Lay Down Your Weapons – Case: Knives

It is interesting to read this young person’s thoughts on knife crime and where she thinks the issues stem from.

Hopefully more young people will take some of these things into consideration and put down their knives.

It is pointless to ruin the lives of yourself and others with one little mistake involving a knife.


First things first, this post is not intended to cause offence to anyone and if you are offended then I do apologise in advance but this is my opinion. In despite of my sarcasm, this post should be taken seriously as the issues described are of a sensitive nature.

Unfortunately we have no choice but to live in a world where crime is inevitable, think about it – if crime did not exist a lot of people would be out of a profession because some occupations only exist due to crime being present. Imagine a world with no law enforcement agents…

So, one can assume that crime exists so that society has a balance, Functionalist thinkers believe that society would collapse and fail without crime. What do you think? Did you ever think of crime as a way for society to function? Probably not.

However, although we are faced with…

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Putting in Work to Achieve His Dreams: Joel’s Story

There has been a certain buzz around the UK music scene over recent years, which is likely to serve as inspiration for young people who want to pursue a career within the music industry.

Joel Lancaster is a 20-year-old singer from Croydon, who performs under the name of JL.  He says: “Singing has always been something that I could do from a young age.  My voice was handed down from my mum, but I started taking singing seriously from the age of 16.”

Joel originally wanted to become a basketball player, but he decided to pursue a singing career once he learnt that a management company was interested in working with him.

This is despite Joel never having any professional voice training, instead teaching himself everything he knows.  However, voice training is something he’d love to do, as he believes that there is “ALWAYS room for improvement and development.”

Photo used with permission.
Photo used with permission.

Joel is an RnB artist – although he says “I like to try and be versatile, so I look forward to trying most types” – which also happens to be his favourite genre of music.

Two of Joel’s favourite artists, Tank and Eric Bellinger, are  also his main sources of inspiration.  He says: “They are both amazing song writers and they also have two of the best voices in my opinion, and I always love their music and their vibe.”

Tank’s work ethic is also something that Joel has strong admiration for, because “he constantly has bangers, but at the same time, he is writing bangers for other artists, always in the studio laying stuff down.  He is just always on the go.”

Joel has put time into building up his music credentials, enabling himself to do more than just sing.  He has spent time recording, writing and producing his own music – he even used his own money to purchase equipment to teach himself how to produce music.

Photo used with permission.
Photo used with permission.

Performing live is something that Joel has only started doing fairly recently, but his performances are starting to become “more and more frequent, as people have started requesting for me to perform at their shows”.

He has performed at the Nexus Showcase at the Elixir Bar in Camden Town (Jan 2015), Contagious Sounds (Valentine Special) at the Electric Social in Brixton (Feb 2015) and the UK Unsigned Hype (USH) Awards at the O2 Arena in London (Jan 2015).  In fact, his greatest musical achievement so far is winning the Best Unsigned RnB Newcomer 2014 award at the USH Awards evening in January.

Despite working towards a career in music, Joel is studying to be a gas engineer.  He says that it is “something to fall back on if my singing doesn’t work, but I’m sure it will”.  Joel’s ultimate goal would be to get recognised and signed by a major record label, and become a mainstream artist.  However, if that didn’t work out, the he would love to just write songs for artists – “As long as I am doing music I am happy”.

Joel encourages young people to be brave, go after their dreams and “never hold back”.  He says: “I think it is better to try and fail than not to try and never know, because that step of courage could be the step you need to take for the road to success.”

He believes that young people should work hard to achieve what they love, as “without hard work they might as well not bother trying”.  Joel said: “You have to put in looaaddsss of hard work and stay determined, motivated and consistent… Things never come so easy.”

Joel also encourages aspiring singers to “just go for it!  Any negative, you turn it into a positive.”  As he puts it, “Music is what everybody wants so be that person providing it.”

One of the things that is most special about Joel is that he would love for his music career to make a difference one day.  He says, “If I am able to influence people through my music then I feel that I would be a huge success and it would be an amazing feeling, because I’ll then know my music is personally touching people.”

Photo used with permission.
Photo used with permission.

You can listen to JL’s music on his SoundCloud (MrJL) or YouTube (JL OFFICIAL) channels.


Guest Post: What it’s like living with depression and anxiety disorder

Rhianna shares her story about what life is like living with depression and anxiety disorder, as she tries to defy the “depression stereotype”.

