How was your week? Can you choose a colour that represents how you feel and why? How have you managed anxiety as a black man living in the UK? Can you tell me about your upbringing? In your relationships, was there racial discrimination? Do you think that a black man can reach their full potential here in the UK? Talking about nature helping with anxiety, is this important for young people to understand? How do you feel when you are in nature? Do you prefer sunflowers or roses?



Frederique 0:01
Okay, so how are you? How was your week?

Stephen 0:04
Yes it’s been bit up and down really. With like all of the lockdown happening, you know.

But.. feeling a bit better today, I just went out for a walk.

Frederique 0:22
Hmm… How long did you stay out?

Stephen 0:27
About an hour.

Frederique 0:30
Oh, good.

Stephen 0:33
Yeah, I haven’t been out much this week. So it’s nice to get out a bit.

Frederique 0:38

Stephen 0:41
Even though what the weather is not the best at the moment is, it’s nice, you know, just nice. I like to try and get out, you know, whenever I can usually.

Frederique 0:56
So tell me, please choose a colour that represents the way you feel and tell me why you chose this colour?

Stephen 1:04
Well could be like, sort of green, which is very… and a bit, either blue or green. I don’t know why. I haven’t been feeling the best of sorts really, so positively speaking but you know, sort of switched like a darker colour.

Frederique 1:30
So dark blue?

Stephen 1:33
Yeah. Yes. At the moment

Frederique 1:37
That’s sweet.

Stephen 1:39
It’s like been a quite a hard week but I am trying to try and be more positive so its, sort of dark colour, but I’m trying to be more positive and by, you know, going out for a walk now to try lift my mood a bit.

Frederique 1:56
I’ll tell you what, are you happy to…. So are you happy to talk about how to manage anxiety as a black man living in the UK?

Stephen 2:11
Yes. Okay. Well, I can only talk about what I… type of things I do, really, I like nature and things that I like to try and go out and out in the fresh as often as I can. And, but I’m quite creative as well. So I try to be creative. So I enjoy music as well. That’s another thing that’s really like, sort of lift your spirits. Or like, I do art as well. And the other things I do, to you know, to sort of help me, you know, really, like music is something which I think is good because it can change your moods, like, music can change your mood, it can make you feel sad or happy. You know, so you can use it for that, can be inspirational. I play the guitar. I don’t know, I think it’s like something I find very useful. As I say, for those reasons. Music has always been those things that I’ve always done, like music I’ve been a bit… always been a big music fan as far as I can remember. And I’d be… I played the guitar for a long, long time since… well, since I was a young teenager was when I had my first guitar. So those things have always been with me. This thing with arts really, I’ve always been involved with it obviously been involved in one way or another. Sometimes I try to use those things at the moment now because I think this this time now that we live in is particularly difficult…. mental health and I would encourage anyone to try any of the solution to use things like music and creativity to improve their mental health. I see nature as well. Yeah, like, I love to go to walk down by the river and greenery and grass and fields and things just to feel like the elements as well as nature. I always think about the changing nature of the natural world as well as the way that things are always changing and I find like things like the river and go down to the river. Like very soothing like water is very soothing.

Frederique 4:46
Oh yeah.

Stephen 4:47
Just to hear this… the sound of water is very relaxing. They can rush out of a stream or river flow in.

Frederique 4:54
Me too, I love it. I have a glass of water on my table all the time. But actually I think I put it there because I need to see the water. Yeah. You know, it’s very helpful to me.

Stephen 5:11
Yeah. Yeah. I find nature very helpful as well because animal animals as well. Yeah, when you first notice animals, they are, they’re like, they’re a lot more simple than humans in the way they live the way that they are, I think humans could learn something from them, which really, less complicated lives. I like horses as well. It’s like, horses are such sort of placid and calm animals.

Frederique 5:48
I think they can get a second sense when you are stressed.

Stephen 5:53
Yeah, I just find that very calming in the way that animals you see them, like in fields, they just live a lot more like sort of simple lives. They, you know, eat the grass, and drink the water and human, sometimes humans, the human, complicates things, you know, just to even to see an animal like a horse in a field or something that’s very common, just to see them the way they are.

Frederique 6:21
I had a hamster.

