I got to know about EYST through a family member who previously had a placement there and told me about it. I had seen through some WhatsApp messages that they were taking placements so I decided to apply.
My placement on the BME Invest team is split between 2 projects with EYST. The first one is the Belonging Team, led by Paul Thomas. This project provides a variety of activities targeted at young people aged 11-18. I was assigned the task of building a web page with details of all the different mental health charities and helplines. This is to create something that can help young people, especially those from ethnic minorities who might struggle with their mental health.
The second project I work with is BME Sports Cymru, led by Basit, and what we do is involve people in getting active, particularly focusing on those from underprivileged backgrounds, getting them active in different ways. We’re currently holding football and cycling sessions and this summer we’ve done climbing and worked with the RYA to give sailing taster sessions.
I would say my experience has been good in general. Now, with Covid, obviously everything’s online, we use Zoom and WhatsApp, and it’s tough to figure out how to meet people face to face. The staff work hard to go to events and activities while having to trace and track people, but even under these circumstances, things are going well with EYST. We provided masks and hand sanitizer to those doing the activities, like the football team and we make sure everyone is social distancing where feasible and all equipment is sanitised. It has been really interesting being in a real working environment with a good team; to be honest, my team always makes everything easier, even getting hold of people and having conversations during Covid times and distancing.
I’ve learnt how to present things and how to give feedback as well; those are things I was struggling with before. Also my teamwork skills have improved together with adapting to different situations, where they need me is where I’ll go.
As I said, I’ve always been interested in mental health issues, I think mainly because I want to help people, I think that’s my thing. I think EYST aligns with my values because they also want to help people, they are a very participant-first kind of organisation, which I like. I also like the fact that there’s not just one pathway, there’s a lot of different areas to go into, and lots of different people I can talk to. You also learn many different ways to do things, and you get involved in a lot of teamwork, and as much as I like doing things on my own, it’s cool playing with teams and coming up with ideas. It’s a very helpful environment. EYST has also given me so many opportunities in training, such as safeguarding, mental health champion training, things that have really boosted my CV. So, after this placement, wherever I go, I know I’ll come across as being so much more experienced and trained.
To anyone who’s looking at this and thinking whether they should apply or not, I would say to 100% apply. Everyone is so understanding and friendly and there’s so many things you can get yourself into.