Discussing Relationships at the YP Insight Forum

“A form of communication”; “a bond”; “happiness”; “a form of love”.  These were some of the thoughts young people had of what a relationship is, as relationships (with a focus on women) was the point of discussion at the Young People Insight forum on July 19th.

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We starting by talking about what we think makes a healthy relationship, with responses that included:

  • Communication and honesty
  • Loyalty and trust
  • Not basing it on looks
  • Connection and attraction
  • Respect
  • Same goals.

I then threw in the question of why are so many people in unhealthy relationships, which brought a variety of answers:

  • Bad forms of communication
  • Fear of being alone and trust issues
  • Unresolved issues from relationships
  • People being too clingy and controlling.

This brought up the problem of insecurity and the query of why so many of us are so insecure.  Alana, 21, gave a great response, expressing that we need to learn to love ourselves 100% and bring happiness to ourselves, rather than relying on external factors.

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Andrae, 25 believes that “communication is the key” to relationships, but why do so many of us struggle with effective communication?  Andrae thinks that it’s because some individuals don’t want to hurt the other’s feelings, while Alana thinks that some people are afraid to open up and show their true selves.

Rhianna, 21, believes that it stems from trust issues as if you have trust issues, you might not be able to talk properly or you don’t really want to have to explain yourself.  Andrae also brought up social media – “Instagram plays a big part” – and Sh’kira, 22, made a good point about lots of people having their own different issues.  She said that people are in their own worlds and their own minds most of the time.

Asking how we improve the way we communicate proved to be a very difficult question to answer, as communication seemed to be something that most of the young people struggled with and wanted to improve themselves.

I kicked off that part of the discussion, which eventually resulted in some good solutions:

  • Talking more in person, not just on cyber
  • Being more mature and feeling able to talk about your issues
  • Having workshops and focus groups
  • Don’t watch TV for a month – “Your whole concept of relationships will be new”
  • Respect yourself.

One of my favourite points of the evening was made by Alana, when I asked why we struggle to communicate – she said that we’re living in a technological age where “people are communicating with emojis”.

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This month, there was a special focus on women and relationships, adding a little more depth to the discussion.  We started by discussing why females are objectified and pressured into certain behaviours to “get a man”, which sparked off an interesting dialogue.

Alana stated that “It’s a man’s world” and that women are being seen as toys or things to be used.  However, Andrae thinks that it’s because of the way a women dress, but Billie, 24, strongly expressed that “it’s insulting to think that people don’t think you dress for yourself.”

Rhianna thinks that some women feel like they have to act a certain way, while Billie added that “it’s all to do with money and consumerism.”  There was also the important point of males trying to have more control with less effort, wanting females to come to them and do whatever they want them to do.

When asked why some females portray themselves in a certain way to get male attention and affection, Alana said insecurity and the pressure that they have to be sexually active all the time.  Rhianna made the brilliant point that a lot of women are confusing attention for affection, and Alana also thinks that it’s because they’re not getting affection from the places they need it.

I then posed the question, as women, what do we associate affection with?  Responses included:

  • Being in close proximity with a person
  • A guy paying for you on the first date
  • Being shown that you have his attention
  • Showing that you really care
  • Intimacy and physical affection (not sex, but touching).

Finally, I asked how we can develop healthy relationships, which resulted in some really nice answers.  They were:

  • Communicating more – Andrae
  • Getting to know yourself, loving yourself better and forgiveness – Alana
  • In terms of friendships, people understanding boundaries and learning not to blur lines – Rhianna
  • Surrounding yourself with positive people and not watching certain programmes – Randy, 21
  • Being in tune with God – Sh’kira
  • Experience – Billie

The next forum will be Relationships Part 2 with a special focus on the men, at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm on August 16th.  You definitely won’t want to miss it, so tell a friend to tell a friend.

Follow @YPInsight on Twitter or like Young People Insight on Facebook for any updates.

Attending the Youth Violence Commission Launch

“You see, identity has been lost along the way.”  These were some of the first words by Tony Supreme, who delivered a spoken word piece to help kick-start the launch of the Youth Violence Commission, which I had the opportunity to attend on the 12th July at London South Bank University.

Just like Kyle mentioned at last month’s forum on violent crime, identity is one of the factors that has been picked up on in relation to youth violence.  However, there are so many more and the Youth Violence Commission wants to get to the root of that.  “What we wanna try and achieve here is the first of its kind,” said Executive Director Ian McInnes.

