Boys in Mind Meets...

An Interview with Mark De-Lisser:

By: Kit Cooper-Harrison

Mark De-Lisser, Community Support Play Worker

I am a Community Support Play Worker for the Bath Area Play Project (BAPP) and a freelance mentor for Mentoring Plus. I believe that play is one of the best ways of learning. As a mentor, I spend one-on-one time with boys who need a bit of a role model.
I spend a couple of hours with them on a weekly basis – sometimes we get a coffee, sometimes we play mini golf – creating something positive in their week. If they want to talk, that’s up to them, there’s no pressure, but it’s a space where they can talk.

I grew up in north west London and then moved to Bath for university, I studied psychology and media communications. After university, I was working jobs in bars and in retail, but I wanted to work with young people. I started volunteering with the Black Families Education Support group as a mentor which was fantastic.
From there, I got a full-time job as a supplementary school coordinator where I got to work with partner organisations, like Mentoring Plus and BAPP, who I work for now. There’s a lot of multi-agency work in Bath.

Mentoring is a two-way relationship which is what I enjoy most about that role. I really value being able to provide a positive role model for them. I enjoy that they are so open with me and I feel like I’m learning from them too.
With the play work, we have started working on transition with Year 7s which is really powerful stuff because for a lot of those children, it’s such a big culture shock to go to big school. Play is so important in my day-to-day. It keeps me light-hearted.

I am very lucky because I have a very supportive friendship group and family. My wife is amazing and helps me a lot. I practice yoga and meditation which has been incredible because I tend to internalise things. Taking time to reflect inwardly helps me recover. Being able to pass what I’ve learned on to young people is really helpful.
Exercise, yoga, eating well, friends, that’s how I keep myself well. Our bodies and minds are linked. The physical practice of yoga allows us to still our bodies and still our minds.

I listen to a lot of music; I write; I’m a keen spoken word poet. I love poetry and I love writing and I love art. I was part of the Bath/Bristol spoken word scene, so I performed a lot which meant that I was writing a lot.
Writing a journal has been an amazing outlet for me because it allows me to tell my own story to myself. I think creativity and art should be celebrated. Creativity is key to a healthy mind.

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