test­ant Jason Hayles, Sheffield’s Poet Laur­eate Otis Mensah, the acclaimed UK rap­pers Ric Flo and Lemzi, word­smith True­Mend­ous, spoken word artist Ter­rell Lewis and the renowned South Asi­an rap­pers Premz and Hyphen.

Over the past year, young people have borne the brunt of the pan­dem­ic, as they have nav­ig­ated a roller coast­er of exper­i­ences and emo­tions, includ­ing lock­down, isol­a­tion, grief, domest­ic abuse, fin­an­cial dif­fi­culties, addic­tion or every­day stress which may have impacted their men­tal health. People from Black, Asi­an and eth­nic minor­ity com­munit­ies have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately affected by the pan­dem­ic, with black people four times more likely to die of the vir­us com­pared to their white coun­ter­parts, and eco­nom­ic factors worsen­ing exist­ing inequalities.

One of the ways young people have been able to express and cope with what they have been exper­i­en­cing is through music, poetry and spoken word, and using it as a form of con­nect­ing with, or escap­ing from, real-life situations.

Leeth­en Bartho­lomew, Head of the Boloh helpline at Barnardo’s, said:

“Music, rap and poetry are all tools which chil­dren and young people some­times use to express and man­age their grief and trauma.

“At Barnardo’s we hope that through the sup­port of these inspir­a­tion­al artists, more young people will be empowered to talk openly about their men­tal well-being, and reach out for help when they need it.

“The Boloh helpline was cre­ated because of the prob­lems faced by chil­dren, young people and their fam­il­ies who have been affected by the pan­dem­ic and lock­downs. As we look ahead, we want to ensure young people from all com­munit­ies have the right sup­port avail­able to help them cope with their men­tal health.”

Barnardo’s ‘Boloh’ helpline is a bespoke ser­vice sup­port­ing Black and Asi­an minor­ity chil­dren, young people and their fam­il­ies, and one of a range of inclus­ive ser­vices offered by Barnardo’s. The helpline is avail­able for young people to access if they are strug­gling because of the Coronavir­us pan­dem­ic. The ser­vice provides thera­peut­ic sup­port, a live web chat facil­ity, and a life­line to com­munit­ies deal­ing with issues such as isol­a­tion, stress, uncer­tainty about the future, sick­ness and bereave­ment, rising hate crime and loss of sup­port ser­vices, on top of exist­ing inequal­it­ies such as poverty, over­crowded hous­ing and phys­ic­al and men­tal health problems.

For more inform­a­tion on Boloh vis­it

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Mark Mukasa

Mark is a South Lon­don based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He’s also an MMA and his­tory enthu­si­ast who tries to keep his love of animé under wraps.

About Mark Mukasa

Mark is a South London based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He's also an MMA and history enthusiast who tries to keep his love of anime under wraps.