“The Youth Violence Commission has been established to work with young people, communities and experts, from around the UK, to explore insights and public opinion, with the aim of better understanding how violence manifests in young lives, its drivers and how we can work together to stop young people from disappearing from our streets too soon.”

Despite not being funded or controlled by government, the Youth Violence Commissioners are six MPs: Chuka Umunna, James Cleverly, Mark Field, Greg Mulholland, Chris Stephens and Vicky Foxcroft, who started the Commission.

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Vicky was inspired to start the Commission when she was knocking on doors and someone asked her what she was doing about gangs and youth violence.  She can see that all the acts of youth violence have had an effect on those left behind – “Trauma is being suffered on an industrial scale.”  Vicky believes that it’s an “absolute moral responsibility” for us to look into finding solutions.

Vicky raised many points that I agree with and have stressed in the past, which made me engage even more with the Commission.  She brought up the point that the wider community must be listened to; she asked , “Why don’t we have enough positive images of young people out there?” and expressed that by working together, we can find a solution.

We were able to hear from the rest of the Commissioners in their speeches and a Q&A session, which brought up many interesting insights and comments on an issue that has been spoken about often.

Mark Field MP stressed that if we see violent crime as just a black issue, or even just a youth issue, then we are making a huge mistake, while Chuka Umunna MP thinks that it is an issue of health and well-being, particularly mental health.  One of my favourite points was made by Chris Stephens MP, who passionately said that if young people’s voices aren’t being listened to, then shout louder and make sure we’re heard.

We not only heard from the Commissioners, but we heard from some inspiring and charismatic young people who will be working with the Commission.  The first young speaker we heard from was Ebi Iyere, who grew up in Lambeth and left home at 15 – “Growing up in South London isn’t easy… you see a lot of deaths” she said.

Ebi delivered a few home-truths to us, saying that youth violence being just a gang problem and a male problem is far-fetched.  “Youth violence has been institutionalised,” she says.  She also deeply conveyed that “Young people are hurting out there”, and that if we’re going to talk about them and describe them, we need to remember that they’re children and that they’re human.

While Ebi delivered some home truths, Temi Mwale, CEO and founder of The 4Front Project, well and truly schooled us on the issue of youth violence.  One of the main points of focus in Temi’s speech was the term “gang” – “We don’t understand it, but we’re quick to form a picture of what a gang member looks like in our brain.”

Despite starting her organisation at the age of 16, Temi stopped using the term gang when she was 18.  She told us that when we use it, we don’t mean people harm, but others in the community see it as meaning them harm.  Temi also revealed that using the term gang shows those young people that we don’t understand the complexity of their situation – “We’re quick to label people when we don’t understand the circumstances of their life.”

Temi also flipped the subject of fear on its head.  She said that when young black men open the paper, they’re scared of young black men too, which is something that many of us don’t stop to consider.  “We’re scared of each other,” Temi bluntly told us.

Temi also raised certain factors that are glossed over far too often:  she mentioned our society’s problem of glamourising violence, newspapers dehumanising young people, and the need to address the issues of capitalism to address youth violence.

Youth violence is a complex and very broad issue, that cannot be confined to just one root cause or one solution.  It is going to take a lot of hard work together as a community to stop it, but the launch of the Youth Violence Commission has taken another step towards making that happen.

Being a part of the day was a great experience and I gained a heap of knowledge that I not only intend to take forward in my youth work, but hope to feed back into the Commission.  By working together, we can make a real effort to end youth violence.

Info for July’s Young People Insight Forum

Relationships, relationships, relationships.  I had to get an emphasis on that word, because it is such a hot topic amongst young people.  We spend countless hours thinking about relationships, stressing over relationships, talking about relationships and getting into relationships.

Yet the question is, are we really as clued up as we should be when it comes to relationships?  Are we getting into relationships for the right reasons and when we do get into a relationship, do we even know what we’re doing?  Are our relationships healthy and do we know what is required in a healthy relationship?

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Photo by stokpic and used under Creative Commons License.

There are a whole number of questions that many of us probably don’t know the answer to, but we find ourselves getting into relationships anyway, when we’re not ready or lacking the maturity.  This can lead to a number of problems, resulting in us hurting ourselves and others, which then leads on to us carrying a ton of baggage.

This month, we’re going to be talking about relationships, touching on communication and what we think a healthy relationship should entail.  This discussion will also have a special focus on women, questioning why women are objectified and pressured into particular behaviours by men, but also why some women portray themselves in a certain way to get male affection and attention.

