Lack of Respect

During my time away last week, I was again made aware of the lack of respect that young people have not only for their elders, but for each other.  This is an issue that has bothered me for a long period of time, mainly because I feel that a lack of respect is one of the factors behind many of the issues that young people are wrapped up in.

Young people not only have a lack of respect for those around them, but they also have quite a distorted view of respect, which I struggle to understand.  It is as if they think that respect goes hand in hand with power, violence and unruly behaviour, but that is not what respect should be.  Respect is about treating others fairly, exhibiting manners and speaking to people in the right way.

This misunderstanding of respect also means that respect for human life in general has gone out the window for many young individuals, which means that they will carry out acts of violence – especially stabbings – without a second thought.

It seems that this lack of respect worsens as the ages get younger, which is an extremely worrying factor and makes me determined to understand why young people choose to show disrespect.

I would like to hear your views on this subject and how you think we could address this issue, as there is so much more to say, which I plan to focus on in a future piece.

Creative Futures Programme Day 8: Business Planning

Our live music event has the real possibility of becoming a fully fledged business venture, which made a session on business panning with Alison Surtees very appropriate. This was our second time with Alison, after first meeting her on Day 5 when we learnt about event planning.

We were given an insight into the difference between being self-employed and a business start-up, as we learned that when you set up a company, you can limit your liability, but if you’re self-employed, then you are liable for everything.  The company sits as an entity, whilst you sit as an individual.

Alison led out on a discussion of what is involved in being self-employed and what it is to be self-employed.  She told us that if you are self-employed, you have to register with HMRC, but you don’t have to register immediately – you have about 3-4 months until after you’ve set up to sign up.  You can also do everything online.


Alison also stressed the importance of having a business plan as a self-employed individual, because you are in fact the business.  She said you need to know your market, who your customers are and who your competitors are, but most importantly, you need to know your value.

However, as a freelancer, the most important thing is not about what you know, it’s about who you know.  Alison told us that we need to think about how to get ourselves out there and make our faces known, as well as advising those of us who hadn’t already to sign up to LinkedIn.  She said that we should start looking at other people’s networks and looking for people that may be able to help us in our respective fields.

Nevertheless, LinkedIn is a cyber way of networking, which is not as effective as networking with individuals in person.  Alison said: “The way you’ll get business is face-to-face… People buy you as much as they buy your skills.”


We also learnt that behind every industry is a sector body, which was news to me.  Alison told us that we need to get to know the sector body behind our chosen industry and find out how they can help us.  The two main bodies in the creative industry happen to be ‘Creative Skillset’ and ‘Creative and Cultural Skills’, which I definitely intend to look into.

Most importantly, if anyone decides to become self-employed, then they must have insurance and work out their budgets.  Insurance should be one of the first things that are thought about, and they would also be part of the business plan process.  We also learnt about what is tax-deductible and that when doing a budget forecast, the individual would need to focus exactly on what they’d need to spend money on.

We did not have the chance to discuss what a business start-up entails, as we jumped straight into a fully fledged conversation regarding our event on July 26th.  After speaking about the research that we had undertaken, we decided on the final name for the event, which is ‘Positive Summer Vibes’.  Since we had the name finalised, Lily (18), got started on the design for the leaflets and the posters, which will be out for release soon.


Randy (18), Inno (19) and myself (21), also went out and spoke to some young people in Croydon Town Centre.  We gathered information about what music they most enjoy listening to, what food they’d like to see at a live music event and what UK artist they’d most want to see perform live.  We got some good findings, which gave us an idea of the type of food we would like to serve at our event, and it also made us realise that we need to find a UK-based reggae or dancehall artist.

We really need to find a band and like I said, we need a reggae or dancehall artist, to accompany our other confirmed acts, so if you know of anyone then please be in touch.  Also, if there are any businesses who would like to get involved and if there is anyone who is willing to sponsor us, then please get in contact at

We still really want to have young people involved, so if you are 16-24, unemployed and on Jobseekers, or know someone who is, please come to the Lives Not Knives unit in Centrale shopping centre next Tuesday at 2pm.  This is a great project that will enable you to develop your skills while having fun, so don’t miss another day.  Follow us on Twitter (@FuturesPositive) and like our page on Facebook (Positive Summer Vibes) for more information.

And if you haven’t listened to our track, LNK Feeling, on SoundCloud yet, then give it a listen now.  It is so catchy:

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Creative Futures Programme Day 7: Un-Convention

Our eyes were opened to what our event could actually turn out like, as we heard from Ruth Daniel, who is part of the music events organisation, Un-Convention.  Ruth started out as a musician at a very young age, who then went on perform in bands and start her own record label.

