Looking Back on 2018: A Year of Two Parts

For me, its been a year of two parts at Young People Insight.  Part of it was on a downer and the other part was on the up, which I think had more to do with me than the platform itself.

I struggled a lot with YPI at the early stages of this year and was ready to pack it in, shut the whole thing down once the end of July came around.  I questioned how much difference I was actually making and what the point of the platform was anymore.  I felt I had plateaued.

The saddest thing of all was that I had fallen out of love with YPI.  I didn’t want to be at my own events, I wasn’t enjoying organising them and I questioned the point of putting in work when numbers were dwindling.  It was like I was failing and carrying tirelessly on with something that was not wanted.

However, I eventually came to the realisation that this had a lot to do with me and my fragile mental state, rather than YPI itself.  Once I saw how broken I was, I decided to take some time out (particularly from YPI) to heal and make time for me.  After making that decision, it was like a weight had been lifted and I suddenly felt a lot better.

I began to enjoy my events again and found a revitalised energy, ready to put in work to take YPI to another level.  Most importantly, I found my love for it all over again.

What’s funny is that once I got a new-found energy, the events seemed to gain a lease of new-found energy as well.  The conversations at The Kickback have gotten richer and richer, which  is brilliant to witness, although it has been hellish for my hands to keep up with everything said.

There were was stand out after stand out conversation this year, delivering some stellar gems, but if I was going to choose a favourite for 2018, it would be the conversation on Peace in June.  I was slightly concerned about how a conversation on the topic of peace would go, but it ended up being amazing.  The perspectives of peace were mind-blowing and thought-provoking, definitely making me look at peace in a new light.

Poetic Insight has continued to be inspiring in 2018, with the different poets who have taken to the stage bringing a different feeling to the event each month.  I’ve already made it known that my favourite for 2018 was last month’s event, when some beautiful young people blew me away with their bravery and honesty.

I already cannot wait to see what will come from The Kickback and Poetic Insight next year, especially as the YP Insight Family continues to expand and strengthen.  I think that the conversations are going to get even deeper and richer, and I know that more inspiring, brave young people will bring their poetic talents to the stage.

I also love that we’ll have a brand new logo, designed by a young person, going into the new year, revamping the YPI brand, which I have been wanting to do for so long.  This is definitely a major step in moving YPI forward, which you all have been a part of.  I can’t wait to announce the winner next week.

But what I am really, really excited about is how YPI is going to develop as a whole in 2019.  The team is finally going to expand, beyond little me.  I’m going to have even more great support behind me, advising me along the way.  I’ve also started planning from now and have some fresh ideas in mind that I cannot wait to start executing, as it is going to take this platform to new heights and do even more to empower young people.

It’s going to be great for young people, it’s going to be great for creatives and it’s going to be great for Croydon.  Watch this space.

What’s Coming Up This December?

We’ve made it to the final month of 2018, which means a quieter month for Young People Insight as we begin to wind down for the year, despite all of the planning going on behind the scenes.  2019 is set to be exciting, but let’s just get through December first.

Our logo competition came to a close last night, so now the hard process of choosing the winner begins.  We had some great submissions and I greatly appreciated the thought that had been put in by the different designers, but there can only be three on the shortlist (I will highlight all of the entries in another post).

Logo Design 1

 

Logo Design 2

 

Logo Design 3

As I always say, I don’t want this platform to be all about me, so it is imperative that you are involved in the decisions made and continuing development.  With that said, it is your votes that will decide the winner, so have a look at the three designs and cast your vote by leaving a comment, sending a DM on social media or just sending an email to youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com.

I am keeping the designers completely anonymous to keep the decision-making as impartial as possible.  If you happen to know who designed one of these logos, please do not reveal their identity, as it could lead to their disqualification

The winner will be announced on December 18th at our final event of the year, then on social media and in a blog post.

That’s right, we’ve come to our final event of 2018 already – it seems like we were celebrating our 2nd birthday in January only recently.  The Kickback will be joining with Poetic Insight for our annual ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’ event.

