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10 Tips For Maintaining Your Emotional Well-being

April 1st, 2019

Did you know that April is National Stress Awareness Month? This awareness month has been running since 1992 but according to the Stress Management Society, we still have a long way to go in raising awareness of the causes and cures of our current stress epidemic. The Mental Health Foundation claims that 74% of adults have felt overwhelmed with stress at some point in the past year (quoted from The Stress Management Society website). We know that stress affects both young and old and many of our service users will experience stress in their lives for a variety of reasons.

Taking care of our physical, emotional and mental health all contributes to helping us manage stress effectively. In this post the focus is on steps we can take to maintain our emotional health. Oftentimes, our approach is reactive once we’re overwhelmed but being proactive and including self-care in our daily routines helps us to avoid the negative effects of chronic stress.

Some asphaleia staff and volunteers have put forward their tried and tested methods for maintaining their emotional health, perhaps you may be inspired to adopt some of them yourself!

  1. Write down 5 things you want to believe about yourself and read it out loud several times a day.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Don’t think about work when you are not at work! Shut off at the end of the day. Do activities after work; see friends, read, watch a series, go to the gym/cinema – work will be there again tomorrow.
  4. For my emotional well-being I smile, which in turn makes people smile back, which brightens my day.  Also a good laugh is a great emotional spirit lifter.
  5. My main source of well-being is distracting myself with something creative every evening for at least 20 minutes. For me this is drawing, writing or playing the guitar.
  6. I cycle to and from work. Starting and ending my day with exercise really helps!
  7. Talk through your feelings with a friend, it always helps when you say your problems out loud.
  8. I write a thought list before I go to sleep to ensure I clear my mind and write down anything that comes into my thoughts so my brain can relax as it knows it’s been written down and will be read when I wake up.
  9. Practice deep breathing. It’s a simple technique to relax your body. It is easy to be completely unaware that you’re shallow breathing when you’re stressed, which can lead to feeling dizzy, a racing heart – the kind of physical feelings that make you more stressed!
  10. Connect with people in person. Social media can make you feel like you’re connecting with people all the time but it’s not the same as meeting up with someone face to face.

Follow us on instagram @asphaleiainsta to hear some more tips on reducing stress this month from staff and young people!


An asphaleia Student Shares Her Inspiring Story

March 26th, 2019

Most of the young asylum seekers have different stories to tell but there are some things that make us similar too. Now that we are in the UK we almost go through the same path. For instance, sharing houses, having a social worker and attending asphaleia. Although not all young asylum seekers go to asphaleia but we all get to go to school at some point.

My experience at asphaleia is great. It is my first experience of education in the UK. Though I live with many young people in my accommodation, I still get to meet with new people, new friends and of course the teachers. asphaleia is a little different than my old school back in my country. Over here, we have smaller class with smaller number of learners. Although it is different than what I am used to, I still like it and appreciate it as it is because the teachers get to understand what you want, who you want to be and as an individual. The teachers are understanding and patient.

When I grow up, I want to be an architect because I like to design buildings and be creative. I have completed my Level 2 in English and in the process of doing my Level 1 Maths. I plan to complete my Level 2 in Maths here and after that I am going to go to college. I would like to finish my A Levels in college and go on to university. Hopefully I will achieve my dream to become an architect.

Thumbs up with a smiley face on with well done

Apart from Maths and English, we have Life and Living classes at asphaleia. This subject is basically about what is good and what is bad for us in life.  As we come here alone and we don’t really have much experience in life, we need people to help us and advice us what to do. For instance, we learn about healthy living where we learn what kind of food is recommended for us to eat in order to be healthy. We also learn how to respect people and some of the norms of the English society which are sometimes little different from ours. I personally think that this subject is really helpful because I got to learn and be reminded of the things I should do and not do.

As I mentioned above, I want to be an architect and I’m trying to work on that. It is really hard being separated from your family, relatives and friends. However, we have support workers who checks on us and shows us how to do things that we don’t know. For me everything is new and different as in the past my family did everything for me. However, here I need to be independent and I am getting used to do things by myself.

It is a difficult journey but nothing comes easy in life. I will continue to work hard to fulfill my dream and be successful in my life. I know I can and I will.

Thank you.


Young Person’s Week

27th February 2019

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CSE Day 2019 – What is Exploitation and Does it Only Affect Children?

