It was all about goals at The Kickback on July 24th, as we thought about the goals we had and goals we could aspire to after hearing from positive, inspiring young people.
To start the conversation, I asked what a goal is. Mhairi made us all laugh with her witty response: “Where you aim in football.” Stefon then said that it was a target or aspiration, Renee described it as a destination type thing and Daisy said that it was a next step.
I then posed the question: do you set goals? Humi’s response was, “I set goals, but I divide them up… There are short-term goals and long-term goals… I think it’s important to distinguish between the two. ”
Stefon believes that it’s important to have a plan, using the quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” to back up his point. Jamie told us that he has the end destination and the bus stops to get there, while Daisy said that she has deadlines rather than goals, as she finds it difficult to hold herself accountable.
When I asked the questions of whether it is important to have leeway when working towards your goals, Renee made a really great point by saying, “We shouldn’t feel like failures for not meeting certain standards and work ethics.”
Before hearing from our speakers, I asked if anyone wanted to share their goals. Stefon wants to make a living from his passion within the next two years – “If you do what makes you happy, the money will come.” Etan’s goal was one I especially loved: “To prove people wrong in general.”
Our first speaker of the night was Renee, who founded the organisation Croydon Community Leaders (CCL). Their values are community empowerment, community engagement and community action. “We wanted to put people doing great things in Croydon on a platform,” said Renee.
CCL supports charities and non-profits, puts on events and organises campaigns, and also helps residents to engage in community matters – “We wanted to give back to the community,” Renee told us.
After asking if any of us had experiences with the police – the experiences shared were all negative – Renee told us about a new outreach programme that CCL were starting to enable members of the community to get involved and support young people, which is about getting trained in stop and search. As well as training community individuals, they would give police cultural communication training.
During the conversation, Stefon raised the point, “You touched on the relationship between black boys and police, but this is a long-term relationship between black boys and the system… How can we change the mentality of young black boys, as it’s hard for us to change the system?”
Humi also said, “As young people, and also as people, we’re not taught to communicate in the right way.” This was part of a wider and interesting conversation about the police, stop and search, and communication.
Talk then moved on to education and young black people being kicked out of schools. Jane dropped some gems on us, including, “I know how hard it is for parents to constantly be fighting. We know the goals we have for our children, but the system and institution is built to fail us… Academies that are supposed to nourish them are now failing them, because it’s a business.
“If a system wants to find fault, it will find fault, and one of the biggest faults is the colour of our skin.”
Our next speakers were Humi and Daisy, two of the founding members of What You Saying, a poetry night that takes place on the second Tuesday of each month in Croydon. “Our tag line is raw, honest and inclusive,” said Daisy. She explained that they give a safe space for artists and writers to share their work, and they also have feature artists to get more of their work out there.
Humi told us that a major reason they set up the night was because they found most poetry nights they went to were really white and middle class, or the complete opposite, and they wanted to get different people in the same space, otherwise there isn’t a way to learn from each other.
They also create opportunities for young people experiencing homelessness, as a way of trying to lift their community – “You only rise by lifting others,” Humi said. She informed us that about 90% of the young people she worked with who were experiencing homelessness were involved with crime, as a lot of them didn’t know anything else.
Humi told us that she is trying to encourage young people to express themselves in healthy ways, as some of them aren’t taught that by parents. She also made the point that society should be encouraging more young people to channel what they do into something else in a more creative way.
Etan made us all think by saying, “I’ve been told that I have potential, but… I want to hear that I have the potential and can do something else.”
Humi went on to share her experience of going into youth work, without a degree and any qualifications in youth work. “When you think about goals, you need to think about it on your own terms,” she stated.
Our final speaker of the night was Si-Ann (who also took the photos for us), a creative director and producer, who founded the creative agency, Evacreate. “Evacreate is all about evacuating your surroundings to create something new,” Si-Ann explained.
Si-Ann took us on a quick journey of her experience, giving us five tips along the way. Tip 1 was to use who is around you, as she first decided to find people who would help her make Evacreate happen, which got her interested on the impact on people’s mental health.
When working and studying at university, she wondered how she would be able to develop Evacreate, so Tip 2 was: Take inspiration from everything and learn from everything. “Everywhere you go, there is opportunity to learn and create something,” Si-Ann said.
Tip 3 was: Do milestones really matter? It’s important to know your why. When Si-Ann finished uni, she realised she hadn’t built the brand to where she wanted it to, and although there was so much she wanted to do, there were little things she could do. This led on to Tip 4: Baby steps are still walking.
When Si-Ann and here friend talked about not doing a shoot for a while, they both realised they had gone through mental health struggles, so they decided to do a shoot on mental health among creatives. They pitched it to a number of magazines, and it was eventually picked up by Afropunk, which was the one they really wanted it to be featured in.
Tip 5 was: Remember it’s not a sprint and endure the marathon. “Take your time and don’t fear failure… It’s your own path and you need to take your time with it, and do what’s best for you,” Si-Ann stressed to us. “If you don’t fear failure, when you accomplish something, you’ll feel all the better for it.”
I’m going to end with a great point made by Humi: “When we’re talking about goals, we didn’t really talk about when you stop focusing on your goal… You can work yourself up to the top and then have a break down… Goals are important, but your happiness is more important.”
With that being said, I am taking some time out to reflect, heal and take care of my mental health, so The Kickback will return in October.