This event is essential for the growth and development of Young People Insight, as this is when you tell me what topics you would like to see discussed at The Kickback, what themes would like for Poetic Insight, what worked well over the year and what can be improved for the next year.  There are things that you might pick up on, which I would never consider.

There will be poetry on the night as well, with no set theme, giving you free rein for the first time since January.  If you want to share your poetry or spoken word, email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or you can simply sign up on the night.

We’ll be back at the gorgeous Urban XChange Bar & Grill from 6.30-9.30pm, so be sure to get the details in your diary to avoid missing out on this special event.  Sign up for free here: bit.ly/lookingback-movingforward-2018

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite logo design, and I hope to see as many of your beautiful faces as possible at the final event for 2018 – it is you guys who make this platform amazing.  Be sure to tell a friend too, as we love welcoming new faces with a big smile.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

Bravery Shown at a Special Poetic Insight

There are instances at Young People Insight that truly blow me away and make all the work I put in feel more worthwhile than anything in the world.  This month’s Poetic Insight was one of those.

On November 27th, Poetic Insight came to Urban XChange Bar and Grill for the first time, which I was excited but slightly concerned about.  I was concerned people would go to the wrong venue or get lost.  I was also sick, so I did not want to come out on a cold rainy evening either (I’m just keeping it real), but I am beyond glad I did.

This immediately became one of my favourite ever Poetic Insights, filling me with emotion, pride and wonder.  It made me not only proud to be a young person, but proud of the safe space I have been able to create over the years that incites bravery in young people and encourages them to open up in amazing ways.

The theme of the night was Survival, and returning poet Antonia was first to step onstage, sharing a deep poem about the pain that can come from a romantic relationship and surviving through loving yourself.  Chantae also returned after last month, starting with a poem called Olivia’s Theory, which was in response to a friend, followed by Broken Stopwatch, both brought to life through her beautiful words.

Beverly has been to some of The Kickback sessions, but this was her first time on the Poetic Insight stage.  Despite her nerves, she shared an emotion-fulled poem about pain and vulnerabilities in relationships.

Script Index came to our poetry night for the first time, all the way from West London, to draw us in with his wonderful delivery of True Flow.  Next up was now regular Poetic Insight attendee, but first timer on our stage, Destiny, who shared thought-provoking poems about mental health and an empowering poem about how lit she is.

The following three poets were all extremely brave, raw and openly vulnerable with us on the night, taking to our stage for the first time and wowing all of us.  They were a big part of why this Poetic Insight immediately became one of my favourites.

Emma is the perfect example of why I started Young People Insight.  When I met her on the night, she told me that she wrote poems but was nervous about performing, although she was thinking about it.  She then decided to sign up to perform, but told me she would be going onstage with a friend.  By the time she got onstage, she was willing to stand there on her own and lay herself bare by reading a poem called Mum Break Me The Most.

She was followed by Ingrid, the friend who was supposed to take to the stage with Emma, who also laid herself bare by sharing a deep poem about surviving trauma.  In the poem, she referred to herself as a victim, but I made the point of saying that she is no victim – she is a survivor.

Then it was Adam, who was wrestling with the thought of performing when he got to Poetic Insight as well, telling me that he wanted to perform but was scared.  I encouraged him to think it through, as there is nothing worse than getting onstage when you are half-hearted about it.  In spite of his nerves, he read an amazingly open poem, about consent and sex.

The final poet on stage was the returning Kane Adams (he performed under Adam’s Son last month).  He finished the night not only with some powerful micro poems, but he also provided words of wisdom, which were especially for the “younger” young people in attendance, although I think we all took something from them.  The moments that break away from poetry, while also reaching out to others, are some of my favourites at Poetic Insight.

It was a truly special night, which reminded me of why I set up Young People Insight all over again and why it needs to keep going for the long haul.  I can’t wait to see what more future events will bring.