Young People Insight Forum- Project B

If you’re 16-25, you won’t want to miss the Young People Insight forum on Tuesday 19th July from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B (1 Bell Hill, Croydon CR0 1FB).  Come down and speak your mind, munch on some snacks and meet new people.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter or liking Young People Insight on Facebook .

Discussing Violent Crime at the Young People Insight Forum

“This youth on youth violence is crazy now.  It needs to stop.”  This simple, yet impactful statement, was the reasoning behind this month’s youth forum.  Far too many young lives are being snatched away by pointless acts, which leave a trail of heartbreak behind.

On June 21st, we met in Project B to discuss violent crime and of course, try to come up with solutions to the problem.  In order to gain some deeper insight, we were joined by Fenella and Pat from JAGS Foundation, as well as Bilal from One Minute in May.

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JAGS is an acronym for James Andre Godfrey Smartt-Ford, a 17-year-old who was shot at Streatham Ice Skating Rink during a party in 2007.  He was one of 27 young people under the age of 20 who lost their lives to gun and knife crime in that year.  His mum, Tracey, founded JAGS Foundation in 2012 “to raise awareness of the consequences of youth murder and address issues affecting young people”, providing bereavement support, youth awareness and restorative justice based programmes.

The ‘One Minute in May’ campaign was set up to “confront the ever-growing threat of knife and gun crime.”  It was started by Tracy Cumberpatch in 2006 (with the help of Wayne Campbell) in remembrance of her 15-year-old son, Kiyan Prince, who lost his life after being stabbed while trying to break up a fight in May 2006.  ‘One Minute in May’ aims to hold a vigil on a particular day during May every year, with a dedicated silence and a balloon release (or doves) to represent all the lives lost to youth violence.

When discussing why violent crime has become so frequent and where some of the issues stem from, there was a wide variety of responses, which is what makes the main source of youth violence so hard to pin down and solutions so difficult to put into place.

Fenella believes that it is because of things that are easy to get access of and because a lot of youths are pressured.  However, 24-year-old Kyle took it a little deeper, expressing that “it stems from a lack of awareness and a lack of knowledge, and identity.”

Kyle also added the factor of social conditioning from what goes on outside, as parents don’t always have the awareness of what their child is like once they step out the door.  He thinks that some children detach themselves from their parents, because they don’t have that emotional support.

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Jason, 24, believes that a lot of young adults don’t love themselves, especially young black boys – “A lot of them are actually killing themselves when they stab someone else.”  Mohamed, 20, added to that point, saying, “If you learn to love yourself, you won’t hurt someone else.”

Next, we spoke about why the actions and initiatives put in place by the police and the government haven’t worked.  Fenella says “they’re talking to the wrong people”, 25-year-old Andrae thinks they “always use the same tactics” and Bilal believes that it’s revenue for certain things.  Pat said: “If they wanted something to stop, it would stop.”

Jason took it even further by saying that he doesn’t think anyone cares, although he does think the community cares – “Only we can change it,” said Pat in response to Jason.  Mohamed also added that it’s about developing a relationship between parents and children.

This led on to the discussion of what part we think the community has to play.  Kyle believes “we’ve got to work together”, which Fenella agreed with, saying that “we’re all aiming for the same thing.”  Pat also added that you can’t do it alone, as one person can’t solve the problem.

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Rhianna, 20, strongly expressed that there needs to be a lot more education of life skills and she later said, “Stop telling [young people] you have to know what you want to do by 16.”  Mohamed later backed up her point by saying that it’s not a bad thing if you don’t know what you want to do with your future at a young age.

Finally, I asked the question of how violent crime can be prevented.  Fenella and Pat’s first and strongest point of focus was on going into the schools.  Pat says that it’s about catching the issues early, and that it’s best to reach vulnerable young people in schools, because they’re unlikely to reach out to a service.  She also believes that it’s about being consistent and persistent in what we’re doing.

Mohamed believes that it’s about making the message more clear, while Jason thinks that we need to make forums and programmes that are aimed at young people cool, so they will feel inclined to attend.  He also thinks that it’s about getting the right type of high-profile individual who will speak out about it.

However, Chinelo, 18, later brought up passive and active audiences, saying that many young people aren’t going to listen until they’ve actually experienced it for themselves.  Yet like Mohamed, I think that “sometimes it takes a young person to make another young person understand.”

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The next forum will be on July 19th at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm, when we’ll be discussing relationships with a special focus on women.  You won’t want to miss it.

Follow @YPInsight on Twitter or like Young People Insight on Facebook for any updates.