“Just sleep on it, you’ll feel better in the morning”. The most common thing I hear from people. However, depression is not something that you can sleep on. Things don’t just miraculously “get better” in the morning. Depression is more than just a low mood or a sequence of bad days; it is a very real illness.

I’m a young person and I suffer from severe depression, alongside anxiety disorder. I’ve been suffering from depression for five years, been clinically diagnosed three times, and “overdosed” is printed out on my doctors records under the title, “important information”.

I was recently diagnosed with anxiety disorder, although I’ve been aware of it for longer. I’ve hidden self-inflicted scars so I wouldn’t be judged by people in a world where depression is brushed off as being weak and just too pathetic to deal with the hustles and bustles of life. Suicide has also been a common underlying thought.

My journey with depression and anxiety disorder has been a roller coaster. It’s been consuming, overwhelming, frustrating, life changing, and above all downright tiring; it’s been exhausting.

Photo by somecomputer and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by somecomputer and used under Creative Commons License.

Although over the years I’ve had fleeting moments of happiness, joy and hope, the majority of the time I’ve felt helpless, hopeless, disconnected, cold, careless, numb, stupid, paranoid, worried, doubtful, and overall an overwhelming sense of not belonging. I’ve also felt empty or extremely disconnected from everything in this world, struggling to find a purpose. These are only but a few of the emotions I battle with daily.

A while ago I decided that I couldn’t continue this way and I needed to talk to someone. Although I had previously been to a counsellor a couple of years ago, it wasn’t very effective as I was unwilling and unable to open up to the counsellor and they regarded me as being quite “aggressive”.

I decided to call the doctor at the end of last year, and they referred me to the Croydon Psychological and Wellbeing Services IAPT, where I have been on a waiting list to receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This was a big decision for me, as I hate to talk to anyone about what’s going on with me, but I got to a point where I missed the spark that used to exist in my life.

Depression and anxiety order can also affect you physically as well as mentally. I’m constantly tired, during the night I wake up every few of hours, I often feel weak, some days I can literally feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, and often times even taking the deepest breath does not make me feel even the slightest bit relieved; these are a few amongst other symptoms.

Not to mention the lack of motivation to do anything – even the smallest task of cooking, struggling to get up each day, and the inability to stay focussed on one thing for more than five minutes without zoning out.

Anxiety disorder and depression affect every aspect of your life from relationships with family and friends, to working with people, to carrying out tasks. It can leave you feeling isolated, alone, and misunderstood because initially you feel that no one understands what you’re going through and you feel embarrassed and stupid telling people what’s going on with you, especially when it’s hardly a fatal situation that you’re going through.

It’s even harder when you don’t understand what’s going on with yourself. You often feel ashamed for feeling so weak and helpless in regards to controlling your emotional and mental well-being. Although everyone deals with their depression differently, this is definitely something that I experience.

Image by geralt and used under Creative Commons License.
Image by geralt and used under Creative Commons License.

A lot of people I know who find out that I suffer from depression and an anxiety disorder are normally surprised. I’ve heard “you don’t suit the depression type”, “you’re so bubbly though” to, “but I thought you were so confident”.

But who exactly is the “depression type”? I refuse to become the “depression stereotype” – someone who stays in their pyjamas all day in the house, who sits in the dark not doing anything, walks around alone in a daze looking teary eyed. However, I do not judge anyone who does decide to deal with their depression in this way.

I won’t deny that I’ve had dark days when I’ll cry on and off, when I just want to sit on my sofa and watch TV, listen to music in bed, felt suicidal etc, but I also love to laugh, support my friends and see them happy, hang around family from time to time etc.

Basically I do enjoy a distraction. I just don’t deem it necessary to showcase my mental disorders and thrust my mood on those around me. However, having these disorders has inadvertently affected the way I behave with those closest to me, although I do try my hardest to stop when I realise that I’m letting this illness get a hold of me. I especially do not want or need attention from people, and having them pitying or feeling sorry for me.

Depression and anxiety disorder do not define me, but it’s something that I deal with daily. I do admit it’s changed me, but in life what doesn’t?

To all of those who suffer from any mental disorder, do not be afraid or ashamed to speak out. Don’t suffer in silence. This isn’t a life choice, it’s an illness. Acknowledging that is your first step to recovery. Don’t be afraid of your battle. Feeling this way does not make you weak or below anyone else. Opening up and letting someone in is all the strength that you need.

Rhianna is a 19-year-old from Croydon, who is working towards becoming a therapist in the mental health field.