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Bristol MIND and BHN come together to train our members!

Today I met Dawn who works with Bristol MIND, a charity promoting a positive vision of mental health in the Bristol area, and who worked with BHN to develop a brand-new project that our readers should hear about! Dawn is one of the assistant coordinators of Bristol MIND who trained and became a counsellor two years ago. Today, her main job is to train and supervise a team of volunteers working on Bristol MIND helplines after their shifts.

Everything started with an observation: many interpreters and members of BHN find themselves in listening situations and need to manage both their traumas and the ones of other members. Therefore, a project was created in collaboration with Bristol MIND to train a small group of members from BHN to develop their listening skills but also to help them stay safe within their listening role and to communicate their skills to other people.

The training focuses on several skills: active listening, understanding how traumas influence the mind and the body and five ways to well-being: being active, connecting with people, learning, giving and being mindful.

The first session aimed to introduce all the training and to identify who would get the most out of the course and out of 12 people, 7 of our members were chosen to be trained three hours per week for four weeks.

Within these sessions, many topics were covered such as the language of mental health, how the issue was treated in other countries, and how members could use a positive vocabulary of mental health. Sessions also looked at the notions of empathy and acceptance that could help listeners in their roles. Finally, sessions looked at active listening. Members practiced every theory they learned. To do that, an hour of the training was dedicated to listening practice every week. The rest of the session was more theoretical. Learning how to stay safe, how to breathe, how to start and end a session. For instance, Dawn helped our members take a step back within the exercises to avoid reviving personal traumas.

The very last session focused on the ‘five ways to well-being’ to develop the capacity of our members to develop them in their own life and pass them to other people. Indeed, the goal was to develop these skills in other refugees and asylum seekers.

To make the training easily transferable to other members, it was important to do the course with people from very different backgrounds, cultures and languages. Thanks to the wide range of people and cultures, the message could go to many different people. It is also important to note that the training was made to work with real experiences, but also to keep everybody in a safe place when speaking about their experiences.

After this first training, the objective is to create a listening group in BHN that will continue to be supervised by Bristol MIND and to share their experiences with others. Then, the objective is to duplicate the training to other charities and organisations.

If you would like to know more about Bristol MIND and how it can help, do not hesitate to contact the charity: 0117 980 0370 or

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