A Clouded View

We’ve been brought into a world,

Thrown into a society,

Where it’s as if young people,

Are willed to fail.

A government,

Which seems to hate us,

Media that for some reason,

Wants to demonise us.

Elders that want to make decisions for us,

Not allowing us to have our say,

Preferring us to complain but stay quiet,

So they can throw blame our way.

When it comes to the young,

Too much focus is on the bad,

Making others miss out,

On all the good that’s at hand.

Youth are often looked at,

Through a clouded view,

With individuals,

Seeing what they want to see,

Rather than cleaning the fog from their eyes,

And seeing the hidden truths.

Sometimes it’s about looking beyond the actions,

Seeing the person lurking inside,

Giving them a chance to prove themselves,

Rather than casting them aside.

Perhaps there are young people,

Who simply need one person to believe,

In what they can be,

What they can achieve,

Instead of judging them harshly.

That boy you see as annoying, foolish,

Is actually incredibly smart,

But you didn’t take time to get to know him,

Getting distracted by the messing around.

That girl who’s “obsessed” with her appearance,

Is more vulnerable than you think,

But instead of sitting and talking to her,

You brush her off because of her “vanity”.

And that young person selling drugs on road,

Has one of the most beautiful hearts you’ll see,

Yet you think he’s not worth knowing,

Put off by the presence of cocaine or weed.

There’s a so much more to young people,

That most don’t realise,

Neglecting their kindness, humour, intelligence,

Because of the scales in their eyes.

And what about the young people starting businesses,

The ones volunteering in their communities,

The young carers, young geniuses, young activists,

Or the ones simply following their hopes and dreams?

Young people are not perfect,

And not every individual wants to strive for the best,

But take time out to get to know them,

Hear their side of the story,

Get an understanding of the character underneath.

It’s time to stop believing all the negativity,

You hear and see,

Otherwise nothing will change,

In this split society.

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



When Lack of Funding leads to The End of an Era

Yesterday I was hit with the news that Live Mag UK would be ending at Christmas, after 15 years spent providing young people with journalistic skills, and the ability to use their voice to speak out about culture, current affairs and issues that were important to them.

Not a whole lot of avenues like this are available to young people, especially as they cater to any individual between the age of 12-25 who wants to get involved in presenting, film-making, photography and of course, writing (as well as other creative avenues).  There is no elitism at Live and there was no one excluded because they didn’t have a higher level of skill.

Like many others, I was upset and frustrated when I heard the news, because here was a very special service for young people biting the dust.  Live provided you with experience without all the toils of having to apply for, and eventually find, work experience.  And most of all, it gave young people a voice on a huge platform that they most likely would have been unable to have.

Why has this happened though?  Just like so many deceased and declining services, Live Mag UK is coming to an end because of that necessary but debilitating thing called money.  There is simply not enough money to fund it anymore and because the government continues to cut funding to youth services, Livity (the company that owns Live) needs to find a way to earn money and boost funds while continuing to help as many young people as possible.

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

Why does the government seem to hate young people so much?  I mean, they can’t have any real love for us if they are constantly making cuts to services for young people and implementing laws or making changes that are extremely detrimental to us.  It has been reported that funding for 2,300 children’s centres alone have been cut in England this year, which will mean reduced services and possibly closures for some.  How is this effective or fair?

Too many youth clubs, youth centres and the like have been forced to shut down, mainly due to the lack of available funds, a lot of which comes from the government.  In a lot of cases, these are effectively helping disadvantaged or “troubled” young people, particularly those who are dealing with mental health, disabilities or are caught up in the “street life”.

More money needs to be put into youth services, but youth services also need to start looking into more ways to generate income themselves, in order for them to do all they can to help these young people and make the greatest impact possible.  However, more young people also need to be allowed to really use their voice, allowing them express and explain what it is they need.

Photo by Emergency Dentists USA and used under Creative Commons License.

