Discussing Careers at the Young People Insight Forum

Careers was the topic of discussion at Project B on April 19th,  after the topic of March’s forum changed from careers to knife crime.

Young People Insight Forum- Project B

This change probably worked out for the better, as on Tuesday we were joined by two representatives from Croydon Council.  Roopa Doshi and Melad Ali, their Team Apprentice, work to ensure that young people, aged 14-19, do not end up as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).  They are responsible for tracking young people and finding out what it is that they are doing.

We also had the pleasure of being joined by Denise Hill from Evolve Housing, which was previously South London YMCA.  Evolve Housing provides hostels for young, homeless individuals, and also supports young people who have been homeless by trying to help them to move on.

This month, I gave Roopa and Melad the opportunity to lead out in the forum, as they are looking for ways to support young people with their limited resources, which resulted in responses that were beneficial to both them and Young People Insight going forward.

When asked about what career advice was like for us at school, college, university etc, it became clear that it was “pretty poor”, as Alana, 21 said.  We either weren’t aware of where to go for career advice, it wasn’t given to us or it simply didn’t work for us.  Alana believes that “as I didn’t have guidance, I jumped through multiple courses and careers.”

However, as 22-year-old Javell later added, “there are many young people who bounce off each other”, which is I am personally a strong advocate of.  Young people have the ability to work together to create something great, if only more of them would take the time to do it.  “If you can’t find a job, create one yourself,” he says.

As we spoke about whether we found our teachers supportive, 25-year-old Andrae brought it to another level, expressing that what was at school wasn’t really what he wanted to do.  He also said, “In my era, it’s like everything happened after… I got too old,” which is a thought that has probably crossed the mind minds of many young people in their mid to late 20s — I know it’s crossed mine.

When Roopa asked how important a career is over just being employed, Andrae’s immediate response was, “A career is about being happy.  Employment is about getting money.”  However, Alana took what Andrae said further, saying that neither matter, because the most important thing is happiness — “There’s no point getting a job if your feel like you’re not going to get anything from it.”

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

This question also led on to the subject of our working lives in the long-term.  Javell thinks that employment is the only option in regards to short-term gain, but he also stressed that young people think in short-term rather than long-term, which isn’t exactly effective for paving out a career.

As we spoke more about careers advice, we all agreed that there was a problem with how our educational options or opportunities were presented to us.  We all said that were made to believe that we had to sit our A-levels and then attend university in order to get a “good” job.

Melad shared his personal experience, telling us that he started A-levels, as he didn’t know that he had the option of doing a BTEC, but he then went on to do a BTEC and got into university to study Sociology.  Nevertheless, he left university after two years — rather than get himself into an extra year’s worth of debt — and started an apprenticeship with the council.


To round the discussion off, we tried to come up with effective ways to reach young people, particularly with a limited budget and limited resources.  Ideas included:

  • Creating a documentary, which would involve speaking to those who are NEET
  • Having young people putting on a careers fair for young people
  • Putting on events to reach those who are NEET
  • Talking face-to-face
  • Effectively utilising what you’ve already got.

Denise also said, “Try and focus on the people that you do manage to engage with and what difference you can make to them.”

I believe that a career is special and so much more than employment, as it is work that you are building upon for the long run and hopefully something that makes you happy.  It just takes thought, time and some help along the way.  As Alana says, “If you’ve got the confidence, you can do anything.”

YP Insight April Forum

The next forum will be on the 17th May at Project B, for anyone who is aged 16-25.  We’ll be talking dreams and also developing the media aspect of Young People Insight further.

Follow @YPInsight on Twitter to stay up to date with any updates or information.

Telling My Truth

Truth is one of the main elements at the centre of Young People Insight, with young people being encouraged to tell their truths in their own words.  That is tell their truth without distortion from the media or pressure to say the right thing from others; just raw, unadulterated truth.

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

As the founder of Young People Insight, I thought it was important to share a little more of my truth with all of you.  I’ve previously shared my experience with self harm and explained why leaving university was one of the best decisions I ever made, but I haven’t shared any recent part of my story with you.

Trying to get Young People Insight off the ground has been a struggle, which I am still battling now.  I didn’t know where to start with the forums, I wondered how I was going to reach people, I found myself worrying about funds and the list goes on.  Countless questions, doubts and worries have been plaguing my mind.

All the while, I’ve had people congratulate me on what I’m doing and encourage me to keep pushing forward, but I found myself feeling like a failure.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the brave step I’ve taken to even start something like this, but I feel like I’ve failed in the number of people I’ve reached and the time that it’s taken for me to actually start my forums.

