The face-to-face communication decline

What technology is doing to us

Modern medicines, undeniably are redefining what it means to cure the terminally ill.  To put this into perspective – 78% of female breast cancer cases survive for 10 years or over (Cancer Research UK).  Statistics such as this are totally uplifting and are set to surely improve!  Yet it is unsettling to consider how the present unpredictable age of sensational technology is gradually redefining what it means to be human.

The convenience of Skype, Face Time and suchlike could be what is escalating a very current pandemic- loneliness.  The use of technology in lieu of real-life engagement is meeting new extremes.  A New Scientist article has explained a new idea for messages of ‘vibrations’ that mimic the touch of another to the message recipient- a futuristic ideal for sure!  This notion however could be one of many that is spurring on what I like to think of as a ‘face-to-face communication decline.’  Not good news for us humans who are ultimately social creatures.

Research into loneliness found it to be a premature killer, especially for the susceptible younger generation who are growing up with this type of technology. This finding can be supported by the fact that today’s face-to-face conversations between younger peers are for the most part technology based.  Examples of this are: whether you ‘have snapchat,’ if you’ve seen ‘Rihanna’s latest photo on Insta,’ (abbreviation for Instagram,) or your highest score on the latest game.  As a young person, if you cannot relate or keep up with the latest wave of internet sensation, then it is almost impossible for you to partake in conversation.  This is undeniably breeding social isolation.

Loneliness as a risk has been put on par with being a smoker of fifteen cigarettes daily (  Loneliness being damaging is perhaps an abstract, almost surreal concept, yet technological advancement means we no longer feel the need so much for physically meeting others.  Consequentially, we avoid and extricate ourselves from others, and deny ourselves what is ultimately an instinctive urge: social interaction.

Modern miracles performed everyday on the operating table are increasingly relying on technology.  Despite the undisputable improvements modern medical technology is making, I worry that we are losing the consoling comfort given rise to when we trust in a fellow human being.  Robots replacing humans on the more weighted grounds of efficiency and cost-effectiveness I agree has its benefits.  However, my worries are that it comes at the price of losing an integral need of the human condition: communication with others like us.

So is social interaction soon to be unavailable for those who are most vulnerable and in need of it? Is this a topic we should be discussing amongst our peers and in our classrooms? I certainly think so.  What about you?



You are not alone…Postnatal depression and young mothers

Let’s talk about…Postnatal depression and young mothers

Many young women today are having children between the ages of 16 and 24, sometimes even younger. Whilst we are socially aware of the physical insecurities these women experience during pregnancy and after giving birth, the mental effects are spoken about much less. As a young woman myself I think it is important to make people aware of ‘the baby blues’ or Postnatal depression (PND) so that as a society young women can be comfortable talking about it and ultimately seek the relevant treatment.

You’re not the only one...

Baby Blues often develop soon after giving birth and can be triggered by an imbalance in hormones. Baby Blues can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Feeling weepy or tearful for no apparent reason
  • Feeling irritable, tense or anxious
  • Having mild depression
  • Being unable to sleep
  • Constantly worrying about minor problems

Once these symptoms become persistent and long term however, Baby Blues becomes classified as postnatal depression. While the severity of the PND varies mother to mother, at its most acute end it can express itself through self-harm, suicidal thoughts and other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder.

But perhaps you’re thinking that it is unlikely you or those you know will ever suffer from PND. Well that’s not entirely true – PND can affect anyone and teenage mums are more at risk. In the U.K 1 in 10 mothers will suffer from this illness, and under half of these women seek support from authorities or family. When it comes to teenage mothers, they are 3 times as likely to suffer with PND, with 1 in 4 falling victim to this silent condition.

…And imagine the number of women who are not included in the statistics – the mothers who are afraid to seek help due to the stigma, the mothers who don’t have the time to seek help, and the mothers who don’t even know that what they are suffering is actually a mental health illness that can and should be treated.