However, she eventually began to see that the music industry was changing and that the old models were broken, as the age of digital opportunity came about.  The traditional music industry was saying that music was dead, but Ruth’s label did not agree and they decided to put on an event to prove this, while also bringing people together.

Un-Convention was born and even though the organisation had no money, they made it happen.  Part of the organisation’s mission statement is, “Un-Convention doesn’t believe in ‘do it yourself’.  We believe in do it together”, which is what we need to take on board when putting our event in place.


Un-Convention is also an innovative organisation, who looks at the political and social reasons why people make music –  they talk about things that are slightly different and ask how music can change people’s lives.  They are also quite unconventional, hosting events on boats, in car parks and on the street, as well as other more conventional venues.

The organisation has a global reach, having worked with thousands of people around the world, but they always make sure to work with the locals.  They are also currently developing a number of cultural spaces in different locations around the world.

As we learnt more about the events that Un-Convention had put on, including a 12 hour music event when those in attendance were able to receive the recorded album at the end, Rodney P said that “we need to think bigger”.  Ruth also mentioned that we might have the opportunity to connect our event with other music communities around the world, but we still have a while to go yet.


Ruth said that we should think about who inspires us and how we can get them to perform  at our event, as well as thinking about what other young people want to talk about and what they want to hear.  We realised that we need to get back out there and speak to young people about what they want, just like we spoke to them regarding the name of our event.  It is also important for us to come up with a strategy to get young people engaged and responding to us.

As we continued to discuss about how our event would come together, Ruth told us that “it’s about coming up with a master plan… The aim is to get that outline of how the whole day works… [and]… then full in the gaps”.  She advised us to get a set schedule for the day, sort out the programme, think about who we want to get involved, consider what we need to make it all happen and to promote the most sellable aspects of the event.

We also spoke about getting a studio and an individual in to do the sound, as well as the prospect of a panel discussion.  However, we now need to consider potential topics and individuals who would have the knowledge to be part of the panel discussion.  Ruth also said that we should invite industry people to our event and get them to see what we’ve done.


We want to involve as many people in the community as possible, so we’re looking for any local businesses who are willing to sponsor us and we want to hear from any other young people who want to get involved, especially on the actual day of the event.  We are still looking for a band and some female acts, who do not have to be from Croydon, so please do get in touch with us.

The flyers and posters should be coming soon, the final name of the event should be decided tomorrow and it won’t be long before we reveal our confirmed acts to you.  However, we also want to hear from the young people about what music they like and what UK talent they enjoy listening to; you never know, we may be able to book them.

Follow us on Twitter (@FuturesPositve) and like our Facebook page (Positive Future); and again, if there are any young people aged 16-24, unemployed and on Jobseekers who are interested in working on this project with us, come to the Lives Not Knives unit in Centrale tomorrow at 2pm tomorrow.


As an extra special treat for you, here is the final edit of the track that we created using the software programme, Ableton.  This is ‘LNK Feeling’.  Enjoy it.

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Creative Futures Programme Day 6: Ableton

A fun, energetic vibe filled the Lives Not Knives unit as we were introduced to the software programme, Ableton, by Esa Williams.  Esa has been working with the software since 2005 and he also does one-to-one workshops in studios.  He says that Ableton “allows you to express yourself musically without being a musician”.


Ableton allows you to do everything yourself and also take your eyes off the screen when making music.  We learnt that each separate channel was a control for each band member, and it was the controller that allowed us to play music without being a literal musician.  Esa said: “You can play around and create your own little melodies without thinking too much.”


This was a very hands on workshop, which gave us the opportunity to try out the software and create our own song.  Esa says that Ableton “allow you to create something and make something fun, which is just what we did.


Inno (19) and Andrae (23) kicked things off, as Inno provided the base music using the control board while Andrae took to the mic and gave us the baseline.  Ijeoma (24) and myself (21) stepped to the mic to create the melody, and Randy (18) brought the beat, with a little bit of beatboxing.


Newcomer Millik (17) stepped up and provided the initial vocals for our track, followed by Andrae and a reluctant Lily (18), who actually added a hilarious and unique element to the overall sound. However, Andrae was more than willing to get back on the mic and he had us cracking up in laughter with his ‘Family Guy’ reference.  Hip Hop artist Rodney P, who is leading out in the Creative Futures Programme, also got involved and showed us how it was done, as he did what he does best.


Finally, Ijeoma gave us a much-needed chorus as she sang, “When I get that feeling, that feeling”.  Randy and Inno also came in and provided the male backing vocals to make our track complete.