Poetic Insight will join with The Kickback on December 18th for our final event of the year, when we’ll be ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’.  We’ll be at Urban XChange Bar & Grill ( 1 Lansdowne Rd, Croydon CR9 2BN) from 6.30-9.30pm, so save the date, as you do not want to miss it.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

What makes a healthy relationship? – Part 2

We were talking Healthy Relationships at The Kickback on November 20th, which led to a great conversation with so much said that I had split the write-up into two parts.  Part 1 provided insight into our thoughts on what relationships are, what makes them healthy and the idea of agape love.

After speaking about what we think makes a relationship healthy, I asked the question, what do you do when your relationship becomes unhealthy?  For this question, I wanted everyone’s answer to be what they personally do, rather than what they think you should do.

Rhianna told us, “I look for what’s going wrong between me and the person, to see where the fault lies.”  However, Gus feels like the relationship was essentially unhealthy in the beginning, to which Mhairi asked, “What do you do when your relationship with yourself becomes unhealthy?”  Gus responded by saying that he thinks the only thing you can address is your own past.

Tanica shared that she is a massive mover of energy, so she tends to mediate and as she meditates, she breaks down what is going on internally with herself and what’s going on internally with the other person.  Then she will approach them diplomatically and let them know how she feels.

Elisha believes that if a relationship is bad, then you should leave it, while Mhairi said, “I just think everyone needs a time out sometimes.”

Lisa threw in the question, “How do you know when a relationship has become unhealthy?”  Rhianna said, “I’m aware of myself and my emotions in my body.  I’ll feel it in my stomach.”  Mhairi thinks that some people can be oblivious, and Gus thinks that it is about understanding.

I said that I know when someone starts draining me, which I felt strongly with my last boyfriend.  Gus went on to make the interesting point of how the relationship between a mother and their child can be draining, as children can drain their mother.

Next, I referred to the Twitter thread that I wrote a blog post in response to last week and asked to hear what everyone’s thoughts on it were.  Rhianna instantly stated that she agreed with it, and Gus said, “I sympathise with that… In a lot of instances, a no does mean convince me.”  He later went on to say, “I think the problem is that women want the man to be assertive, but to what point or what detriment.”

Rhianna thinks it also depends on the person that it’s happening to, but that it doesn’t justify the way a lot of guys act.  Elisha made the point of saying, “People also pressure,” while Lisa strongly said, “Own your no.”

This got on to a discussion about the murkiness of consent and what consent may or may not look like.  “Why is the onus on women to be assertive and someone that they’re not in certain situations?” Lisa asked.  Mhairi also said, “Under pressure or trauma, you can’t always portray what you want to.”

This month, The Kickback was linked to the White Ribbon Campaign, which is a movement to end male violence against women and girls, so we spent some time speaking about this.  I started by asking, “Why do you think men are violent towards women and girls?”

To provide some background on her answer, Mhairi spoke about the Channel 4 documentary series, Woman, saying that it can be used as a military tactic to break down women, as well as it coming from a place of power, control, money ideas and hatred of women.

Gus really made us all think when he said, “The issue isn’t the men attacking the women.  It’s what’s inside the men. Men are attacking each other… To get to the root of it, you have to understand why men are the way they are.”

As someone who knows men who have been violent towards women, Tanica believes that it comes down to a variety of factors – “Sometimes it’s broken down to religious factors.  Sometimes its culture.  Sometimes its upbringing.”

Lisa said, “There are men who are violent to everybody, and there are men who direct their violence to their partners and no one else, because they know they’ll get away with it.  In their environment, they’ll have power and control.”

I then asked, how do you think we can put an end to violence against women and girls?  Elisha thinks it’s good to talk to the police and let them sort things out, while Mhairi thinks the only thing that is helping is grass-roots communities and groups.