I feel that this reflects one of the biggest issues regarding Postnatal Depression and Baby blues- that there is a lack of awareness about them. We live in a society where we are socialised to be more fussed about our appearance than our psychological well-being. The media emphasis how celebrities shed their “baby weight” in a short time period, or how amazing it is that they haven’t gained weight during pregnancy. This makes us so aware of the physical implications of having a baby but with very little emphasis or awareness of the possible mental health effects. It’s for this reason that it is so important for us to educate ourselves and other young women, instead of only being consumed and led, by the media.

There is also a role for health and social care organisations to find ways of connecting with young women and raising awareness of PND.  This can be through a focused approach and campaign, working with colleges, universities, and other institutions that have access to young mothers.

The most important message to get out to all mothers, irrespective of age, is that they are not alone, that they can seek help without feeling inadequate and without fear. The first step to beating any illness is asking for help, and it is no different with PND.

** If you’re worried about yourself or someone you know and think they might be suffering from PND, there are lots of sources of help and information out there.  In the first instance, you can always speak to your GP.

  1. The Wandsworth Council Family Information Service has information on local services
  2. NHS Choices have information on the symptoms and treatment options
  3. NetMums has information on local services
  4. Royal College of Psychiatrists also has information on PND and national sources of help and information:

Thanks for reading,


‘The Children are our Future’

‘All the courts or probation schemes on earth can never effectively correct the faults of the child, as long as there remain the faults of those who deal with children in the home, school and community itself.’scales-of-justice-450203_1280

This is a quote by Benjamin Lindsey, a world renowned Judge of the Juvenile Court in Denver. Her statement raises a great point: – government schemes such as youth detention centres, and schemes for restitution that are in place, cannot completely change the behaviour of an offender. From my experience as a panel member on a London Youth Offending Team, I have personally seen the positive outcomes that can come from restitution and person centred community service. But, why do young men offend in the first place?

From my experience there are so many different factors that contribute to young men offending. Peer pressure: we’ve all been there, and we all know what it feels like to want to be a part of the group and to feel accepted by our friends. Negativeburglar-308858_1280e peer groups can contribute to why young men offend. Our teenage years are when we are at our most vulnerable, we are learning who we are, and developing through the exploration. When one is young and inexperienced, it is easy to misjudge a situation and make the wrong decision.

Growing up in East London and coming from a low income family myself, I can empathise with those who have not had the easiest start in life. Speaking to some of the young men from my area that I know have spent time in jail or have criminal records, they say financial gain is one of the biggest reasons why they commit crime. For them, being able to purchase the latest clothes, gadgets or even to help pay the household bills made crime appealing.

At 16 I gained employment through a youth provision called Connexions. This service provided young people between the ages of 13-25 with advice from careers advisors that helped young people create CV’s, complete application forms, and gave young people general advice. This amazing establishment was closed down in 2010, after government cuts were made.

Another award winning government scheme called ‘Let Me Play’ provided sports, education and positive activities, supporting young offenders who had court orders, or were on their final chance before being sent to prison, to attend the scheme. Again, this scheme was also discontinued in the Hackney area in January 2015 due to government cuts. Perhaps ironically, a member of staff and good friend of my said one of the reasons why most of these young men were committing crime, and put on this programme, was because of boredom.  A lot of these young people needed to be engaged in activities that interest them and keep them out of trouble.

The question I continue to ask myself is: – Is there enough being done to stop our young men from offending in the first place? To me it seems like the government schemes that we have in place are doing a fantastic job, however, if we continue to cut down the amount of funding going into these schemes, it seems inevitable that young people will continue to offend, gain criminal records, struggle to gain employment and as a result re-offend.  It’s a vicious cycle.

In saying that, the blame does also fall on the contributing factors of negative social groups, financial gain and theyouth global-102448_1280 young person’s environment. I agree that it is the responsibility of that young man firstly, and their family, but do we not have a duty of care, to the next generation to invest in education and employment schemes so the young men of today have a better chance of being successful? As the late Whitney Houston sang, the children are the future!!

What are your thoughts on this issue? What do you think are the contributing factors to young men offending and what are the possible solutions? #SpeakOut and share your views with Healthwatch Wandsworth Youth.

Thanks for reading,


Dangers of Passive Smoking: Is it okay behind closed doors?