All of us got really involved in this activity and there was a nice, family atmosphere as we laughed together and supported each other.  We are continuing to grow and work together in the planning of our event, which is coming along more everyday.


We now have five confirmed acts for July 26th, as well as a host and a DJ, but we still need to find a band.  We are also on the look out for sponsors and local Croydon businesses who may be willing to donate food and drink, so please do get involved and support us.

Anymore young people who would like to get involved and join the Creative Futures Programme are also more than welcome, as Millik came by for the first time today and we welcomed him with open arms.  So if you are 16-24, unemployed and on Jobseekers, come down the Lives Not Knives unit in Centrale tomorrow at 2pm.


Our Twitter and Facebook page are also live now, so please support us by liking Positive Future and following @FuturesPositive.  We want to interact with you.

Creative Futures Programme Day 5: Event Planning

Event planning was today’s sole focus at Lives Not Knives, as Alison Surtees helped us with the thorough planning of our live music event on July 26th.  Alison has a background in film, which then led to her setting up a couple of social enterprises, and she now works freelance.

Alison wanted to find out where we’re at in regards to planning our event, as well as understanding what plans we have set out at the current time.  She told us that we want to think about why we’re putting the event on, who our target audience are, what the time scale of the event will be and what else might be going on that day which could give us a headache.


We were also provided with some words of wisdom from Alison, who said: “Negotiating skills are crucial when having an event.”  She also told us about the 3 Bs – Beg, Blag, Borrow – which we need to do in order for us to get what we need, as using all of our contacts is extremely useful.

However, we also had to face the fact that no matter how well we may plan an event, there is always something that will go wrong.  Alison says that there is”always something you’ve got to think about” and that once you start dealing with external partners, you also need to consider their time scale.  We have to get into the mindset of thinking like event managers and be able to manage people, as well as locations.


We also discussed the RAG system – Red, Amber, Green – for the risk assessment.  If you start to see red, then do not do it or neutralise the problem immediately.  If you think amber, then have a discussion with the group regarding your decision, and if you think green, then it’s all good.

Alison told us that we are “firefighting from the moment [we] start”, so we need to consider our backup and have a Plan B, as well as an emergency plan, in place just in case our Plan A fails.  She also said to us that today was going to be the first day of our event planning, which we got stuck right into by being split into two groups – girls versus boys.

We wrote down as much information as possible and went through the ins and outs of the event, such as permits, health and safety, uniform and promotion.  We were also allocated official roles, so that we are now able to carry out particular tasks that will get the ball rolling.


Fast-thinking Tara (17) found our first official artist, who she met through the Momentum 2014 Youth Conference, while Rodney P – who is leading the event – was able to get in contact with an individual he knows within the industry who has also agreed to perform at the event.

Andrae (23) and myself (21) were close behind, as we confirmed two more great young artists later in the day, while Nia (17), Ijeoma (24) and Damian (24) are on the case, as they continue to make contact with more potential acts.


However, all of our current acts are male and we are still looking for a band, so please get in contact if you would like to perform (Facebook: Shaniqua Benjamin; Twitter: @ShanqMarie/@YPInsight).  We would also love to some more young people working with us, so if you are 16-24 and on Jobseekers, then come to the Lives Not Knives unit in Centrale next Tuesday at 2pm.

Be on the look out for our official Facebook page and Twitter account, which will be coming soon.  We can’t wait to interact with you.


Creative Futures Programme Day 4: Events Management

Day 4 of the Creative Futures Programme with Lives Not Knives and Rodney P gave us a lesson on events management by labels manager, Jean-Claude Charnier.  Jean-Claude has two companies – management company, Lionbeat, and events promotion company, Trinity Music London.

Jean-Claude entered into the music industry through promotion, which he says is the easiest way to get into the industry, as you have the opportunity to meet individuals from various sectors.

However, before you start promoting an event, Jean-Claude says that it is essential for you to find your identity and establish a strong identity.  You also need to work out what it as that you want to promote – whatever music you’re into, find out what that’s about and put that into your identity.

He also mentioned that how you present your promotion is critical – Rodney said: “You need to have something that draws people’s attention.”  You need to think about what you want to promote and have a particular tone of voice, which should be snappy and interesting.  Jean-Claude let us into a secret, saying that having gumption is the most important thing.

It is also essential to carry out research, so you not only know what you’re talking about, but so that you can also figure out what you are actually allowed to do.  Jean-Claude said: “You always have to present in a certain way.”

As there is a lot of intricacy to event management, it is important to break down the event.  You need to consider set times, travel for artists and whether they will be having a sound check, security and the guest list.

