The Complete Freedom of Truth Landing in Croydon

As you may remember from previous posts, I have participated in the international youth project, The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT), by attending three residencies in the past two years.

I’ve been fortunate enough to immerse myself in creativity and meet the most amazing group of people from around Europe and beyond, in the towns of Srebrenica (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Bournemouth (UK) and Sarteano (Italy).  Each residency was different, but always special and a truly rewarding experience.

Image by Robert Golden and used with permission.

TCFT changed my life in a number ways.  Most significantly, it gave me the final spurt of courage I needed to launch Young People Insight as a physical platform and also influenced the way that it has evolved, particularly in the creative sense.  However, just having an influence or bringing an essence of TCFT to Croydon isn’t enough – I actually want young people to gain the TCFT experience that I did.

This is why I’m excited to be bringing TCFT to Croydon!  

On Sunday 20th August, myself and another Croydon based participant, Naomi, will be facilitating TCFT Croydon, a one day pilot project, giving young people a taste of TCFT.  It will also allow us to see if there is a wider want for TCFT in Croydon, and if it all works out, more and longer length TCFT projects, workshops and residencies will be coming to the borough.

The theme for the day will be Unity, and young people, aged 15-26, will be able to participate in a  creative workshop of their choice in either Matthews Yard, Project B or Turf Projects.  They can choose from Art, Drama, Music, Photography or Poetry, which will give them the chance to let their creative juices flow and develop skills along the way.

An important element of TCFT is creating change and encouraging “a vision of an equal, inclusive and truly democratic society”, which is why a discussion element will also take place.  And to conclude the day, any work created by the young participants will be shared at Braithwaite Hall (Croydon Clock tower) in the evening, which members of the community are invited to attend.

Photo by Robert Golden and used with permission.

This is going to be a fun-filled, inclusive day, which could be the start of something truly great for Croydon and even South London as a whole.  It is also a day of opportunities for young people, as they never know where participating in this project may lead.  I can honestly say that I would not be the same person without TCFT.

If you would like to be part of the first ever TCFT Croydon – don’t worry, you don’t have to be from Croydon – sign up here: http://thecompletefreedomoftruth.com/croydon

Continued Support at Poetic Insight

Every Poetic Insight is different, which is what makes every one of them special in their own way.  One thing that never changes though is the amazing young talent and constant support in the room.

The support is what enables first time performers to take to the stage and do a great job.  On July 25th, we welcomed Jadi-Ann to the stage for the first time, who did a great job of summing up the battle of procrastination and turning words into action.  We hope that she’ll come back and share at Poetic Insight again in the future.

We also had some of our regular performers back, which is always great.  Authentic Alanie shared a spoken word poem inspired by the Indigo Children, Rainbow Children and Crystal Children, while Jamal performed a powerful spoken word piece on genocide and hate.

Rhianna took to the stage after a couple of months away, sharing a poem about love gone cold.  And Annotate put a huge smile on our face, performing one of our favourite poems about young people struggling to have a chance.

I also shared a spoken word poem that was very important to my heart, where I wiped away my mask and expressed some of my more innermost feelings.  It feels good to let my guard down every once in a while.

You’ll have to wait until October 31st for the next Poetic Insight, and since its Black History Month the theme will be Black-ish.  However, you can get social with us on Sunday from 5-8pm in Project B and we’ll be bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon on August 20th – stay tuned for more news on that.

Just make sure you save the date of October 31st and if you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting 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.

What influence does music have?

We sat down in Project B on July 18th to talk all about the influence of music, which was a conversation that took off into numerous directions that I was never expecting.  Nevertheless, it made the night incredibly interesting.

To get everyone warmed up, I asked them to share what music means to them.  Responses included:

  • “An inspiration.”  You can be inspired by the career of others in music. – Andrae
  • “Music is parallel universes.  I can see other versions of myself in music.” – Alana
  • “Music is my pain, and then my happiness.”  All the bad from the past influences the happiness that I have.” – Unorthodox
  • “Music is a lot.” – Hakeem
  • “The point where you can appreciate music and you’re in the zone.  Music can take you to a happy place and a sad place.” – Pekz

Pekz also added a personal anecdote to his explanation, telling us that he’s been doing music for a very long time – “Music’s like that one woman I keep going back to.”

Pekz later delved right into the influence of music, saying that “there are people that influence it in the wrong way” and that music influences our younger generation.  He also expressed that music has a lot of power in decisions that we make in life, but as human beings we have some common sense to recognise the good from the bad.

Unorthodox backed up this point, saying, “The music is the problem…There’s people under 16 doing things they’ve seen in the videos and heard in the songs.”

I then posed the question, what effects have music had on you?  Hakeem said that music helps him when he’s stressed out, and Alana told us that the music she listens to that relaxes her is Disney and Barbie – “I feel I can jump into them and in a different world.”