Passive smoking effects thousands of individuals in the UK. It has the ability to cause serious health issues for everyone but it has become particularly concerning when looking at its impact on the health of young children.

Research shows that over 4000 chemicals are released from passive smoke. These chemicals contain a number for toxins which can have serious health impacts on children. The National Health Service (NHS), alongside various campaigns and charities, informs the public of many ways passive smoke can increase likelihood of developing health issues such as asthma and even death through lung disease and increased chance of cot death. Additionally, research suggests that being around adult smokers has a psychological impact on children’s behaviour making those children who’s with parents or family member’s smoke, more likely to become smokers themselves.

Yet with this knowledge and awareness around the topic, some parents still persist in smoking in the presence of their children. This has caused great public debate around whether smoking should be banned in homes where children are living.  This debate has caused a split between the public and I myself is still undecided on the issue. Let me tell you why…

Firstly, I believe that there can be many positive outcomes from banning smoking inside homes. It can perhaps prevent those cot deaths that are caused by passive smoking, even if it is a small proportion of cot deaths that are caused by this action.  It can decrease the amount of children who develop breathing and other illnesses due to second hand smoke. Even if it only improves the health chances of a few hundred children, surely it is worth it as it’s our duty to protect those who are too young to protect themselves?

Secondly, banning smoking in homes, could encourage more adults to quit smoking and therefor have a positive impact on their lifestyle choices. Not only could we potentially see a reduction in the number of serious illness adults smokers suffer from such as bronchitis and lung cancer, but we may also see a decrease in the number of young smokers as they start to see more of their role models give up the habit. smoke-295108_1280

However, I know there is a big downfall to the argument supporting the ban of smoking in homes with children in them.  How can the authorities hope to control what people do in their homes? It is almost impossible to regulate what people do in their personal space.  For example, there are laws that regulate the use of illegal substance in people’s homes, but does this really prevent those individuals that wish you use illegal drugs from using them?

The reality is that such a law will be very difficult to implement. But I strongly believe that the starting point is to educate both children and adults about the seriousness of passive smoking. Going into schools and encouraging debate on the issue, broadcasting radio shows or TV documentaries, and utilising the power of social media will help towards this important task.  We must utilise the tools that have the potential to access a wide range of ages and types of people.

But for now, we leave it in the hands of parents to be conscious of the impact their smoking can have on their kids.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment about what you think on this issue.

Chloe Findlay

Let’s talk about…F.G.M

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been an issue within parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia for centuries. But it is only now that it is really coming to light in the UK.  There are 60,000 girls under 15 at risk of FGM in the UK ( and this makes FGM a huge issue.

So what is F.G.M and why is it an issue?

FGM is a procedure that involves the removing or alteration of the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO). It is carried out for various cultural, religious and social reasons. There are major consequences of FGM on a girls or woman’s physical health including higher possibility of infections, pain during sexual intercourse and complications during child birth. In extreme cases, FGM can lead to death from excess bleeding or infections. There are also implications on mental health caused by the victim’s experience of undergoing FGM which can leave them traumatised.

What can we do about F.G.M?

I knew a little bit about FGM before doing research for Healthwatch Wandsworth during my placement with them, but I didn’t realise the real depth of my ignorance.  It became clear to me that FGM is a problem because it dismisses the human rights of females and is a form of oppression and subordination. When undertaking my research on FGM I discovered that FGM is an ancient ritual that is deeply embedded in some cultures; therefore the root of the issue lays in culture and for the culture to change the mentality of the people must change. This is no easy ask.

Many of the articles I read talk about FGM as an issue that can be tackled by educating females.  However I feel that this issue will never be resolved unless both females and males are involved in its eradication.  One of the reasons FGM takes place in some cultures is to control women’s sexuality and if a girl refuses to undergo FGM she may be viewed as promiscuous and ostracised; she may even struggle to get a husband.  It seems to me that the cultures that carry out FGM brainwash females and males into thinking that FGM is more than acceptable; it is a requirement. Education though, seems to be making some positive progress.  A UN survey found that there is now a decline in both men and women’s support of FGM (BBC News, 2013). But we still have a long way to go.