Stephen 6:24

Frederique 6:24
Her name was Mimi and she was so lovely. She was big. Yeah, I remember I used to look at her and just feel… oh, she’s so sweet. I don’t know how to explain, my mind didn’t go further than that. Look at her. You know, look at her poles her tail, her mouth And you know, just to look at them is very nice. I’m actually looking forward to have a cat. Yeah, I need to get Yeah. Yeah. Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself? Where did you grow up?

Stephen 7:09
Well, I grew up in Wales, in in a small town in the South Wales Valleys and so where I grew up was quite, as I say, a small small town. So also quite a lot of sort of greenery around. Like, lots of mountains. Lots of hills and mountains. Yeah. So sort of, yeah. So I grew up there. And I lived there a long time. And it’s mostly like, white places. Well, most of the people there are white. So and there were some challenges there. As in, obviously, if you were not white, and obviously, I suppose you’re going to stand out in that type of environment and…. that did cause some problems. such as when I went to went to school. I did suffer some bullying during that time.

Frederique 8:11
A lot?

Stephen 8:13
Yes, I was quite a lot. Yes. It was quite a complex sort of situation really, because my, my schooling wasn’t very good as well. So I moved from from, you know, to a few different schools. So yeah, I did get like I say, it was like when I was in primary school. They were they were like, there was some bullying there or name calling at least and when I was younger, I found that I, I didn’t mind so much… I was quite extroverted, and I would just get on with things. But it did affect me more when I was older, such as when I was a teenager. Yeah, caused me, like a few problems, withdraw from people when I was older and had some problems with like, social anxiety and things like that when I was a teenager. But it wasn’t all it wasn’t all bad, though. I, I came from a good, good family and we were close, a close family and even though like my family weren’t white, and I ended up with my white family. I did have a good experience with my family though. Especially my grandparents. My grandmother and my grandfather, that was like a very positive experience. They were a good and positive influence on me, I think if no so as I say it was both good and bad experiences.

Frederique 9:37
Yeah, you had the balance so you knew that there were people stupid people, but also good hearted people.

Stephen 9:45
Yeah. So I suppose yes, because with my grandparents, as I say, were always like very accepting of me and my other siblings, even though we weren’t, we weren’t white and they were white. They were always very accepting. You know, there wasn’t any elements of…

Frederique 10:03
aggression or

Stephen 10:04
Yeah, racism or anything.

Frederique 10:07
And what about in terms of relationships when you grew up, you start dating people? Did you feel that there was some kind of racism and discrimination?

Stephen 10:21
Well, it’s, it’s, it depends, like some people, you know, with some people, there might be a, you know, an element of that. But now I live in Cardiff, which is more multiracial. I still have a fondness for my childhood and things because as I say, it wasn’t, they weren’t bad experiences, but they were good experiences as well. In that time, I suppose really, in my life, I suppose I, I probably need to learn more, because I grew up in a very white society. So I probably had more experience of what it’s like to be white really. I in my, as I got older, I have like, the more interesting. My, the the other side of my ancestry, well, and my father’s from Jamaica. So I have had a growing interest in that as I got older, I would like to… he has had many visits. Like sort of some of those areas yeah, at some point in my life, because I think all these things are, as I say, it’s both black and white, you know, in my ancestry

Frederique 11:32
At the time, how did you manage your anxiety?

Stephen 11:35
Well, I suppose when I was a lot younger, when I was a teenager, I didn’t cope very well then I guess we’ve driven from other other people, because I had social anxiety. So I just just withdrew from people for a long time. I used to spend a lot of time on my own probably because of that. I play truant from school. As far as I say, I suppose if you’re bullied, I suppose that’s the natural instinct will be to withdraw. I try to like interact with a variety people, you know, and get a more balanced perspective, I suppose. On this, you know, not everyone is hostile. Yeah. You know, and I think it’s important to get that sort of idea that people… there are so many, you know, different people in the world and so many different experiences. There’s probably just as many, you know, good people as there are bad people. That’s what I’ve tried to do really, probably as I got older is to get more of a balanced perspective, that… which I didn’t have as a teenager, but there were bad people, but there are good people as well. Yeah, that’s what, that’s what I’ve tried to do.

