It’s Time for Young People to Rise Up & Make Change

Last week, it was reported that 72% of 18-24 year olds came out to vote in the General Election.  The youth voice appeared to play a huge hand in the results, in which the Conservative Party lost their majority and culminated in a hung Parliament.

Young people were more engaged in this election and its results than I’d ever seen them before, having their say on politics and who they wanted to run the country.  This probably had a lot to do with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, doing a great job in relating to young people and grime doing a stellar job of engaging young people.

However, young people began to find their own voice along the way and they were calling out for change on issues that effected them, because there are numerous factors effecting our lives that are intertwined with politics, even if we may not be interested in politics directly.  This includes getting on the housing ladder, benefits, mental health services, policies to address violent crime, education and a whole lot more.  We were stating that we want change.

Yet I must ask the question to all my young people out there, if you want change, what are you personally going to do about it?  Yes, you may have made your voice heard by casting a vote in the election, which is great, but what part are you going to play in creating change in community and society?

After the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, which has brought austerity measures to the fore in the most tragic way, young people have not been silenced and the way everyone has united to come together has been amazing.  On Twitter, I have seen numerous posts from young individuals demanding that the government and the “more powerful” individuals in society to be held into account, as austerity seems to have played a major part in this tragedy.

However, if we want to create real, lasting change then we as young people need to unite and do more than posting on Twitter, which some do and has definitely been the case during the Grenfell Tower incident, but it needs to be a much wider number.  Let’s create programmes, initiatives and movements that will allow us to become the change we need to see.  Let’s work together to challenge policies.  Let’s come together to topple the system, because that is definitely at the heart of the problem.

More and more, I’m beginning to realise that wider society and the powers that be want to keep young people down, and keep us silenced.  But if this election has taught me one thing, it is that we can’t, no, we refuse to be silenced anymore.

Young people are intelligent, clued up and full of potential, speaking raw, honest truth that is sometimes difficult for others to hear.  Our elders could learn as much from us as we can from them, but they need to stop putting us down or brushing us off and take the time to listen.

However, we also need to do more to make them hear us and make more movements so that they will genuinely take us seriously.  So keep making your voice heard, but shout louder.  Keep tweeting, but also make movements away from the screen.  Let’s do more to come together, and we can make real change happen.

The Importance of Love in Young People Insight

As you my already know, it’s all about love this month at Young People Insight, with love being at the centre of the topics for our forum and poetry night.

Despite love being the focus of our topics for February, love is at the core of Young People Insight all throughout the year.  It is my love for young people and love for my borough of Croydon that pushed me to start the platform in the first place.  It is my love for writing that led to me starting this blog.  It is my love for people that makes me want to care for them, encourage them and watch them be the best we can be.

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

I want love to run through the veins of YP Insight, spreading other positive elements and characteristics that will make our communities happier, safer and more civil places to live in.

Out of love for one another should come respect, especially when an individual shares views that are different to ours.  Respect, especially respect for life, is something that has been lost in our society and we need to work hard to get it back.

Love should lead to positive and effective communication, as we take time to listen to each other and respond accordingly, in a calm and civilised manner.  Poor communication has led to a myriad of problems within society, our relationships and other aspects of life – we need to do all we can to fix that.

I want YP Insight to be empathetic and caring, providing a genuine listening ear and support to all young individuals.  I want it to be patient and understanding, tolerant and kind.  It should create an environment where every individual feels comfortable, accepted and part of something.

Although this is a month where love is the focus, I want love to continue to be of the highest importance all year round, as there always needs to be more love in the world.  Don’t you think?

Not the New Normal

“Oh no, not another one,”

“It’s happened again,”

And again.

And again.

And again.

15-year-old stabbed to death yards from school gates,

Business studies student stabbed to death near university halls,

Teenager stabbed in chicken shop,

16-year-old stabbed in the head yards from secondary school;

Teenager stabbed,

Teenager stabbed to death,

Young person stabbed,

Young person stabbed to death.

Stabbed,

Stabbed,

Stabbed,

Fills the headlines,

Not seeming to go away;

Increasing

Rather than decreasing,

Respect for life

Continuing to disintegrate.