I also believe that educating people in the UK about FGM will make people feel more comfortable talking about the issue. I have only formed this opinion recently when talking to my friends from University about FGM. I was curious to know how much they knew about it.  Most of them knew the basic nature of what it is but not the impacts of it. Some of them were uncomfortable talking about it and treated the topic like a taboo; they were the ones who knew the least about it. This made me realise that people need to be made more comfortable talking about FGM before any real change can happen.

Making people more aware and comfortable talking about the subject will ensure that people effected by FGM or in danger can feel comfortable seeking help and can be protected.  Victims of FGM in UK will know that they are not alone and that there are support services for both the mental and physical scars left on them by FGM.  The education system and the UK media have a very big and important role to play in this.  Let’s start talking about it and do our bit.

Thanks for reading,

Ayesha M.S.

If you would like more information about this issue and how to get help visit: or 

HWY wants to know…

HWY is all about letting you speak without fear. We know that not all voices are being heard, especially the voice of young people.  We want to hear the good and the bad. We want health and social care services to be shaped by and targeted for your needs.

At HWY we regularly carry out quick polls to help us capture a snap shot of a particular issue facing young people today. Today’s theme is young peoples mental health. Are you 25 and under? We want to ask you the following two questions – please, let us know your thoughts!

The Value and Benefits of Volunteering

volunteer-blue“Volunteering gives you an opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives in your community.” – The Student Room

As a teen I wasn’t always drawn to the idea of volunteering – it isn’t something traditionally “interesting” to young people – until I tried it for myself that is and realised the benefits.  More about the benefits later; keep reading…!

Probably like you I saw volunteering as a waste of time. I mean my time is precious, and no way am I going to give it up, and for free too? You’re having a laugh.  Well never say never as they say because I then got involved in volunteering for the Wandsworth Youth Council – I know, drastic change huh? I was bored sitting at home and (being the forward thinker that I am) I felt that devoting my spare time to something that interested me was far more sensible and rewarding that sitting at home, waiting for something exciting to just happen to me (aka doing nothing).  The Wandsworth Youth Council gives me the opportunity  to take part in events that I otherwise would not be a part of. And I mean actual fun activities – with people my age. Who’d have thought…

Anyway that experience then led to me volunteering with Healthwatch Wandsworth Youth as one of their youth blogger’s, and now I’m hear, completely sold on the idea of volunteering and trying to explain to you why. Hope you’re keeping up.

For myself, volunteering with the Youth Council and now with Healthwatch Wandsworth has been about opportunities that allow me to develop skills that couldn’t possibly be learnt in any another setting, at my age.  What I have also learned is that there are so many opportunities for young people to volunteer in Wandsworth – and I just don’t mean working in a charity shop either!  There are lots of ways to get involved in your local community including tutoring, teaching a sport to others, or helping out with a local community centre. These activities aren’t just fun; they help you to develop skills that you wouldn’t get in the natural setting of school and home.  It gives you diversity and the opportunity to make friends with members of the community that you may not usually meet or associate with. Volunteering really is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and grow as a person.  Did I mention that it looks great on your CV?!

However, I have also learned that the benefits of volunteering are not just for you. Actually, for me, this is one of the most rewarding things about volunteering: how the help and service you provide is thankfully and graciously received by the various people you devote your time to. This could be employers, members of the public, the people you volunteer for, their friends and family too.  This is because our time is priceless and through volunteering, though it does not give any monetary value, it can definitely broaden your perspectives, improve your self-confidence/self-esteem and encourage you to improve your communication abilities.  Volunteering can help you gain experiences that you’ll probably remember for many years.  Trust me, try it for yourself.

As a young person trying to work out our interests, strengths and skills that will help us down the line – allowing us to decide what college or university we want to go to, what we want to study or even just what we want to be when we grow up! – volunteering experiences are one of  the simplest and effective ways to get us started.