March 18th, 2019

Today is National CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day). The five key themes for this year’s day are:

1. Exploitation is about more than just CSE, think about criminal exploitation, county lines,
trafficking and modern slavery.
2. Families can be safeguarding partners.
3. The time to build relationships with children and families is crucial.
4. Exploitation and its impact doesn’t stop because you turn 18.
5. Communities can tackle exploitation.

All five are key for us to grasp as parents, friends, professionals, and community members so we can all play our part to stop CSE. Over to one of our SAFE project workers to explain themes 1 and 4…

Exploitation is about more than just CSE

Exploitation means an imbalance of power used to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person into sexual or criminal activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants e.g. gifts or belonging.

When we think of exploitation our mind wanders to child sexual exploitation or ‘CSE’. Whilst this is still important to recognise, we must realise that exploitation is more than just CSE. We must consider criminal exploitation (county lines) in which young people are exploited to sell drugs, human trafficking and modern slavery. Look beneath the signs that the child is displaying

Exploitation doesn’t take place in isolation, sometimes a young person is forced into sexual activity over a drug debt or people could be trafficked around the UK, and beyond, for modern day slavery.

We need to ensure that we are approachable and consistent for the young people we work with – they will not want to talk to you if they don’t think you will be there for them. Offer a confidential and private space and believe everything they tell you.

CSE Awareness Day

Exploitation and its impact doesn’t stop because you turn 18

Whilst we refer to ‘child’ sexual exploitation throughout this blog post we recognise that exploitation does not stop when adulthood is reached at 18, in fact quite the opposite.

Reports have shown that reaching 18 can make a person more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, often services will withdraw and there is less help and support out there. For many people it is a frustrating time as they may have had extensive and intensive support throughout childhood only to find out that this will not continue beyond their 18th birthday. We refer to this as the cliff edge of support – one day it’s there and the next it’s all gone.

It is vitally important to improve transition services and to offer the young people we work with alternative forms of support. That’s why, on Safe, we work with young people up to the age of 25. We know that vulnerabilities don’t fix themselves over night.

To find out more information about your local Safe project please call 01903 522966.

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Pancake Day in an ESOL Lesson

March 5th, 2019

Pancake Day is a term used in the United Kingdom for Shrove Tuesday. This is the Tuesday before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It is a day of penitence to clean the soul and the last chance to feast before Lent begins.

This year, we at asphaleia training in West London did lots of learning about Shrove Tuesday. During our lesson, we shared about the Christian traditions. Including the 40 days before Easter known as Lent, which mark the time that Jesus spent fasting in the desert.

Pancake Day ESOL learning

Our learners, who come from different parts of the world learned that traditionally, Christians would mark the period with prayers and fasting, abstaining from a whole range of foods, including meat, eggs, fish, fats and milk. They learned that Shrove Tuesday is also known as “Pancake Day” or “Pancake Tuesday”, as it became a traditional custom to eat pancakes as a meal. We also discussed how some other countries celebrate the day too.  For instance, in France, it is called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. In Sweden, it is called Fettisdagen and interestingly, in Spain, it’s actually ‘Omelette Day’ or ‘Día de la Tortilla’ where they eat omelettes! We discussed if there are pancakes eaten around the world and if they were similar or different. It was revealed that anjero is a type of pancake in Somalia, dosa in India, okonomiyaki in Japan, pannukakku in Finland, crepes in France and of course pancakes in the United Kingdom.

We also took the opportunity to learn how to make pancakes by watching a video on Youtube. The learners’ comprehension was later tested with a Q&A session. At the end of the lesson, all of our young people celebrated Pancake Day by savouring delicious pancakes with a topping of their choice. The options were maple syrup, Nutella or a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of castor sugar. They all enjoyed it very much!

Pancake Day eating pancakes in ESOL lesson

Finally we told our learners… “So now that you know how to make pancakes and the history behind Pancake Day, go make yourself a few pancakes as a treat!”

To find out more about our ESOL classes and/or OnTrack programme for 16-18 year-olds, call us on 01903 823546.

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asphaleia Retain Their Investors in People Standard

March 4th, 2019

In January, we welcomed Julie Price to asphaleia to carry out our Investors in People (IIP) assessment. We continually work towards the IIP standard in our practice and therefore valued this opportunity to get feedback on many organisational developments that have been implemented since our last assessment.