Gus feels that men go for women, because they assume they’re more vulnerable, but if she turns round and kicks him in the head, he’s less likely to attack her.  However, the idea of fighting back makes Lisa nervous – “When we cut out the need to even have self-defense classes, then I feel we’re on the right path.”  Lisa thinks the key is education and awareness.

My final question was, how can we have more healthy relationships?  I’ll leave you with the two responses: Mhairi said, “A shift in society” and Gus said, “A shift in oneself.”

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram and liking Young People Insight.

What makes a healthy relationship? – Part 1

The conversation at The Kickback on November 20th was all about Healthy Relationships, which I knew was going to be a great conversation, but I wasn’t prepared for how great it was going to be.  There was a whole lot of ground covered and a whole lot we couldn’t even get to – we genuinely needed another hour.  With so much said, I’m going to split what we spoke about into two parts, so that your brain doesn’t get too frazzled.

We were joined by Lisa from Tender, which is an arts charity currently in Croydon for two years.  Their focus is on healthy relationships and talking about what domestic abuse is.  “Our aim is to end violence against women and men,” Lisa said.  Tender uses creative ways to talk about relationships with young people, particularly drama – “Drama is an interesting tool to open up that conversation.”

After Lisa’s introduction, I began with the question, what is a relationship?  Gus’ response was a “connection between two people, but that may not even be a thing,” which Mhairi backed up by saying that it could be with yourself.

Mhairi also shared that she was thinking about addictions and things that are unhealthy when Gus spoke about having relationships with things.  Lisa took this further when she told us that she hears a lot of children speaking about their relationship with gaming.

When I asked, what makes a relationship healthy, Mhairi said that “most of the time, a healthy relationship is mutually beneficial.”  Gus counteracted this by saying that with a mother, you can give a lot and not necessarily get a lot back.

Tanica’s initial response was agape love – “You don’t ask for anything in return.  Everything comes from the heart.”  This led to extended  time speaking about agape love, as well as our relationships with family and friends.

Mhairi asked, “How often do we see agape love?”  Glenn said, “With family, it’s quite common, but with friends and other people, you’re not really gonna see it.”  However, Tanica shared that her friends have passed that hand of friendship and they are like family – “That’s where I see the love.”

I spoke about my confusion concerning the concept of family, not feeling that some of my blood family members actually felt like family at all, but that there are friends of mine who have become family and I literally see them as blood.

Mhairi feels like “family is very changeable” and that there are many aspects to family in the 21st Century that allow us to bring others in easily.  Lisa also shared, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that I’ve sort of created my own family… Like, what’s the definition anymore?”

Gus believes that the only way you know its unconditional love is if you’re put through the hardships with that person.  Lisa also thinks that “there’s something about the dynamics of different relationships and it’s important to separate… I don’t think unconditional love comes into romantic relationships.  I would gage them differently to my other relationships.

Other responses about what makes a relationship healthy included:

  • Balance – Rhianna
  • Accountability – Joan
  • Communication – Lisa
  • Understanding – Tanica
  • Respect and trust – Elisha
  • Lessons.  “Someone has to teach me something and I have to teach them something.” – Mhairi
  • Common interests.  “Sometimes we’re just coming together for the sake of coming together.” – Jennifer

Jennifer also said that you’ve got to love yourself how you want to be loved.  On the other hand, Mhairi believes that “some people don’t know what self-love is and still get married and stuff…  I think the idea of self-love has become very confusing.”  This led on to a whole other discussion about self-love, which was getting very deep and looking to go the distance, so I decided to give it a night of its own and we’ll be talking Self-Love in February next year.

Look out for Part 2, so you can get the full picture of our conversation and what was said when we spoke about relationships getting unhealthy, consent and violence against women.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram and liking Young People Insight.

Does your no mean no?

As I was scrolling through Twitter one day this week, I came across a tweet that forced me to do a double take and give my full attention to process what it was saying.