So what you waiting for? Still scared? Your first volunteering activity could be as simple as writing a blog like this.  Healthwatch Wandsworth Youth wants more young volunteers to contribute to our Blog so if you have a couple of hours to spare per week and a story or point of view to be shared then get in touch with us today! Email

Thanks for reading, Hazzan


The Existentialist’s Guide to Healthy Living

Howdy!  My name is Iman.  I’m new here at Healthwatch.  So I thought I’d start with everyone’s favourite healthcare topic: healthy living!

Thirty minutes of intense fury on the treadmill followed by an avocado salad for lunch one afternoon, was when the question struck: yes, this is living, but is it healthy?  I didn’t mean healthy in the calorie counting sense, (as sure that salad only totted up to 300 calories) but in the sense of enjoyment.  Alright the gym did pump me up on endorphins, but it wasn’t fun being red-faced, out of breath, and an inch from fainting.  And, all I really wanted for lunch was the carb-tastic toast.  So here’s where the idea of existentialism comes into play.  Existentialism: “…the individual person… a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of will” according to Google when you type in ‘define existentialism’.  Bombarded by the pervasive media and governmental ‘healthy living campaigns’ I feel that we must live a certain way in order for convention to give us its stamp of approval.  When the guidelines of health are forced upon us, all this is really doing is suppressing the ‘individuals’’, (that’s us) ‘act of will;’ as an existentialist I say this is not on.  With the daily salt intake fluctuating from 6 grams to 9 grams (depending on where you source your information,) then you have to get your 5 a day, wait, I mean 7 a day without overloading on sugar.  It is becoming increasingly hard to play along in this balancing act.

With each individual, metabolically different can we finger-cross, close our eyes and follow what we’re told is the best option for us?  I say no (who’s with me?)  The monotony of: which diet is best to follow, whose fitness DVD do I buy, can I get low fat salad?  It seems to me that they all have a common denominator: money!

All too quickly health has become a gimmick, a ploy for companies to rip off the consenting consumer.  Walk into a store and you’ll find five different brands of ‘diet’ cheese, all sugar coated, (pardon the expression) with statistics to prove it is the healthiest, when the ingredients don’t prove it.  At the very least, it’s befuddling and unnecessarily at that.

After that, all I have to say is this: happiness is healthy.  And that’s it really.

This blog was meant as a light-hearted deluge of my feelings, so please don’t indulge in like 50 packets of crisps, because cardiovascular diseases will catch up on you.   What I was trying to get at was, treats on a Friday are blissful, so by all means have them!  And if anything I hope this blog has been, pardon the pun, but to borrow a phrase- food for thought.

This has been my first blog so do tell me what you think, if you think.

Thanks for reading,

Iman B 

What is it that Public Health can do to promote Mental Health Well-being in young people in Wandsworth

According to Steven Walker, the writer for (Social Work and Child and Adolescent Mental Health), states that 10% of children up to the age of 18 will have diagnosable mental health problems. Not a lot of services are offered to young people with mental health disorders and they can sometimes be miss diagnosed as a child playing truant, which may not always be the case. On the wandsworth council website there are 39 records of mental health and well-being services.  A lot of these services seem more based on adult mental health, which is probably why so many young people are less likely to seek out these services.

What can public health in wandsworth do to help solve these issues and prevent the issues from getting worst? Well many things, through encouraging social workers to use the intervention such as family support help, as many young people’s mental health issues may be triggered by family issues which may be difficult for them to deal with. Educating parents and carers on how to recognize the signs when their child may be struggling, this will help parents understand earlier which will give them more chance to seek help earlier and quickly before it get worsts.  Many young people may argue that they do not recognize in themselves a mental illness and many of the services that are offered are not greatly suited to what they feel they need. A lot of young people see themselves as adults and can understand a lot more; speaking to one young person they had told me that when using a service which was meant to help them with their mental health issues the problem became worst as people were speaking to their parents and not directly to them. They had gone on to tell me that it made them feel like a child without their own mind, and that older people did not understand them. By offering a group service with other young people it helps provide them with friends they can relate to who understand their circumstance and encourages group discussion. This can be done in schools, youth clubs or in places where young people can be approached. By educating teachers on how to read the signs it can help them reach young people earlier and also will stop young people going undiagnosed.