Investors in People

As a result of this inspection, we are delighted to have retained our IIP standard and to have received such great feedback:

“Your approach and commitment to high standards of people management has helped to create an environment where staff feel valued, where talent is recognised and developed, and people can thrive. It is an impressive achievement and something to be very proud of.”

The retention of the IIP standard is a testament to all our staff who remain committed to supporting asphaleia’s mission statement; to impact the lives of as many vulnerable children and young people as possible. Retention of the standard is invaluable in affirming all the positive work that takes place daily.

Safe West Sussex

March 4th, 2019

Safe West Sussex is now well into the swing of things after entering its third year in October. Interventionists have worked with over 1,000 young people since January 2017 and we’re not stopping there!

What is Safe West Sussex?

Safe West Sussex is a preventative Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) project. CSE is when a young person is made or tricked into doing something sexual, or having something sexual done to them, receiving something in return such as love, money, gifts, alcohol or acceptance. CSE can occur both in person and online and can affect both females and males. These children are often tricked into believing that they are in a healthy and consensual relationship.

CSE awareness day

CSE national awareness day takes place this month

Who do we work with?

We work with young people aged 10-25 across West Sussex. We work with young people who are at risk of becoming a victim of CSE and those who are at risk of becoming a perpetrator of CSE. We work with young people on topics such as healthy relationships, risk management, online safety, sexting, consent and more. Our sessions aim to reduce risk and vulnerability through education on these key topics. We work on a 1-1 or small group basis in the community and in schools.

We also work with year 6 classes across West Sussex. We do a 1 hour workshop on healthy relationships and talk about what to do if they are ever in an unhealthy relationship.

Not only that….we work with parents too! Just as we know that every child is unique, we know that every family is too and each family requires unique support. We provide non-judgmental, confidential support to help parents recognise and build on the strengths that they have to protect their children and reduce their risk of harm.

Sounds great, how can I refer someone for support?

Contact Ruby on 01903 522966 for further information and for a copy of our referral form.

Halfway Through Young Person’s Week 2019!

February 27th, 2019

It has been an inspiring week so far as staff across the organisation have been sharing the many successes of the young people they are working with.

We are gushing and we know it! That’s what this week is all about. We have been finding out more about our young people via our Instastories. On Monday we did a poll asking about their biggest barrier to learning with a choice of ‘self-confidence’ or ‘self-motivation’. Self-confidence proved to be the bigger issue with 67% of the vote. Follow us on @asphaleiainsta to catch our updates this week. Without further ado, here is another fantastic piece of creative writing as featured in Visable Inc.

Another Door Opens

Why I left: I found it difficult to talk to people and make friends. I don’t feel I was helped enough.

Why I’m back: I am back because I want qualifications, a good job, and to work hard.

I have anxiety I become nervous in social situations. I want to make friends.

I’ve always found school hard and I want to change that by coming asphaleia and become the best I want to be, and I really want to achieve my best and work hard and not give up my goals and ambitions.

I used to feel so isolated and alone in myself and in general at school and I feel like I was not helped enough but asphaleia will help me with my general anxieties.  And, by me coming here will really help me with my issues and hopefully make friends.

I’m going to be attending asphaleia now regularly. And I want to feel brilliant.

I feel like a brilliant person. I’m not weird I just have unique ways of doing things and I am kind and smart and helpful.

I want my door to open wide and I want to achieve my best goals possible. I reckon with asphaleia they can help me enough to achieve my goal as a manager and make friends in a positive environment like asphaleia and I feel confident and comfortable enough coming here every Monday and Tuesday as per my timetable.



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Beautiful Creative Writing From an asphaleia Learner

February 26th, 2019

In January, a group of our learners contributed to the January edition of the Visable Inc online magazine. They wrote pieces on their experience of coming back to education and the reasons why they left. The are compelling and inspiring pieces of creative writing, clearly written from the heart. We’re proud to be sharing them with you this week.

Young People thumbs up with visable Inc magazine

The Anxiety Box

Why I left: Anxiety

Why I’m back: I want to try and get some sort of education. I want help with my anxiety. I think I have that now.

“What’s your excuse?” My body speaks more than my mouth: I stumble, I stand still. All they did was put me at the back of the classroom. I can’t speak. My mind has made its decision – I need to get out. I need to know that the door is open. If I know it is, I’m more likely to stay. But they don’t understand that. Even if I could speak, what would I say? I look it up online – there is a word that I can’t pronounce – is this another box to be trapped in? If I can’t even say it, how can I face it?