Wielding knives somehow popular,

Knife crime and violent crime

On the rise;

What authorities have tried

Clearly not working,

Leaving more families

With crying eyes.

Too many precious lives

Stolen away in their prime,

Unable to fulfill their potential,

Get their full quota of time;

Yet somehow our society

Has become desensitized,

Barely batting an eyelid

At the loss of a young life,

As if it’s somehow normalised.

Nothing about it is normal,

Such violence is sick and sad,

Leading to further trauma,

Making our streets war zones,

Bleak and bad;

Time for society to snap out of it,

Click your fingers and wake up,

What happens to these young lives

Effects every one of us;

These are our communities,

Our streets,

Our voices for the future;

The more it increases,

The more it intensifies,

The more it draws nearer;

Getting closer to home,

Closer to your son

Or closer to your brother,

Because one day

It could be you looking up

Seeing your loved one in a newspaper.

P1120510 2

Discussing Sex at the YP Insight Forum

On October 18th, it was time to talk all about sex.  From the very beginning, it was interesting to see how different our thought processes were when it came to sex, whether it was the word sex itself or who we thought were the sexiest individuals.

As part of a warm-up to the discussion, I got everyone to reveal who they thought was the sexiest individual.  Personally, mine was Mikey from Cycle 22 of America’s Next Top Model, but others included Alicia Keys, Bradley Cooper, Meagan Good, Rami Malek and Taraji P. Henson.

dsc_0772

After getting everyone warmed up, I hit them with the first question: What does sex mean to you?  Responses included:

  • Making babies
  • Intercourse, relationships and spirit counts
  • Feelings, love and happiness – “You shouldn’t really do it if you’re not happy”

However, 25-year-old Hakeem says that it depends on the occasion, as it means a lot more if you’re with the person.  Alana, 22, thinks that sex is very conditional and she does not believe in sex until marriage, as she thinks that when you have intercourse with someone, you’re absorbing their energy and you’re bound to them.

When asked if sex was expected when getting involved with someone, it led to a conversation on having sex with someone the first day you meet them.  Kyle said, “I hear you’re considered a ho, but how do you define she’s a ho?”  Andrae responded by saying, “I think a ho is about the actions you take.”  Alana added that it depends on your mindset – “Are you coming into it just to have sex or a relationship?”

Andrae later posed the question: Do you think you can have casual sex with a person and take them out, but with no romantic strings attached?  It was a question some of us found ourselves a little confused by, but definitely left us divided.  Some of us thought it couldn’t happen and it would not be sustainable, while others thought that it could work.  “That’s a dangerous path to go on,” Alana said.

My next question was, why has our society become so sexualised?  The main responses I received was the media – “Every film you watch these days has sex in it” – and music.  “Sex sells,” says Andrae.

dsc_0774

You can’t talk about sex without mentioning sex education, so the next point of discussion was what our experiences with sex education were like.  Immediately, 24-year-old Kyle’s response was, “It wasn’t.”  Andrae believes, “They teach what they think we should know and not what we want to know.”

The experience was very different for Jes, 25, who said, “I went to an all-girls school and they taught us that men are bad.”  Another young person told us that they learn about sex education the wrong way through the internet, by accidentally accessing a pornography site.

I then asked how young people can get better educated on sex.  Kyle first said parents, but then he added that everyone needs to put their contribution in, including schools, aunties and uncles.  On the other hand, Alana thinks that young girls should be shown a video of a woman giving birth to scare them off having sex altogether.

Once I had provided some information from the report by the Women and Equalities Committee that exposed the ‘widespread’ sexual harassment and violence in schools, I posed the question: Why has sexual harassment and violence become so widespread in schools?

Some thought that this had always been the case and were not surprised by the statistics.  “Social media brings it more to limelight now,” says Kyle.  Jes thinks that it’s getting more extreme and Darnell says that you don’t know what the young people are involved in.

dsc_0773

After touching on pornography, following a question that 24-year-old Jason asked, we spoke a little about why some males feel it’s okay to pressure females into sex.  Jes thinks that it’s because of power issues and ego, but Darnell took it a step further and said that it’s like rape.  This led on to a debate on the differentiation between pressure and force – “Force and pressure are two different things,” said Jason.  “If you force someone to do what they don’t want to do, it’s rape,” says Kyle.

