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Re:Route Support group for South Asian community celebrates its first birthday!

Re:Route was set up by Mind in Harrow trustee Sonam Patel and has been running since June 2018. The aim of the group - which is run independently - is to create a space where people of South Asian descent between the ages of 18 – 35 can come together to listen and to support each other. 

Sonam says, “Re:Route was my attempt to start the conversation between peers. It sounds simple, and yet there wasn’t any peer support in a borough with such a high proportion of people from the South Asian Community.”

The group which meets at the Harrow Arts Centre every month is for anyone on their mental health recovery journey or simply for those who want to meet other like minded people in a friendly and understanding space.

Sonam says she has personally suffered from the lack of awareness and stigma surrounding mental health. She says, “Throughout my life I dismissed myself as a worrier, someone who’s perhaps too sensitive or “just gets panicked”. It was and is anxiety. Had there been just a little more awareness around the subject growing up, I’d have known this much sooner. Knowledge equips us to talk confidently and supportively to one another – in the moments when it matters the most. When we don’t talk about mental health openly it breeds more stigma.”

Sonam started off as the main facilitator of the group, but now co-facilitates it with Jennal Amin. She says, “Having had my own experience of going through anxiety and also working in mental health, I saw there was a huge need to really get something going in the Asian community, because of the fear and cultural taboo that still exists around mental health. 

Jennal says, “The format is based around group discussion, which is the foundation of peer support. It’s a space we share our struggles and listen actively to each other, giving and receiving feedback or words of encouragement. It’s also a chance for reflection. And while we certainly don't have all the answers, we believe good mental health is a journey - one which won't go far unless we start opening up on how we really feel.” 

Jennal is also busy working on setting up another support group for the community which will come under the umbrella of Re:Route. The group is called Mental Wealth – South Asians unite to share stories, change conversations and will work in exactly the same format but will focus on the over 35 age group instead. The only difference is it being organised and run by the community themselves.

Next Re:Route meeting

Date: Saturday 15th June

Time: 3:15pm -5:15pm

Venue: Kenton Room, Harrow Arts Centre, 171 Uxbridge Road, Harrow, HA5 4EA

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