Through doing these simple interventions it could really help young people and can give them more chance of successful future.

By Anais

Role models: A figment of our imagination?

Who do we really aspire towards? Role Models, A role model should be someone we aspire towards and even hope to emulate their success regardless what it may be, but what I ask myself is what is aspiration and who do we regard as a role model? With money comes fame and with fame proceeds the inevitable success and power. The sensationalist media highlight those in the famous and popular industries such as: sports, acting and music. The Usain Bolt’s, Nicki Minaj’s and Jay Z’s, could you tell me what makes them role models? Apart from the evident fact that they train exceptionally hard and made huge sacrifices to be successful, even sacrificing morals and their own self respect. Are decent roles models as rare as flying pigs, a silver lining in the clouds?

Firstly role model definitions in my perception seems to have slightly changed and is changing more by the second. It seems to have grown and influenced a society that encourages and promotes seductive role models who flaunt their assets. Sex is everywhere from the media, to every day life. It even shockingly is in the clothes that we wear. Organisations are making clothes that expose more skin from the youngest of ages. The logos “Don’t be a dick”, on jean shorts, “I’m a good girl”. These provocative comments insinuate the wrong messages, but we see those with money, power and fame promoting this without realising the butterfly effect it has. Therefore we try to emulate and strive for tangible rewards whilst forgetting the very morals that were once so revered in the traditional society.

Is a role model to young women someone who flaunts her assets to attract the masses of males and females? Isn’t a role model someone we can look up to and sets an example and preaches modesty, have morals and virtues? Understandably we have to admire their determination to succeed, drive, desire and ambition, but there is always more than meets the eye. In my opinion it seems the rise of women has been influential on the media, as it has allowed and preached more equality whilst presenting a fairer society for the future. In contrast as I have carefully researched and analysed I have noticed that it seems to have become the norm for some sectors of young teenage girls to accessorize themselves with make up, piercings and even cosmetic surgery. The list seems endless. Shouldn’t we select for them to have better role models with value and principles who teach them they don’t have to be covered in make up to be beautiful? Isn’t it deeper than the skin?

Presently the media has had a distinctive effect on the presentation and appearance of role models. We now live in a society that is even more conscious and obsessed with appearance. A large proportion of males now have changed from the stereotyped “heterosexual male”, to now the newer and updated “metro sexual male”. A metro sexual male means a “heterosexual urban man who enjoys shopping, fashion and similar interests associated with women or homosexual men”. Women equally have been greatly affected by this immediate change in our society by how they dress, act and what they see on the various media outlets. Internet, TV, magazines and many more. “Get the London Look”, one of the many adverts that entice young women in the 21st century.

Predominantly on our screens is a generation dangerously obsessed with visual attraction rather than what counts which, is the heart as beauty is not just skin deep. “But I don’t want to be a nun”, “It’s my body I can do what I want”, is an answer from many young girls like they are unaware and naïve to the consequences. It’s quite a defensive answer to why they are wearing such revealing clothes. What happened to a little dignity and self respect? There’s no harm in having fun, but first impressions do count massively? First impressions leave a lasting impression. Besides can we really blame the young women when that’s what is being advertised on our screens? The organisations use those in power to influence and poison the mind of these young girls with falsified ideologies of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century.

As a result of success even in the field of sports in particular athletics Usain Bolt inspires other for change and to aim high. Coming from the so called “Third World countries”, in the Caribbean has burst onto the map thanks to these sporting achievements. There are the selected few sporting stars who genuinely love the sport and they help to contributed to those who are in disadvantaged positions. I conducted my own research and I was amazed by the fact that some of my sporting heroes have actually contribute back to sport. Inspiring legions of sporting stars from the Caribbean such as: Kirani James, 400m champion from Guyana and fellow country man Yohan Blake. Usain Bolt exudes confidence, belief in his own ability which he has used to give back to his country. This shows the humility of the man to provide opportunities for other youngsters to make their sprinting dreams a reality. He hasn’t forgotten about his upbringing and where he was raised. This in my opinion shows humility after his achievements showing his selfless nature to help others achieve their same sprinting dreams.

