Celebrating Peace at The Kickback / Poetic Insight

“What will happen if we focus on peace for a week?” was the thinking Katie Rose had that led to her to developing and organising Croydon’s first ever Festival of Peace.  On June 19th, we focused on peace by combining The Kickback with Poetic Insight, as part of the programme for the festival.

“This project is a the result of the amazing collaboration and power that is in Croydon,” said Katie to start of the discussion segment of the event.  “Taking the focus away from war and focus more on peace.  What will come from that?”

The first question I asked linked in with one of the things Katie said, which was, what does peace mean to you?  Eileen was first to answer: “Not having to go out… It’s nice to shut your door and not have people giving you any weird experiences.”  Karen followed up this point by saying, “Sometimes I feel solitary time is not stepping back.  It’s living your life.”

For Sid, peace is more to do with understanding and accepting, while Aaron says that “It’s being one with God, and loving Him, and obeying Him or Her.  Also balance.  It’s important to balance between life.”

Steph thinks that you need to have a sense of inner peace to have a peaceful community, but there will always be friction – “I think it’s important to have tolerance.”  This led on to an interesting point from Katie, who said , “Peace doesn’t mean no conflict.”  Sid then said, “Discussion is what leads to the resolving of all kinds of conflict.”

There was also an interesting point in our conversation when we spoke about the hatred towards vegans, which was validated by Steph and Eileen who are both vegan, which we all found incredibly strange.

Next, I asked why everyone thinks peace isn’t spoken about more in society we continuously hear about war.  Eileen responded first again, saying, “Peace may come across as giving in.  It may be seen as weak.”  Aaron then posed the question, “Does peace sell?  People often gravitate to what isn’t peaceful,” – “People are attracted to conflict,” said Steph.

“It’s the minority of people who commit the violent acts in society.  It’s the minority who get all the press… It keeps everyone in fear of each other,” Katie expressed.  On a different level, Sid said, “People are naturally very cynical,” as if you’re doing something good or charitable, people question why you’re doing it.”

Si-Ann made the interesting point of peace being played off as the kind of opposite of power – “Peace is pushed as the kind of nerdy thing that nobody really wants.”  Hannah also thinks that peace is synonymous to politics and we’re encouraged to stay away from politics.  Joe also linked into Hannah’s point by saying, “Politicians will talk about dropping bombs on someone… but they won’t say what’s coming next.”

Katie also thinks it’s about being hooked on drama, “because drama is an adrenaline rush.”  She also made the point about war being “big bucks”.  Karen brought in a health element by saying, “I think a lot of the food we eat is quite inflammatory, and when you eat it, the more you want to fight.”

I then asked people to share what makes them feel peaceful.  “I think that it comes down to self-care.  As people, we forget to look after ourselves… It’s taking care of yourself to be your best person,” said Matu.  Karen B shared that being outside makes her feel peaceful – “As soon as I step outside, that sense of peace comes over me.”

For Karen, having good boundaries in place with whatever she’s doing makes her feel peaceful.  Matu also believes that protecting yourself makes you feel peaceful, and she then went on to reference that the movies we watch expose us to war and can make us desensitized.  Sid also made a beautiful point, stating that “Inner peace is kind of like you’re healing yourself.”

The final question I asked was, how can we bring more peace to our community and society as a whole?  Aaron quickly said, “Get involved,” while Katie said, “Arts activity, which is why I started this festival.”  Katie added, “I think art is really important for our well-being… Arts activities have this capacity to bring us together.”

Si-Ann thinks it is about being very cautious of the way we react to situations – “When situations occur, sometimes we behave in a way society has conditioned us to behave.”  Karen believes that “you have to accept every single person in your community, no matter who they are.”

Sid thinks that it “really does come down to education.  When you’re educated on certain matters, that can work towards peace.”  Aaron responded to Sid’s point by saying, “We shouldn’t just be educated people, we should be people of action… When we really value what we bring to the table, more people will get involved.”

This tied in with what Joe said, which was, “I think a more peaceful world is where people are involved… Doing things, you get more involved in how to make change.”  Finally, Aaron said, “When we all see each other not just as other people, but we’re all family, we will get more involved.”

Following the discussion and a little break, it was on to the poetry segment of the night, which is always beautiful.

We had five wonderful open mic’ers in Aaron, Eileen, Hannah, Samirah and Woodzy, who brought their unique styles to the stage.  Aaron was the only Poetic Insight returnee, with all the rest gracing our stage for the first time.

Another first on the night was having feature poets, which isn’t the Poetic Insight tradition, but this was a special event so we did something different.  We were fortunate enough to enjoy the talents of three amazing features, who were the icing on the cake for the night.

First we had returning poet, AadamSpeaks, who brought his witty words and meaningful messages to the stage.  Next was Joe Duggan, who was taking to the Poetic Insight stage for the first time and championing the inter-generational element of the night, who engaged us with his fun and hard-hitting poetry.  Finally was Poetic Insight veteran, Sid, who came with his usual powerful and hard-hitting spoken word.