Finally, I asked: How do you think young people can develop healthier sexual relationships?  The replies included:

  • Knowing themselves
  • Talk about it – “We should talk about it more.  I don’t understand why it’s taboo”
  • More equality between males and female
  • Thinking about what you’re doing.

Jes later shared some information on a project she’s been working on.  It involves creating a video game for street kids in Bangladesh to educate them on STIs and sexual violence, as they don’t have adequate knowledge of sexual health and what a healthy sexual relationship is.

She also asked us if we thought it would be a good idea for children and young people living in the UK, which we all seemed to agree on – sex education needs a revamp and this could be one way of doing that.

dsc_0778

This month’s discussion was a lot of fun, and I loved how willing everyone was to share their experiences.  I’m looking forward to November 15th when we’ll be talking Social Media at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm.  Save the date, and don’t forget to tell a friend to tell a friend.

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

Info for October’s Young People Insight Forum

After discussing relationships in July and August, the topic of sex seemed like a good continuation for this month’s forum.

Photo by Foundry and used under Creative Commons License
Photo by Foundry and used under Creative Commons License

Sex is a natural part of life, which usually stems from relationships.  However, it has become a much larger factor in the lives young people over time, especially with the overly sexualised society we live in.  The ages at which we are exposed to sex continues to get younger, leading to earlier sexual experiences and an increase in sexual pressure.

I felt that the topic of sex was especially relevant after reading about the report by the Women and Equalities Committee that exposed the ‘widespread’ sexual harassment and violence in schools.   The sexual urges in young people are raging, but they are not being channeled healthily and they have not been taught about how to effectively deal with them, due to the failure of  sex education.  I mean, how many of us can really say that we had effective sex education growing up?

This month, be ready to talk about your expectations from sex, sex education and sex in the media. We’ll be asking, why has our society become so sexualised? How can young people get better educated on sex? Why do some males feel that it’s okay to pressure females into sex?  And if there’s anything else you’d like to ask or focus on, come with those questions as well.  This is your platform as much as mine.

So if you’re 16-25, don’t miss the Young People Insight forum on Tuesday 18th October from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B (1 Bell Hill, Croydon CR0 1FB).  This is the chance for you to speak your mind, munch on some snacks and meet new people.

DSC_0781

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

Reflecting on the Progression of Young People Insight

As you’ve probably noticed, there hasn’t been any information about a forum this month, but it’s only because we’re on a break until October 18th comes around.  However, this doesn’t mean that the work has stopped, as this month has given me plenty of time for reflection and allowed me to start putting some ideas in place to take Young People Insight to the next level.

Since holding the first forum in January, each month has continued to generate interesting discussions on a variety of topics, which have grown more dynamic and are always overrun with differing viewpoints.

DSC_0773
Young People Insight August Forum

I’ve seen different sides to young people and learnt more about their individual thought processes as we’ve spoken on topics including employment, violent crime and relationships.  They have also provided some useful, tangible solutions that I want us to start to putting into action over the course of the year, as one of the core elements of YP Insight is being the change we want to see.

One of the most effective and exciting forums was when five young people – Stephanie Kane, Matthew Don, Frances Acquaah, Kyle Hylton and Jason Simms-Davis – shared their stories so far and how they were pursuing their dreams at the forum in May.  Everyone who attended was inspired and engaged in what their fellow young people had to say – I am definitely planning to put on more forums with this format in the future.

dsc_0792
Young People Insight May Forum

Although the group of young people who attend the forums has been growing slightly and steadily, there are still a whole lot of young people that I would like to reach and involve in YP Insight, as I believe that it is essential for young people to use their voices and feel that they matter.

I’ve finally got some leaflets made, so look out for those, and I’m going to be setting up a YP Insight Instagram account to accompany the Facebook page and Twitter account.  The YouTube channel is also set to go live soon with our first video, created by one of our forum participants, Chinelo.  I’m hoping that future forums will be filmed and for highlight videos to be posted on the channel, giving others an insight into our discussions and what they’re missing.

dsc_0803
Young People Insight Leaflets

YP Insight was always supposed to be more than just forums, so there will be additional events coming up that will empower the voices of young people in other ways, as well as social events that will encourage young people to grow their network and develop their communication skills.  Next year, I’m also hoping to hold workshops that will be hosted by other organisations and put on collaborative events, which will create a greater sense of community.