Pekz made the point that a lot of music is for the female base – “I can go to a bashment rave and see 70% females.”  He also added, “Women support music more than mandem” and that women buy into music more.

Women would be a recurring theme during our conversation, as we spent time speaking about interacting and dancing with women in clubs.  We also spoke about general interactions between males and females – “Everything that’s good looking is not always the good thing,” said Pekz.

As you know, we love individuals sharing their stories and personal experiences at YPI.  One of the most special moments of the night was Pekz and Unorthodox sharing how music was the base of their friendship.  “Music can bring people together,” said Pekz.

I later asked: What are your thoughts on the link between music and misogyny towards women?  Andrae thinks that music’s behind it, while Unorthodox told us, “This is why I respect old music, because they were bigging up women.”

Pekz went a little deeper, using another personal experience – “I said something in one of my songs, because a lot of women are referring to themselves in that way.”  He later added that “a lot of women today are idolising 67.”

This also led on to us talking about the differences between hip hop, rap and grime, as well as how hip hop has changed over the years.  “Back in the day, people had something to say,” expressed Andrae.

My final question of the night was, what would you say to someone who is living out negative stereotypes that stem from music?

  • “I’m doing it now through my music.” – Unorthodox
  • “We can still appreciate music without listening to all the negative stuff.  You shouldn’t be afraid to hear new stuff.” – Pekz
  • “Explore many different types of lyrics… Research into what you listen to and don’t just listen to it.” – Alana

I’ll leave you with a final point from Pekz, who said, “Everything is a live and learn situation… Music can influence you to do positive things, because it depends on the types of lyrics.”

Our next forum won’t be until October, as we’re bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon on August 20th and in September we’re taking a well-earned break.  You can ‘Get Together’ with us at our next social event on August 6th, but for now, save the date of October 17th when we’ll be talking Culture.

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 July’s YP Insight Forum & Poetic Insight

We’re now very much into the month of July, so I apologise for being late with this blog post, but I’ve been crazy busy with the exciting things we’ve got coming up in August!!  Hopefully you’ve seen some of the information about the events we’ve got coming in July already.

At the request of Kyle, we are going to be talking music at the forum on July 18th.  However, since music is such a broad subject, we decided to focus on ‘The Influence of Music’ this time round.

What are some of the effects of music on the ears of the listener?  Do you think it has a negative influence on young individuals, particularly young black individuals?  What are your thoughts on the link between music and misogyny towards women?

There are so many more questions that could come into play, so come chill with us, join the conversation and bring any questions of your own.  We’ll be meeting at the usual time of 6.30-8.30pm in Project B and of course, there will be snacks to munch on.  Let me know you’re coming by registering here: http://bit.ly/ypiinfluenceofmusic

Poetic Insight returns on July 25th.  Like previous months, there is no theme, so feel free to make your voice heard on whatever subject you choose.  If you’re a young poet wanting to speak your mind on the Poetic Insight stage, send an email to shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or message me at 07910092565.

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-july17

It’s set to be another good month of events, building up to the excitement of August.  Keep looking out for more information about what we’ve got coming up for you.  You’re gonna love 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.

Highs & Lows at Poetic Insight

On June 27th, Poetic Insight was all about the theme of Life.  I wanted it to be an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate life after all of the sadness and craziness that has been plaguing our country recently.  However, life has a way of throwing you curve balls and not going the way you’d like it to.

I like to be honest and I think it’s good to be open when it comes to YPI, which means telling you about some of the slightly lower points, as well as the highs.

Last month’s Poetic Insight was one of those slightly lower points in some respects, as the community did not come out to support as I would have liked, and it was the smallest audience and number of performers so far.  This was also a night I dedicated to my Uncle, who suddenly passed away in May and was always full of life, so I wanted this night to be special for him.

However, there was a great positive in the smaller audience, as it gave a young person the courage to get up and perform, which she would not have done in front of a larger audience.  It was great to watch JayJay gather confidence as the night went on, asking to perform again and deliver a performance with greater conviction than before.

Young people like JayJay are the reason I started YPI in the first place, so being able to give her that opportunity was amazing and made me feel proud on the night.  So all in all, the night was a success, even if the numbers had dwindled on a rainy evening.

It was also brilliant to listen to Alana’s story so far, telling us what it has been like living with autism – she shared some great poetry as well.  Annotate was fire as usual, dropping two spoken word poems that forced us to think about the lives of all individuals, whether they are here in the UK or in the Middle East, as well as the importance of being real.

I also shared the journey I took that led to me starting YPI and why it is so important for me to use the platform to make a change.  And at the end of the night, I emphasised the importance of making our voices heard and making a difference in our society, in spite of our age, because young people are just as important as anyone else.

So in spite of some initial disappointment, last month’s Poetic Insight turned out to be a lovely night and a great success.  After all, it’s about quality, not quantity.

The next Poetic Insight will be on July 25th, but there will be no theme this time, giving young poets and spoken word artists to speak out on whatever they choose.  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.

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.