I feel trapped.
I need to know that I can get out.
I know I need to calm down – but no one helps me to try.
Breathing  becomes bumpy.
I am panting pathetically.
I am making childish noises from my supposedly adult mouth.
I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave.

There are rules – I can’t leave whilst people are looking at me. Sometimes I feel that people trap me. My transparent box sees the eyes are staring in. I don’t even know how I got into the box, but somehow I keep going back in. I look it up online – there is a word that I can’t pronounce – is this another box to be trapped in? If I can’t even say it, how can I face it?


To see this as part of the Visable Inc January publication, click here


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Safer Internet Day 2019 in Uxbridge

February 26th, 2019

In today’s modern world, keeping up with technology can be both time consuming and complex. With our new generation spending time online more and more these days, it’s vital that we explicitly teach young people how to stay safe whilst being online.

On the 5th February 2019, our young people in Uxbridge (West London) participated in the Safer Internet Day.  Although they were very good with technology, they still lacked the awareness of the danger with the internet, for instance anything about viruses, online privacy, phishing, social networking etiquette and other internet safety and security issues that is considered important.

student work for safer internet day

During the lesson, we discussed what can be shared online and otherwise. The lesson was to remind all learners that it is crucial to remember that everything we do over the web is captured forever and could come back to haunt us some day. For instance, many employers and university admissions offices look at social media profiles when researching candidates.

Also, learners brainstormed ideas on how they connect and the gadgets they use like smart phones, tablets and even old fashioned computers need to be protected as well. They went on talking about the use of sensible passwords and protection and how it can be helpful in the long run.

Some of our young people have played games online before and offered to share their two cents relating to online strangers. They said there are strangers online because they don’t always know who they are talking to and this could end up being detrimental. The discussion continued with the different ways one could connect with strangers online such as online games, Facebook and Instagram. They then watched a video presentation on how to handle strangers online. It was a good presentation as it got the learners to think about questions like, “What sort of information should we not tell a stranger?” We elicited a variety of answers from our young people, ensuring that details like “home address,” “phone number,” “full name” were emphasized.

Overall, it was a fun-filled, informative lesson with learners reflecting the issues that our young generation are facing as well as tackling emerging trends that could leave a lasting impact on online users.

Well done to our learners for engaging brilliantly in this lesson. #asphaleiayoungpersonsweek2019

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10 Reasons I Like asphaleia training

February 26th, 2019

From the  25th February to 3rd of March, asphaleia is holding it’s third Young Person’s Week. During this week we make a big effort to celebrate the many successes and achievements of the young people we are working with. We couldn’t be prouder of every young person who comes through our door looking to make a positive change for their future. So stay tuned for some serious boasting! Ahead of #asphaleiayoungpersonsweek2019 our student ambassador had a chat with a member of staff and came up with ten reasons why she likes asphaleia.

1. The staff are helpful
Nothing feels like a stupid question. They all seem to know what is going on generally even though it is different subjects. You can tell they work with each other and I feel like they care about my education.

2. Nice atmosphere where you can be yourself
Everyone here seems to understand that school wasn’t easy. No one asks questions or acts like you are stupid. People come here to get the grades they need and then they can move on. It is nice to be in a class with people who think the same way as me.

3. Students are very easy to get on with
Everyone’s nice!

4. Tutors challenge us to learn new things
Sometimes it can be annoying when you do things wrong. But when the teacher reminds you that you won’t learn unless you try to do new things, it makes it clear they are doing it to make us better.

5. We have input into our education
We are a part of interviews for new staff and we get asked about what we like and what we don’t like.

6. Work experience
At school I didn’t get any, here, we get to plan things that we actually find interesting and want to go into instead of a standard one everyone goes on.

7. We are responsible for our learning
Teachers always say that if I work hard and attend I can do well and I actually believe them now!

8. The learning helps me feel more prepared for a job
Especially in employability – I feel like I’m more ready to have a job now because I have a CV, have plans, have looked at how to apply and I know what employers like and don’t like.

9. Exams are flexible
You don’t have to wait until a set time to do them if your teacher thinks you are ready.

10. It’s fun!
I actually enjoy learning here!

If you, or someone you know, may be interested in studying at asphaleia, email to find out more.