Frederique 12:52
And do you think that a black man can reach his full potential here in the UK?

Stephen 12:58
Things obviously got improved from how they used to be. Even from from this, obviously, from the from the 70s and 80s, things have improved and moved on. I think there’s still some some ways to go, you know, in life, there are still barriers, because there are, you know, yeah, there are things that could still be improved.

Frederique 13:24
What this person would have to do to succeed really, as a black man?

Stephen 13:30
As I say, things are getting better, but I think, I think maybe get the best advice and guidance. I think that could help… organisations to point you in the right direction. So you know, to improve, accept these chances of being able to fill their potential. I know, there are like organisations, like in Cardiff, which help people from ethnic minorities. And I found that useful advice and pointing in the right direction. You know.

Frederique 14:06
You were talking earlier about how nature helps you managing your anxiety, even as a black man, do you think that this is important for young people to understand?

Stephen 14:21
Yes, I think it is really, I think it’s beneficial. I think it could be beneficial to anybody really seems like these days, humans are going further and further away from nature. So, I think it could be beneficial. I can’t say it would be anything other than beneficial really, especially for like, people living in cities, you know, to take some time away from the fast pace of life of the city. And, yeah, I definitely think it’s beneficial. I’m a big advocate of that, you know, I suppose I know, not everyone, not everyone is like you know, in a fortunate position of being able to access that if somebody can even like in, even in a small way.

Frederique 15:07
Buying some plants?

Stephen 15:09
Yeah, or go into like, even if it’s like a small park where they live, you know, to spend some time in, you know, with nature and greenery and animals, you know, even if it’s in a small way, you know, but I’m looking into that myself all the time anyway, always interested in that, and in any, any ways to incorporate sources of nature and the elements into my life, I… that’s something I tried to explore and incorporate into my life.

Frederique 15:41
And how do you feel when you are in nature?

Stephen 15:43
Well, calm, and at ease… just to appreciate the slower pace of life, then. Yeah, as I say, with animals and with the elements, just to appreciate the slower pace of life and mindfulness really is just sort of mindfully paying attention. Yeah, sort of paying attention to, I try to do that to pay attention to, you might feel like the breeze, and try and pay attention to that mindfully and as well as like the sound of water and the sound of a stream. Like, you know, river try to mindfully pay attention to that I often pay attention to the fact that our changeable river quite close to where I live, and I go to the river and I notice how on seven days, it’s very common in other days, it’s, it’s been raining, the water can be very… more harsh. And yeah, I like to like to try and pay attention to things like that is, you know, it’s definitely beneficial and, you know, in almost like the river, it can almost be very, very harsh and almost sort of, like violent. The way that when you see the water crashing against the rocks.

Frederique 16:54

Stephen 16:56
You see, they elementally are…. it’s just that it follows the elements of nature, really how some, like when it’s been raining, but then when it’s been dry it comes to the river, it’s a lot more calm.

Frederique 17:08
But have you noticed that the water never stops?

Stephen 17:12
Yes, I know. Yes. I definitely think

Frederique 17:16
Yeah, nothing. Nothing. That can stop the water.

Stephen 17:21
Yeah, it’s just something that’s constant. It’s always… it changes in form, and nature. But it’s just, it’s always there. Yes. It’s a constant.

Frederique 17:31
This is why I like it.

Stephen 17:34
I like like, when I can I like to go to the seaside as well and just appreciate the sea. And, you know, the same reasons the waves are constantly moving and changing in form. It’s always there, but it’s always changing. I think the sea is…. water is so calming and so yeah, just so relaxed. Yeah. I think that would be beneficial to anyone really, I can’t say you know, like, why wouldn’t it be better, to take some time to, you know, to appreciate nature, especially in difficult times. Like, I’ve been trying to do that during the lockdown. Spend time in nature, whenever I can, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Frederique 18:23
And where you are, Is it clean? I mean, plastic free? and etc. Or do you see a lot of pollution?