If you weren’t there, you definitely missed out on an amazing, beautiful event that did a great job of bringing people together.  The conversations went on long after the event officially finished.  Thank you to everyone who was part of it.  Let’s keep spreading the peace.

The Kickback returns on July 24th when the topic will be Goals, and Poetic Insight returns July 31st when the theme will be Dreams & Goals.  Make sure you get both dates in your diary.

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 This June?

It feels just crazy typing it, but we are already halfway through the year.  Can you believe it?  Halfway through 2018!!  Now that I’ve got that off my chest, it’s time to fill you in on all that we’ve got coming up in June.

This month is looking to be a unique one for YPI with our events being non-traditional and quite specialised.  June’s first event will be part of Croydon’s Festival of Peace programme, so we’re doing things a little differently.

The Kickback will be combining with Poetic Insight, for a night of conversation, poetry and munchies, of course.  We’ll be focusing on the theme of Peace, which I think will result in an interesting conversation.

We’re also opening up the Poetic Insight stage to poets and spoken word artists of all ages for the first time, as the event will have an inter-generational focus rather than the usual focus on young people.  As well as the traditional open mic, we are excited to have three amazing feature poets in AadamSpeaks, Joe Duggan and Sid.

This is going to be beautiful, so save the date of June 19th and be at Project B from 6.30-9.30pm for a night of peace, love and good vibes.  Let us know you’re coming here: bit.ly/thekickbackpoeticinsight-peace

After a great start last month, TCFT Croydon 2018 continues on Sunday June 24th, focusing on the theme of Change.  The creative workshops begin this month, giving participants the opportunity to build on discussions and what they would like to change through creative means.

One of the things that the participants said that they would like to change and decided to focus on is bridging the gap between generations.  With that in mind, I have made the decision to extend the age of participants and invite those over 25 to take part in TCFT Croydon 2018 with us, as the inter-generational element seems to work very well in Croydon.  If you are interested in bridging the gap and getting your creative juices flowing, sign up here: bit.ly/tcftcroydon2018-signup

Our final event in June will be a collaboration with local organisation, I Am More CIC, who focus on addressing the needs of young carers aged 11-21 years old, living in and around London.

The aim of the event is to raise awareness of young carers, as well as create a safe space for young carers to express themselves.  We’ll be watching a short film created as part of I Am More’s ‘Be Seen’ campaign, followed by a relaxed discussion.

Come along to Project B on June 26th from 7-9pm to learn more about I Am More and what they do, show support to young carers and meet some new people.  Sign up for the night here: bit.ly/letstalkaboutyoungcarers

It’s gonna be another exciting month at YPI, which I am very much looking forward to and I hope to see some of your lovely faces.  You know there will be a smile and hug waiting for you.

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.

Another Beautiful Night at Poetic Insight: Mental Health 2018

Wrapping up May’s focus on mental health was Poetic Insight on the 29th.  This was an event I was really looking forward to after last year’s raw, beautiful Poetic Insight: Mental Health, and this year delivered another beautiful night, despite being different to the last one.

Clouds were covering up the shining sun from May 2017 and the night’s line up was smaller than the previous year, but the raw words expressed, emotion conveyed and talent displayed remained the same.

Miss Yankey graced the Poetic Insight stage for the first time at our mental health themed night in 2017, and she was back in 2018 to deliver another powerful performance.  She went in deep as always with a performance of a poem about mental health and domestic violence.

Coming to the Poetic Insight stage for the very first time was Clemmie, who shared a really beautiful poem, filled with wonderful words, about the personal struggles that come with mental issues.

Kris also returned to Poetic Insight, going in with a deep performance of a poem about masculinity, which in itself has ties to mental health.

I began the night by performing a poem entitled Me and Myself, which I wrote especially for the night, about the internal battle attacking my mind.  To end the night, I shared my story of how I had been battling with mental health issues and how I was still battling them, rounding it off with my poem The Beautiful, Brutal Blade, about my struggle with self-harm.

However, what made the night so beautiful for me was watching the different connections forming around the room.  A part of me didn’t even want to start the performances, because I was loving all of the conversations that were happening and relationships starting to develop.  For me, that is the key part of what Young People Insight is all about.  I hope the conversations keep going, the connections strengthen and the relationships continue to grow.

Poetic Insight will be joining with The Kickback when it returns on June 19th for a very special event as part of Croydon’s Festival of Peace.  We’ve got three amazing feature poets, as well as the traditional open mic, so stay tuned for more information.  You are going to 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.

What’s Coming Up This May?

May is here, the sunshine is back and I’m excited for everything that we’ve got coming up!  This month is going to be a busy one for YPI with lots of great things in the works.  I just need to make sure that I keep up with it all.

First up is The Kickback, when we’ll be talking Mental Health during Mental Health Awareness Week.  The topic of Mental Health led to one of our best conversations in 2017 and I’m looking forward to another great conversation this year.