It is essential to make your artists feel comfortable – such as keeping them well fed and hydrated – as it will have an effect on your long-term relationship.  Looking at equipment hire and being prepared is also extremely important, as you want to be establishing what the requirements are well in advance.

There are also three crucial people that you need to be effectively communicating with during the running of the event.  They are the venue manager, bar manager and the sound engineer (who is possibly the most important of the three).  These three individuals will help to ensure that your event runs smoothly and efficiently.  Getting to know your team is a must when putting on an event.

However, before you can even start booking artists, you need to establish how much money you have to spend, as budgeting is crucial.  Rodney emphasised this point by saying that “budgeting is the thing that will make you or sink you”.

Jean-Claude spoke to us about approaching local brands and companies, who could possibly sponsor our event.  He told us to look at ‘disruptor brands’, which are the newer brands who want to break out into the market, as they would probably be most likely to help us.

After Jean-Claude’s presentation, we started to get into the nitty gritty of the planning for our event on July 26th, which is drawing ever closer.  We’ve decided that we want a mix of urban and acoustic artists, with some other little bits thrown in, so we discussed the artists that we would like to perform and starting getting into contact with them.

There were also conversations regarding promotions, sponsorship, possible MCs and our digital marketing strategy.  However, we would still love input from other young people, so if you are 16-24, unemployed and on Jobseekers in the Croydon borough, come over to the Lives Not Knives unit on the top floor of Centrale tomorrow at 2pm.

We are also looking for potential sponsors, MCs and a young band who is based in Croydon, so if you are interested in getting involved with this community event that will be empowering young people, please get in contact with me via Facebook (Shaniqua Benjamin) or Twitter (@ShanqMarie/@YPInsight).

Photo from Wikipedia and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo from Wikipedia and used under Creative Commons License.

Creative Futures Programme Day 3: Social Media and Digital Marketing

Discussions and debates were in full flair during day three of the creative programme with charity, Lives Not Knives, and Hip Hop artist, Rodney P.  Today’s interactive workshop was on social media, which we are all familiar with as young people, but we were given an insight into how to use social media as a marketing tool, which many of us were not so familiar with.

The workshop was presented to us by  a charismatic and motivating young woman, Hannah Witton, who recently graduated from university and is using her social media expertise as a freelancer.

Hannah used YouTube as a launch pad,  by posting vlogs she made about “random stuff” to the website.  What initially started as a hobby eventually morphed into a money-making opportunity, and it was the use of social media to promote her channel that helped Hannah to gain 50,000 subscribers.

Hannah kicked off the workshop by splitting us into three groups and assigning each of us one of the social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.  We then had to champion our assigned social network and give three reasons as to why they were the best.  This activity highlighted the fact that although they are all social networks, each of them are different and have different users.

When promoting an event or building up your brand on social media, Hannah said: “You want to be hosting different parties on each site.”  Using a combination of these websites can help any brand or organisation to build up a solid social media presence.

Our groups were then given the task of envisioning an event and creating the name, Twitter handle and Facebook page title.  The three ideas formulated were a mixer, a music event and an American sports party.  However, it did not stop there, as we then had to work towards devising a fully fledged social media campaign that we would use to promote our events.

Hannah stressed the need to think about shareability and engagement when promoting on social media platforms.  She asked us to think about how we were going to get our target audience and followers to engage in our social media campaign, as “engaged followers are the ones that are most valuable”.

We needed to focus on three different elements, which each needed a different strategy.  These were:

1. Build up the event: how are you going to get others interested and talking about the event;  how will you promote the event etc?

2. Live: are you going to be posting updates during the event; what will you be posting; how will you get those in attendance to post updates while the event is taking place?  Hannah told us that you would need someone to continuously check the hashtag and see who’s tweeting you during the event, as people like when a brand re-tweets them.

3. Legacy: after the event is over, what are you going to do next; how will you keep people interested and engaged?

Hannah also said that we should think about using our social media presence to create a community who actually cares about what we’re doing, as we don’t want to be constantly selling, selling, selling.  It’s more likely for a community that cares to be a community that is engaged.  I was actually so inspired by this activity that I want to develop the business idea my group came up with and make it into a reality

This was a very beneficial workshop, which was followed by organisation of the main event on July 26th and the initial allocation of job roles.  However, there is still a lot of work to be done and there is still time for you to join.  So if you’re 16-24, unemployed, on Jobseekers and want to develop skills within the creative industry, come down to the Lives Not Knives unit in Centrale tomorrow at 2pm.

Image by Kathleen Donovan and used under Creative Commons License.
Image by Kathleen Donovan and used under Creative Commons License.