Also did you know that Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t have any tattoos because he is a blood donor? Did you know that ManchesterCity’s midfielder Yaya Toure has never forgotten his roots in Ivory Coast and he consistently gives PUMA football equipment to the children in West Africa. Even infamous bad boy Craig Bellamy has his own football academy in Sierra Leone which is a non profit organisation. This has dramatically changed and saved lives, allowing those at great disadvantage a way out of poverty, with something that seems as insignificant and small as a hope and a dream. That means more to them than anything else I am sure.

However many people have the impression that sport is a massive money making industry that has lost honesty, integrity and decency as it has become about the love of money. From the massive sponsorship deals to the price tags put on the sporting stars. But we can’t all brush everyone in the industry with the same brush, can we? Sport has paved a way out for many individuals.

Bearing this in mind have we not seen the amazing role models right in front of us or do we forget about them because they aren’t in the public spotlight as much as many of the invalids we currently have. I had the greatest misfortune of stumbling upon the renowned reality show “The Valleys”. It was a shambolic compilation of immature youngsters partaking in ludicrous and awful behaviour. In my own critical review it was a group of individual’s failed attempts at being a celebrity and they degraded themselves in the process unassumingly. I witnessed “three and four way kisses, sexual activities with various different people”, this is on our televisions. I am fully aware that many of the 21st century youngsters regardless of age, race and background desire to emulate this so called “cool” lifestyle. “The Valley” show epitomises some of the males and females of our generation. For the men they have adopted the habit and mindset that it’s manly to sleep around with many girls. On the other hand for the girls it seems the same, but with the addition of partying like there isn’t more to life. However, it is just one of the many shows that have no substance and they aren’t what the young people should aspire to be in the slightest, From “Jersey Shore, Made in Chelsea” and many more.

In spite of this, what do we even define as a role model? In my belief a role model has virtues, morals and ethics. They stand up for the right and proper thing. A role model promotes a positive impact and change for the right reasons. Role models to some of the older generation entail “someone who you can trust, open up to, discuss with and confide in”. The young generation seem to find a role model “somebody we can emphasise with who knows our situation, but has used it to propel themselves further past doubt and disbelief”. The closest role models are usually right next to home like “ mother and father”, because they raised them in a proper manner, fought tirelessly and strived to give them the best upbringing as possible. As we think our parents can be “annoying”, but as time went on the older generation came to the sensible realization that their parents were in fact correct about various things when they were young. “If you don’t listen you will learn the hard way”, “If you don’t listen you will feel”. Two of the most common quotes my own Mum told me. Those words used to resonate in my head.

For this reason have we not seen many real “role models” under looked and brushed aside because they don’t meet the current trends. Those who encourage positive change in the present and help to brighten the future for all of mankind. Individuals such as: Doreen Lawrence, who fought admirably for 18 years for justice as her son Steven Lawrence was a victim of a racist attack. Secondly even Jay-Z who was previously selling shoes on the streets of Brooklyn, living the gangster lifestyle. He grew up without a father. He has accomplished great achievements, nearly a billionaire and as global superpower who has showed dreams can come true.

Personally my biggest role model in the public spotlight is Barack Obama, The 55th President of the United States of America, but he made history by becoming the first ever Black President of the US. I admire what he stands for because his attitude, positivity and seeming less undying commitment and passion for “change”.  His trademark words “Yes we can”, has inspired many blacks not only in America, but all over the world. “Hope is one word which sums him up”. He inspires a generation to believe in better and he has defeated the odds which were highly stacked against him. Colour I want to highlight isn’t important, but it holds a degree of significance as many “blacks” don’t aspire for better because they feel they can’t.  That is further reinforced by the lack of Dad’s who run away from the role of being a father and the responsibility of having a child. Fathers are some of the biggest role models to children. A father is like superman, the strongest person alive apart from Mum.

In conclusion role models are everywhere and there are positive ones we should aim to aspire towards. We just shouldn’t forget our self worth and values. Follow the right models and we in ourselves will see the right roles to undertake. Don’t look at what car a man drives, but what drives a man.

By Shaun Flores