You may be saying don’t be so hard on yourself, but that is a difficult feat for me.  I may come across as confident to a lot of individuals and seem like I have it all together, but that is so far from being the truth.


As I strive on in my quest to build Young People Insight, I continue to battle the voices inside that tell me that I’m not good enough, not capable enough and not liked enough.  I fight against the fear of taking the next steps, but most of all, I fight against the desire to simply give up.

Over the past month, I found myself in a depressive state, dealing with grief and doubting who I was, what I was doing and what my purpose was in life.  I couldn’t write, I didn’t want to be around people and I even considered giving up on Young People Insight.  What made it harder was that during this time, my sessions with my counsellor came to an end, when I most needed to speak to her and have that safe presence in my life.

It was the second time in the last year that wanted to isolate myself from everyone, give up entirely and just be taken from this world — the first time was actually the reason why I found myself in counselling.  Nevertheless, I made the decision to battle on, because what I intend to do through Young People Insight is simply too important to simply give up on.

There are young people who need to be heard and feel like they matter.  There are networks that need to be formed and creativity that needs to be tapped into.  There is also a borough that needs to do all it can to reach as many young people as possible, and I intend to be a part of that.

I know that this journey will continue to get tougher, but I just need to take time to remember why I’m doing this.  It’s not about me, but it’s about all of the amazing young people who need to be seen and feel empowered to use their voices.

I want them to know that I genuinely care and that I’m not above them, or any better than them, because I haven’t got it all together myself.  I’m still figuring everything out, just like them, which is why I want us to go on this journey together.

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

To all my young people, just know that you can take the step to drop out of university and overcome struggles with mental health to pave your own way towards greatness.  I believe we all have special potential within us.

Discussing Knife Crime at the Young People Insight Forum

When we met in Project B on March 15th for the third Young People Insight forum, careers was meant to be the point of discussion.  However, after learning about the fatal stabbing of 20-year-old Mujaahid Wilson in Thornton Heath on the previous night, I decided to change the subject of discussion from careers to knife crime.

Young People Insight Forum- Project B

Knife crime is a major issue among young people, which regularly terrorizes our streets and pointlessly rips young lives away from their families, friends and futures.  It is something that needs to be addressed and prevented immediately, but finding the answers is proving to be difficult, with knife crime showing no signs of going away.

When I posed the question of why young people carry knifes and why some of them ultimately end up stabbing another human being, one of the first reasons given was drugs and the effect they have on your behaviour.  This particular young people believes that drugs can make you very boisterous and aggressive.

Other reasons included people’s insecurities and wanting to fit in, the feeling of empowerment that comes from carrying a “tool”, problems at home, certain genres of music, territorial rivalries and naivety.  There was also a strong point raised by a 25-year-old who said that “People think no one can touch them”, giving them a sense of courage that may lead them to carry out violent crimes.

He later added, “Certain people, they think before they act,” which I think is key, because too many young people make bad decisions and carry out horrific acts, without stopping to consider the consequences.  If more young people stopped to think about the consequences of the their actions in that moment when they reached for their knife, then some of those young lives might have been spared.

P1120510 2

The same 25-year-old also thought that some people see knife crime as normal — “When you see something everyday, you don’t fear your life.”  I think that the common occurrence of knife crime and the reports of stabbings on the news, without many solutions, has made many individuals feel numb to it.  It has started to feel like a normal part of life for many individuals, which is a huge negative, as it makes the issue of knife crime a lot harder to fix.

Race also came up in the discussion, as an 18-year-old expressed her sadness over a lot of the knife crime having something to do with black people, which helps contribute to the unfair labelling of black people by the media.  This interestingly led into a conversation on race and the music industry, which was a little off-topic but a strong discussion nonetheless — it just shows how the forum can take different twists and turns, and that the youth have so much to say.

To wrap up the discussion, I asked how we could possibly prevent knife crime, as one of the main elements of Young People Insight is coming up with solutions to address the various problems young people face, rather than simply talking about them.  The responses included:

  • Give young people something to do
  • Keep them busy
  • Have more jobs and also have more initiatives in place to help certain individuals find jobs
  • Create a short film (or another media resource) that will show the realities of knife crime.

For knife crime to truly be prevented, it will take all of us working together as a community, finding the root of the problem and reaching out to the young people in the most effective ways possible.

The next forum will be on the 19th April at Project B, for anyone who is aged 16-25.  This time, we’ll be discussing careers, so come ready to talk about reaching your career goals and if a career is really any different to employment.

YPInsight March Forum

Follow @YPInsight on Twitter to stay up to date with any updates or information.