Coming up on November 1st is our first spoken word/poetry event at Project B from 7-9pm, which will allow young people from Croydon to make their voice heard through the art of poetry and showcase their talent.  I want this to become a regular monthly event, sometimes with different themes for the poets and spoken word artists to focus on.

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

However, in order for YP Insight develop and for all these ideas to come to fruition, I need a team around me.  I particularly need individuals with skills and experience in media, marketing, finance and event planning/management, as well as someone to lead out on everything with me. This is a great opportunity to be part of a youth community/organisation in Croydon and it is something that you can put on your CV.

Together, we can make a real difference in our community and be the change we want to see, because if we truly want things to be different, it has to start with us.

For more information on any of the upcoming events or if you would like to join the Young People Insight team, email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk, follow @YPInsight on Twitter and like Young People Insight on Facebook.

How do you think we can make our society more peaceful?

September 21st is The International Day of Peace and it was highlighted on Croydon Radio‘s ‘Inside Story Radio Show’ on September 16th.  I feature on the ‘Inside Story Radio Show’ every month to give updates on Young People Insight and this month, it was requested that I ask young people the question, “How do you think we can make our society more peaceful”, to feed back some their answers on the show.

I got a number of great responses, most of which couldn’t be read out on the show earlier today, so I thought I’d share some more of them with you on the blog.  Hopefully it will inspire you and you’ll see something you can put into practice to make our society a more peaceful one.

  •  “By finding peace within ourselves first” – Jason, 24
  • “Educating people on issues creates less confusion and assumptions” – Dena
  • “Change your perceptions and beliefs about it; then the universe will mold reality to fit your perception.” – Alana, 21
  • “Within communities, having intentional gatherings and functions that integrate the members.  That can possibly create a care and empathy among community members” – Sh’kira, 22
  • “Have more social activities within a society.  Continue to raise awareness of issues going on.  Help understand and respect differences between individuals within the society.” – Simeon, 18
  • “Society having a good and concrete moral standard which can be supported in all spheres: the home, schools, workplace to create unity.  I believe God gave this to us in His counsel as to how we should live and also in the purpose He has given us in being created to commune with Him and one day be restored into His image.  While we could try to make adjustments to society, it is the hearts and attitudes of men which is the root cause of the issues we face — the fixing of this is what will one day result in true and lasting peace.” – Lauren, 21
  • “I think by engaging more with people, as in when you engage with people through activity or community projects, opportunities are created and people get to do something and feel happy or valued and I think that can bring peace; and acceptance” – Si-Ann, 23
  • “A lot of music artists today portray a negative energy and everybody follows and picks up on the energy.  The UK scene is on a high at the moment so every little thing the artists do is followed.  If our artists can portray how they made it to the millions etc, it would motivate our youth and general society to achieve likewise” – Elliott, 19
  • “Being helpful – when you see someone in trouble, whether they’re lost or confused, don’t act like you didn’t see them.  Speak out against prejudice and discrimination when you see it.  If ever you feel angry – take deep breaths before speaking… For me, the most significant things, which is honestly the simplest, is to smile at people on the street or even better yet, say hello.” – Nahed, 24
  • “As individuals we need to be more aware and considerate of others.  Show empathy.  If we thought of others more and less of ourselves, fewer conflicts and issues would arise, resulting in a more peaceful society.  And if people got to know Jesus through the Bible but most importantly build a relationship with Him and be changed by Him, our world could be transformed.  Not just ‘I got to Church Christians’ but real ‘I’m striving every day to be like Christ Christians’.  He’s the perfect example of peace” – Sophia, 22
  • “I don’t think there is such a thing as peace.  Between violence, politics and domestic abuse and everything in between, I don’t think it’s something that exists.  We need to work on equality.  The sooner everyone learns how to live together equally, the sooner the world becomes a better place.” – Daisy, 24
Photo by Alexas_Fotos and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by Alexas_Fotos and used under Creative Commons License.