Too often, what is best for the young people in question is not considered by those in power, who are usually older individuals that do not always have an understanding of the young people they are working with and/or targeting.  Their wants and needs are skirted over or ignored for something else entirely, which can be incredibly annoying and ineffective.

Although other initiatives will be stepping up in its place, the needs and wants for most of the young people involved with Live Mag UK are coming to an end.  The new initiatives will be heading in a different direction, changing the dynamics of something that was so special, unique and beneficial to a whole lot of young people, particularly those from an urban background.

You see, Live Mag UK is more than just a magazine and online platform that enables young people to develop journalism skills.  It is a collective of people that have created a warm and comfortable environment where young people can come together, be themselves, build up a network and most of all, speak their minds.

Looking back over the year, Live Mag UK has done so much for me, especially in being able to write stories relating to the American sports I love, which is an opportunity that is not highly available to me.  It’s heartbreaking to see it coming to an end.


The Recurring Problem

Unemployment.   A recurring problem,

Showing no sign of going away,

No matter what you might hear them say.

Youth unemployment figures,

Yo-yoing up and down,

But not actually telling the full story,

Not revealing the full extent of the problem.

Young people like hamsters,

Running round and round in a wheel,

Asking for experience, but first needing experience,

So getting none and getting nowhere,

Whirling around in their feelings of despair.

Some have graduated,

Holding a rolled up piece of paper that serves no purpose;

Some haven’t thrived in education,

Hiding skills they’re not given a chance to show.

In need of that money,

Some youth find themselves in the Job Centre,

Having to take money from the system,

That may have screwed them over.

A depressing experience,

Usually making them feel worse,

When advisors make you feel it’s your fault,

That you can’t find work.

Instead of being helpful, supportive,

They’re cold, patronising,

Not listening to your true needs,

Like where you want to be in life,

And what may be your dream.

Others may not be about benefits,

But they need a way to get on the bread line,

So what seems like the next best thing?

Why not resort to crime?

Selling drugs or robbing houses ain’t right,

But at least you’ll have somewhere to sleep at night,

Or money to buy the latest shoes and clothes,

And keep paying that contract for your smart phone.

What so many individuals fail to understand,

Is that searching for jobs is no easy demand.

Regular rejections leaving you feeling worthless,

Having no job resulting in feelings of uselessness,

Thinking that your dreams are pointless,

And your self-esteem gets less and less.

The youth need more chances,

To show employers their true worth,

To get opportunities in their chosen fields,

To get that experience they desperately need.

But more than that,

Youth need more support and understanding,

While they’re going through that period of job-hunting,

Because it’s not easy when they’re trying and trying,

But the reality of getting a job seems to be dying.

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


Improving support for young people dealing with self-harm

An increasing number of young people are engaging in self-harm, which is worrying, as it shows that it has become more common.  It’s sad when any young person resorts to self-harm, but sometimes it seems like the only option — I know, because I’ve been there.

However, there seems to be so little that young people know about self-harm — I was unaware that it was mental health problem until I actually started researching into it — and so many of them hide their self-harm that the official numbers are unclear.

There is also the question of why some young individuals feel afraid to tell someone that they’ve been self-harming or if they know where to get the help the need.  Although there is an increase in information and services available, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the information and services, so that young people know where to go for support and/or a helping hand.

Photo from mirror.co.uk.
Photo from mirror.co.uk.

In order to do this though, it is important to hear from the young people themselves, to learn what they understand about self-harm and how they think support available for them can be improved.

Young People Insight has developed a survey on self-harm with the young mental health charity, Off The Record Youth Counselling Agency, for 13-19 year olds who are living, working or studying in the borough of Croydon.  We want to gather knowledge on their experiences with self-harm, so that more detailed information will be available to help young people in Croydon dealing with it.

Self-harm affects a lot of young people and there should be as much support as possible, in order for them to work through it and learn to deal with their emotions in a safe, effective way.  This survey will allow us to help young people dealing with self-harm, so please click the link and share it for us to reach as many young people as possible: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/59LDVYB