Stephen 18:34
It mostly is mostly clean. You get some time some children, some teenagers leaving like litter, and things like that, like bottles and plastic bags and things. But it’s mostly a clean environment. Yeah, so that’s good as well. I think that’s, I think that’s important as well as not to damage the environment and not to leave rubbish and litter. But yeah, well, as I say during lockdown as well, trying to be around nature. And I know that element of me was taking photographs. I’ve taken so many photographs of the sky, and the clouds and the same thing it’s constantly changing and just to appreciate nature in that way. That’s a different way again, like sort of the visual element. Yeah, just to…. nature, and I say the sky and the clouds and even like birds flying, taking pictures of you know the difference. Different things like just appreciating mindfully different elements. That is so easily, so easily just to forget they are there.

Frederique 19:53
So can you talk a little bit more about the lack of contact with nature. How does that affect your mental health?

Stephen 20:04
Well, at the moment I am, as I say, I try to get as much contact with nature as I can, but I think at least myself with the lack of contact with nature is, I think it could be damaging, because I don’t know, I think everything is interconnected and so I think because its like going back in history, if people were more in contact with nature, I think back in history, and in some ways, in modern life, it seems like we are going more away from nature. The further you get away from nature, you know, the further further you…. the further you’re removed from the earth. Because I think humans are just part of nature, as you know, as same as anything else and the further you go away from that… you get disconnected from the essential big part of humans the way that you know what I mean, like, sort of, in nature, people more tended the land, and we lived in more agrarian existences.

Frederique 21:13

Stephen 21:14
Yeah, I mean, these days, you know, people have become more cut off from that, I think and so I think people in the past were more connected to nature. You know, so I, before I’m doing some volunteer in something called a community garden, again, another way of accessing nature and I thought things like that are beneficial, I think, getting in closer to nature and the elements. When I did that I did enjoy that. That’s another way of doing that, especially if you live in a city. So where I live is Cardiff, Cardiff, and there are these things called community gardens, and they help people to access nature, even if they live in a city, more urbanised environment, and things like community gardens, allow our species for people to get even more connected to nature and yeah, I definitely think that’s a good thing. I’d definitely like to get back to doing something like that after when, after the lockdown is over.

Frederique 22:27
I agree.

Stephen 22:28
Yeah, so I, I used to do one close to where I live now and I used to go to a place close to… it was called Riverside community garden. But I did stop doing it for a while, but I think I’d like to go back, you know, start doing something like that again. Yeah, and again, I would encourage anyone to definitely try and, you know, to do something like that. In addition to that, I also used to do like, be part of a music, sort of group community sort of music group, and I used to, in the same way, I used to find, I think I used to find that beneficial and when I was reading… it was very enjoyable. I met some nice people through that and I think it’s also that it can be… it’s also a communal thing as well, I think that can be very beneficial, anything, you know, these things in, in conjunction with like, a communal sort of environment, I think, is very beneficial.

Frederique 23:37
So, the combination of music, I mean, the art, music, and nature.

Stephen 23:45
Yeah. Yeah, so any, anything like that, it’s I think it’s beneficial. You know, I’m, I’m interested in well, being myself and that’s why a lot of these things where I’ve explored a lot of these things, all those things, I think can be beneficial. Music and nature. I think they are definitely beneficial for well being, you know, I think, community and communiality, I think, is a very important aspect of that as well. So I would definitely add that to the list of things to you know, to aid well being.

Frederique 24:27
This is lovely. So, before I close, I would like to say thank you so much for coming and talking to me. It was a lovely conversation, and I hope you will come back on the podcast.

Stephen 24:46
Okay, yeah. That’d be okay.

Frederique 24:49
And can you please answer the following question within your best abilities. Okay. Sunflowers or Roses?

Stephen 25:05

Frederique 25:07
lion or Crow,

Stephen 25:10

Frederique 25:12
LA or Paris?

Stephen 25:16

Frederique 25:18
Sharks or dogs?

Stephen 25:22

Frederique 25:24
And then the last one play music or baking?

Stephen 25:31
That’s easy for me it’s music.

Frederique 25:34
That was so funny. You can’t cook?

Stephen 25:49
I can’t cook. I’ve enjoyed this, its lifted my mood a bit.

Frederique 25:56
Yeah. Oh, sweet. I’m happy. And then next week we can do something about ancestry?

Stephen 26:04

Frederique 26:06
And the importance of knowing your roots, maybe.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai