Let’s Talk About Life Goals

Life Goals was the theme of our forum on June 20th, with the aim of inspiring young people and getting them thinking about the direction they want to take in life.

We started by revealing some of the goals we had, which included travelling the word, starting a business, keeping a job, embarking on a PhD, owning a house and starting a mental health charity for ethnic individuals.

Then it was time to hear from our first guest speaker, Daniel from Talk 2 Dan, which is an initiative that helps young people believe in themselves and develop the key skills they need to get into media.  He started Talk 2 Dan in January 2017, after being made redundant by Sky in December 2016 – “Everyone has a talent,” he says.

Daniel started out studying Personal Training at college, but then moved on to studying film and media – he won an award for a short film, which he says was “a big achievement for me.”  He then went on to study Broadcast Journalism at university, where his documentary, ‘Is Fast Food Killing Britain’s Youth?’ was singled out by an external examiner and he was asked to speak to the news.

He also had to deal with his mum dying, which “made me stronger.  More of a man.”  Daniel told us that “The best way for me to come to terms with this is speaking to people.”  Despite struggling with public speaking, Daniel overcame it by speaking to young people in schools.

As well as sharing his journey with us, Daniel laid out some steps for us to apply to our lives.  They included:

  • Not talking ourselves out of things
  • Having a positive mindset and visualising our future
  • Overcoming rejection
  • Digging deep
  • Remembering why you started.

Daniel believes that if you dream it, you can do it, and he told us that doing a lot of versatile things has helped him to figure out what he wants to do, which is make documentaries.  However, his main aim is to get young people to believe in themselves.

Our second set of guest speakers were Tatiana and Diego, the marketing manager and platform manager of Toptask.  Toptask is an app that links students to jobs around them, which was launched by a company called Student UK Ltd and I believe is a game-changer.

Not every student will want to commit to part-time work, so Toptask allows them to earn money when they have the time and also build their skills, providing them with experience that will benefit them when applying for jobs in the future.  “What really connected with me was originally looking for a job and remembering how hard it was to get a job without the initial experience,” said Diego.

Toptask is for young people and run by young people – all those hired to run the company are university students and recent graduates.  “We use the app ourselves and bring students in,” says Tatiana.

The app is exclusively for university students and those in further education college, as students applying for the jobs have to be over 18.  Tatiana also hopes that the company will be able to spread, as they are currently based in London.

There also seems to be a great personal element involved in Toptask, with Tatiana mentioning that she hears a number of incredible stories from the students she gets to know through the app.  Diego also told us, “I got to know an amazing group of young people from this job.”

We also had some more impromptu speakers on the day.  First, we heard from Don, who tried to become an MP in this month’s General Election.  Describing himself as being “political for quite a long time” and a former member of the Liberal Democrats – before becoming “quite disillusioned” after the 2010 General Election when the Tories came into power – Don was an estate agent for a year and a half.

He started in mid 2015 and saw how the house prices rose, and how difficult it was for young people to get on the property ladder, which he really didn’t like.  “Things are getting worse.  Property prices are getting higher… Things are getting harder and harder for people,” Don said.  He also touched on the generational divide and the fact that people are spending 50% on their rent.

“The problem I had in Croydon Central, which is the constituency I ran in, is that we didn’t have much chose… I think that’s unfair and that’s not what democracy is about,” Don explained to us about his reason to run in the election.  He wanted to do something now, rather than wait another five years – “If I can advocate for people… [and]… use the platform that I have, I consider it an obligation.”

Finally, we heard from Jamal, who recently got selected to take part in a 12-week performing arts programme called Amy’s Yard, which was set up by Amy Winehouse’s parents.  Jamal takes part in masterclasses, meets professionals in the industry and at end of the 12 weeks, those on the programme will be putting on a showcase in front of industry professionals.

Jamal is also planning to release a book, which is a compilation of short stories and poetry, which he started when he was in prison.  The book is based on everything he’s been through and everything he’s seen, but he first had to overcome his fear of sharing hat he’s been through.

As someone who tries to make a difference when he can, one of Jamal’s final points was, “I believe that if everyone actively gets involved in their community, we can make a big change.”

The ‘Influence of Music’ will be the topic of our forum on July 18th, so come ready for an interesting conversation.  I think this is going to be a lively one.

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’s Coming Up for YPI in June?

Can you believe that we’re already halfway through 2017?  I think the year needs to calm down and slow itself a little bit.  Things aren’t slowing down at YPI though, with a full set of activities coming your way this month.

Next Tuesday is our first social event of the year and I’m excited about chilling with all of you in a more social setting.  We’ve brought back ‘Come Out to Play’, a games night where you can get social.  There will be food, prizes and plenty of good vibes, so don’t miss out, but unlike the forums and poetry nights, this event is strictly 18+.

If you’re planning on coming, why not register at Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/ypicome-out-to-play

The theme for this month’s forum is Life Goals, which I know is already going to be one of my favourites.  We’re going to have some amazing young people sharing their stories so far and answering any questions you might have.  Some have started their own business, while another is in the world of sports.

I’m going to keep the guests a surprise for now, so look out for more information on our social media channels or come down to Project B on June 20th and see who they are for yourself.  We’ll be meeting at the usual time of 6.30-8.30pm and of course, there will be snacks to munch on.  Let me know you’re coming by registering here: http://bit.ly/ypilifegoals

Our final event for June will be our poetry night on June 27th.  This month’s Poetic Insight theme is Life, so if you’re a young poet wanting to make your voice heard on any aspect of life, send an email to shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or message me at 07910092565.

Make sure you save the date, otherwise you’ll miss a night of inspiring poetry.  Doors open at 7pm with performances starting at about 7.20pm and the event concluding at 9pm.  You can also register for the event at Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/poeticinsight-life

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.

Raw Expression Shown at Poetic Insight

As you’ve probably seen us mention before, it was Mental Health Awareness Week earlier in the month of May, but at YPI we carried it all the way through to the end of the month, culminating with a mental health themed Poetic Insight on May 30th.

I had a feeling that it was going to be a special night, but I had no idea just how beautiful it would be.  The poets performed with a stellar rawness and each of them brought something different, sharing a little of themselves with all of us.

You could feel the emotion in the room, as everyone sat engaged with each poem, seemingly unsure of whether they should click or make sounds in agreement with what was being said.  There was a level of respect shown that was so amazing, I wish it could have been shared with an even wider audience.

Laurence was our first act of the night, telling the relevant and well-known story of Sarah Reed through spoken word.  On the other end of the scale, Rozita was our final act, sharing her experience about relationships and depression through spoken word and song.

Rhianna was brave enough to share a poem about her own personal journey with mental health, just as Tania bravely shared a poem about her experience with depression and the conflict it caused with a family member due to their faith.

Miss Yankey shared a piece of spoken word about what her friend went through, due to drug induced schizophrenia and psychosis.  Then there was Fahad, who delivered a powerful spoken word poem about bullying.

As if the night was not special or poignant enough, Angela, a member of the audience, asked to take the stage to share a few words about her experience dealing with mental health issues.  Tears flowed and you could hear a pin drop, as everyone in the room sat taking in her every word.  Young people like Angela being courageous enough to share their stories was why I started this platform in the first place, so I was so glad that she felt comfortable enough to share that with us.

 

All that’s left now is to say thank you to all of my wonderful performers – Laurence, Miss Yankey, Rhianna, Gus, Annotate, Sid, Fahad, Nazarene, Pekz, Authentic Alanie, Tania and Rozita – and of course, the wonderful Angela, for coming on to the Poetic Insight stage.  You make these nights amazing and you make me proud to be a young person.

The next Poetic Insight will be on June 27th and the theme will be Life, following on from our forum’s theme of Life Goals.  If you want to perform, email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or message me at 07910092565.

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.

Bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon

Last month, I took part in the European youth project, The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) for the third time.  This year we were in the town of Sarteano, Italy, where we took part in the usual assortment of workshops, discussions and showcases.

A project centred on inclusiveness, tolerance and equality, TFCT is the perfect example of what Europe and the extended world could be if we were more accepting of each other and worked together, rather than fight against each other.

Most of all, it shows the importance of art – how it can bring people together and begin to create change.  This has been a great inspiration to me and an element that I’ve taken forward in developing Young People Insight – in fact, YP Insight probably would not be what it is now without TCFT.

This year I brought a bit of YP Insight to Sarteano by holding a poetry night as part of TCFT.  As always, it was filled with varying talent and amazing poetry on a variety of different themes.  However, unlike Poetic Insight, all of the performers were not young people, but TCFT is all about transcending age.

Poems were presented in different languages, which brought different levels and beautiful cultural diversity to the night.  Francesco’s poems were read in Italian, and also translated into English and Romanian.  Maya and Sandra performed poems in Bosnian, while Saša delivered a poem in Serbian.

Image by Irina Ganescu.

There were themes about love, self, fitting in and dance.  Some poems were more personal than others, giving us a deeper insight into the individual which is always beautiful.  Hopefully there will be some footage up online soon so you will be able to experience what was an amazing night.

Thank you to Francesco, Sandra, Julia, Sylvia, Luka, Ellie, Izzy, Maya, Molly, Ricky, Liviu, Raul and Saša – the night would not have been what it was without you.  I also want to thank everyone else who was behind the scenes and helped me to get the night organised I could not have pulled this off on my own in a country that was foreign to me.

TCFT is a truly special experience, which words cannot do enough justice for.  You cannot fully comprehend it unless you live it yourself, which is why I intend to bring more of TCFT to Croydon over time.  I’ve seen the change and effect it has had on the lives of the young people involved, including myself.  I can genuinely say that it has changed my life and I would not be the leader that I am now without it.

Just watch this space.

What are your thoughts on mental health?

Taking inspiration from Mental Health Awareness Week, mental health was the theme of this month’s forum.  On May 16th, we were joined by Geoff and Joan from Off The Record, a charity “founded in 1994 to provide free, independent and professional counselling for 14 – 25 year olds in the Croydon area,” who provided another level to our conversation.

To start the conversation, I thought it was important to ask what everyone’s understanding of mental health was.  Responses included:

  • “I think it may be along the lines of mental capabilities… It is knowing the mental capacity of an individual – something may trigger someone more than others.” – Sharna
  • “Up until recently, I didn’t realise anxiety and depression was a symptom of mental health.  I only thought mental health was schizophrenia or a mental breakdown.” – Alana
  • “I understand mental health as the health of our minds… All of us have a mental health.  There is no such thing as people with or without it.” – Geoff
  • “It’s not taken as seriously as physical illnesses… It’s not recognised unless people go through it.” – Shannette

Sharna then brought up the well-being factor in the workplace and getting mental health issues out there, particularly in schools.  Geoff responded by saying that if we had less shame, then we would be more willing to talk about it.  He also made the very interesting point of: “The strategies work for a while, but in the end they become a problem themselves.”

The next question I asked was, why does there seem to be a stigma around mental health, especially in the BME community?  Alana thinks that it’s a lot to do with pride and social status, while Sharna thinks that there’s a big lack of understanding.  Sharna also said, “With people of colour, there is a harsh reality that it can be fixed.”

Shannette thinks that sometimes it’s a parent coming to terms with what their child has, while Nyisha believes that black families sometimes have difficulty in taking responsibility for playing a part in their children’s mental health problems.  “I think what your parents has gone through effects you, and effects their children,” said Nyisha.

We also touched on the topic of males and mental health, which I think could be a topic for discussion all in itself.  Sharna began by saying, “It’s like boys aren’t able to have emotions.”  Shannette followed up by expressing that she thinks things are changing now, especially with social media, and that boys are a little more open and able to share their emotions.

Hakeem said that guys tend to bottle things up more often, and Geoff revealed to us that with a break up, there is an incredible difference in the way that is handled by each gender.  He told us that girls find various ways to deal with it, while boys tend to go to the extreme and at times consider suicide.

Alana and Rhianna were both brave enough to share their experiences with mental health problems with us.  Alana revealed that it was triggered by something that happened in her past, while Rhianna went into depth on what triggers her depression and anxiety disorder, and how she has coped with them.

I then handed it over to Geoff, who expressed the importance of getting interested in our critical voice.  He believes that these voices often come from our experiences and it’s about understanding that voice, and not taking it at face value.

Rhianna followed this up by saying that a lot of our thoughts are fears that come from nowhere – “Sometimes you need to question it and not just listen to it.  Sometimes you just need encouragement.”

Nyisha thinks that a lot of things to do with mental health is meeting someone in their reality, which was slightly echoed by Rhianna who thinks that people need to take more time to understand people and who they are – “I think that a lot of people can only understand to their level of understanding.”

Shannette also believes that in a lot of instances, people are in competition with how serious their problems are, which can sometimes be the block in people getting help.

Rhianna expressed the importance of having a way to deal with things and express yourself – “You have to face something in order to overcome it.”  She also added that “with depression, a good thing is to just let it out.”

Geoff also believes that with some people, a diagnosis is really useful and medication could be really helpful, but sometimes a diagnosis is not helpful, as people can be misdiagnosed.  He added that a medical models is not always the best solution, and sometimes the humanist model can be a better way to look at it.

My final question was, how can we break the stigma around mental health?  Responses included:

  • “By doing things like this.” – Geoff
  • “Getting more understanding.” – Valerie
  • “If there is something you’re going through, own what you have and educate people on what you have.” – Shannette
  • Spreading awareness – Alana
  • Encouraging people and sharing your story.  “Also finding the right groups of people – we all need someone.” – Rhianna
  • I think society needs to question the senior members in the medical profession.  It would help to have more people in the same community, as they have that cultural understanding. – Nyisha

There were so many more amazing gems and points raised in the conversation, but unfortunately I cannot include them all, so I want to leave you with a few to reflect on:

  • “No one can be your hype man as much as you.” – Shannette
  • “Establish that what you’re going through is your own and you can’t make comparisons.” – Rhianna
  • “I think everyone has a hint of madness in them and it’s about embracing that.” – Shannette
  • “You can be saving someone by just sharing your experience.” – Alana
  • “When we’re struggling, that is often when the light comes in.” – Geoff

Life Goals will be the theme of our forum on June 20th and it is going to be a special one, as we’ll be joined by some inspiring young people who will be sharing their stories.  Hopefully it will inspire you to think about your life goals and what steps you want to take moving forward.

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.

Info for May’s YP Insight Forum & Poetic Insight

We’re only eight days away from the end of our crowdfunding campaign and also into the second day of Mental Health Awareness Week, which I think we can all agree is incredibly important.  Mental health needs to be acknowledged and conversations definitely need to be had to create a better understanding in the midst of a mental health crisis.

This is why we are focusing on mental health this month at YPI, starting with our forum on May 16th.  Mental health was actually the topic of choice for Rhianna, so I’m hoping that she will help me in leading out next week.

We’ll be asking about the understanding of mental health, why there seems to be a stigma around it and how we can break the stigma.  There will also be some representatives who work in the young health and mental health sector present, which will add an element of expertise to the conversation.

So this is a call to all young people to come along next Tuesday and join the conversation on an important topic, while munching on some snacks in a relaxed environment.  We’ll be at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm, so just let us know you’re coming by registering here: http://bit.ly/2pT3hqh

Mental health will also be the theme for this month’s Poetic Insight, which will be taking place on May 30th.  There are slots open to perform, so if you are a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to speak your mind on mental health, email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or message me on 07910092565.

I think this is going to be a night of incredible, moving, powerful poetry, which none of you will want to miss.  Save the date and come down to Project B, where doors will open at 7pm with performances starting at about 7.20pm and the event concluding at about 9pm.  Register to get your free tickets now: http://bit.ly/2pT3hqh

Don’t forget to support our crowdfunding campaign in the final eight days so that YPI can continue to put on events like this and create necessary dialogue.  You can share our campaign page and make a pledge here: http://bit.ly/empower-youth-voice

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.

13 Days Left of Crowdfunding Campaign

In February I started training, April 12th was the launch and now there are just 13 days left of our crowdfunding campaign.  I cannot believe how quickly time has flown by, but that is just the way life is these days.

The amount of work that has gone into this campaign is more than I ever imagined and it has been stressfullll.  I’ve been frustrated, worried, tired and welled up with tears, but I’ve valued the journey and all that its taught me.  Going through the training actually helped me focus the direction of Young People Insight, which I’m really happy about.

This campaign will not only enable Young People Insight to empower the voices of more young people through increased funds, but it will also raise awareness of the platform, which is definitely needed.

We’re now into the final two weeks of the campaign and urgency is the name of the game.  The target is £2300 and we’re not yet at the halfway mark, so please give a pledge of at least £3 if you can: http://bit.ly/empower-youth-voice

There are some great rewards on offer, including a special thank you video from yours truly filmed in a beautiful Italian theater, a collection of poetry by some of the young performers from our poetry nights and £10 off an L’s Up Official hat.  L’s Up Official just happens to be a fashion brand run by two young men who are involved with YP Insight.

Also, continue to share the campaign as far and wide as you can, because one share could make all the difference in boosting up our total.  Posts about our campaign are also on Just Croydon and The Voice, which you can share and use for validation as well.

I just want to take this time to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported, pledged and shared our campaign so far.  We literally could not do it without you and I love you all for that.

If you haven’t seen it already, take a little time to watch Alana share her experience with Poetic Insight and don’t forget to head over to our campaign page: http://bit.ly/empower-youth-voice