Once I fully deeped what I had read, I found myself nodding in agreement and seriously thinking about what had been written, as these types of situations lead to toxicity and a warped way of thinking.  In my mind it was bringing up consent and healthy relationships, which is the theme of The Kickback next week.  It also made me consider the importance of the word ‘no’ and how the meaning of this word has become blurred in certain contexts.

From my own personal experience, I have seen how the word ‘no’ has become blurred, being faced with the question of, “Does your no actually mean no, or does it mean yes?”  I was taken aback when asked this and confused about how this simple word, with such a clear meaning, had become so misconstrued.

I asked myself that if this particular individual was thinking this way, then how many males were thinking the same way as him?  It’s no wonder that when some females say no, and are not particularly forceful when saying it, that certain males nod and continue to proceed with going further in an intimate situation.  A line is quickly crossed, without some men perhaps not even realising they are doing it.

Not that ignoring the word ‘no’ and not getting consent is ever excusable, but it is easy to see how some men may think that it is okay to continue, in their thinking that the word ‘no’ is part of the foreplay.  If some women begin to change the context of the word, who’s to say that all of them have not changed the context of the word?

This is something that we need to be very careful of, because it is not healthy and it certainly is not safe.  Being intimate with anyone is a big step and clear boundaries need to be set out.

Another factor that arises from this is communication and the importance of effective communication, which is key to the health and success of any type of relationship.  It is said that only a small percentage of communication is verbal, with the majority coming from body language and from tone of voice.

Although ‘no’ should only mean ‘no’ in an intimate situation, it is important to understand the body language and tone of the person saying no.  Even if a person is under the belief that no is a form of foreplay, there should be a level of awareness to see if the person saying no looks fearful or uncomfortable, or is perhaps stiffening up or reclining away.  Just because someone may have been enjoying a certain level of intimacy with before, it does not mean that they want to go all the way – there should be no obligation.

When we begin to blur the lines and confuse the context of sex or even relationships as a whole, this is when problems begin to occur and situations can become dangerous for all involved.  This is what I find often leads to situations that are not necessarily rape, but are very rape-like and bordering on sexual assault – again, the lines are so unclear that I am not even sure how to label or describe them.

We need to be upfront with our words, set out clear boundaries, communicate effectively and respect the individual, especially when engaging in romantic and sexual relationships.  I believe this will help us to build foundations of healthy relationships as a whole.

We’ll be taking the topic of Healthy Relationships further at The Kickback on Tuesday 20th November.  Raise your points and join the conversation at Project B (1 Bell Hill, Croydon, CR0 1FB) from 6.30-8.30pm.  I would love to hear what you have to say.

What’s Coming Up This November?

We’re already very much into November, which is looking like a quieter month for Young People Insight.  It actually feels weird to only have our two traditional events coming up, with nothing else in store, but it’s nice for things to be a little calmer as we prepare to wind down for the year.

First up, we have the return of The Kickback on its usual third Tuesday.  We’re going to be talking Healthy Relationships, with a focus on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and also violence against women and girls.  We’re going to have a special guest from the arts charity, Tender, to lead out on the conversation with us.

Make sure you’ve got November 20th saved in your diary, rather than November 13th, as I made the mistake of saying at our latest event.  We’ll be back at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm, for more great conversations and more snacks.  You can sign up for free here: bit.ly/letstalkhealthyrelationships

Then a week later, Poetic Insight will be back, but in a brand new home.  We’ll be bringing more inspiring poetry and spoken word to you from Urban XChange Bar & Grill, which is still in Croydon Town Centre and even nearer to East Croydon train station.

This month’s theme is Survival, which I think is going to be powerful and very interesting.  If you want to share your poetry or spoken word, email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or you can simply sign up on the night.  Just be sure to be at Urban XChange Bar & Grill from 7-9pm so you don’t miss out.  Get your free tickets now: bit.ly/poeticinsight-survival

We’re in for another month of powerful events, set to inform and inspire.  Be sure to tell a friend to tell a friend, as we love welcoming new faces – a big smile is always in store.  Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.