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 https://helpline.barnardos.org.uk/
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