The Kickback will be hosted by OASIS, a health service for young people aged 14-35, who are experiencing psychological distress.  OASIS’s focus is on Psychosis, which they will be providing a deeper insight into.  Be sure to save the date of May 15th and the time of 6.30-8.30pm.  Register for the event here: bit.ly/letstalkmentalhealth

On the following day, we are joining up with community-led cinema, Screen25, and youth counselling charity, Off The Record, to put on a special event for Mental Health Awareness Week.  We will be screening feature film, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a 2010 hit comedy that confronts preconceptions about mental health and explores the reality of depression through the eyes of a 16-year-old.

As well as the feature film, you will also be treated to a screening of Behind The Locked Door, a short documentary produced by Brent Mind, about mental health in the black community.  And following on from the films will be a panel discussion on mental health, touching on some of the issues raised in the films.

I am really looking forward to this event, which I think is going to be thought-provoking and a lot of fun.  I don’t want any of you to miss it, so get May 16th, 7.45-10pm, in your diary, and don’t forget to buy your tickets: bit.ly/2r0cQC6

Last year, I put on the TCFT Croydon Pilot on a Sunday in August.  This year, TCFT Croydon is going to be bigger and better, taking place on three Sundays spread across three months.  The first of those Sundays will be May 27th at Turf Projects, getting the ball rolling for TCFT Croydon 2018 with a day of fun conversation and creative activities.

The theme for TCFT Croydon 2018 is Change, encouraging young people to think about how they can spark change through art, culminating in the final sharing of the work they create on July 15th.  There are still a small number of spaces remaining for those of you who are 15-25, so if you would like take part in this special creative process, sign up for your free space now: bit.ly/tcftcroydon2018-signup

Our final event in May will be Poetic Insight, continuing the focus on the theme of Mental Health.  Last year’s Mental Health themed Poetic Insight was a raw, beautiful, moving experience, which will definitely go down as one of our most memorable events.  I’m hoping that this will be another one to remember.

We’ll be at Project B on May 29th from 7-9pm, with performances starting at 7.30pm.  If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or send a message to 07910092565, and I’ll add your name to the list.  If you’d prefer to simply engage by sitting in the audience, register for your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-mentalhealth

I genuinely cannot wait for all of these events and I cannot wait to see your beautiful faces at some of them.  I’ll be waiting with a big smile and a hug.

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.

Poetry Meets Conversation at Poetic Insight

We continued this month’s focus on violence at Poetic Insight on April 24th, which brought together powerful poetry with more compelling conversation.

Mahmoud returned to the Poetic Insight stage, again sharing poetry he wrote after getting inspired on the night.  He dropped some strong, thought-provoking lines with his own style.

Paul Point graced our stage for the first time, leaving us in awe through his powerful delivery and masterful wordplay, taking us through stories in poetic form.

We were also joined by Sarah Jones MP, who spoke about the work she does and engaged in a conversation with us about youth violence.  One of the initial things she touched on was the barriers between young people and the police, with a lot still needing to be done to break these barriers down.

Sarah asked us about what we could possibly do or what we think could be done to address the issue of youth violence.  Renee expressed that people want to be involved in the community, but sometimes they don’t know how.  However, she did share some ways that members of the community could get involved, particularly through an initiative she is developing as part of her organisation, Croydon Community Leaders.

Mahmoud asked, “How will young people like me have a voice?”  Sarah was adamant that young people need to be part of every decision that is made when decisions are being made about young people, referencing panels that take place to discuss young people, but have no young people on the panel.

A number of interesting points were made regarding prisons – “Some young people spoke about how prison was a break for them,” said Sarah – how we interact with young people, the services available to them and how we make information about those services available, as well as some of the root causes – “There are connectors that are much more important than the colour of your skin,” said Sarah.

To end, I shared a poem I wrote especially for the night, comparing the violence in our city to a war zone.  However, I want to leave you with Sarah’s words, “This is the start of tackling a problem that is at a record high.”

Poetic Insight is back on May 29th  when the theme will be ‘Mental Health’.  Last year was really special, so save the date because you will not want to miss it.  We’ll be at Project B of our usual time of 7-9pm.  If you would like to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or get in contact through social media.

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.

First Timers Take Over Poetic Insight Stage

It was all about the first timers at Poetic Insight on March 27th, as most of the poets on the night were either taking to our stage for the first time or sharing their poems with an audience for the very first time.  This made me extremely happy, as I love welcoming new talent to our stage and expanding the YP Insight family.

The theme for the night was ‘Existence’, combined with ‘Love & Hate’, following last month’s cancellation.  Not everyone followed the theme, but it was fine with me, as it was a beautiful night nonetheless.

After I shared one of my poems about my first love (writing for those of you who may be wondering), Renwhar was the first poet of the night.  Coming to Poetic Insight for the first time, he shared the poems, ‘A Coin’, which really made us think, and ‘Fire’, inspired by Kurdish New Year.

Friends Tide and Chloe were also at Poetic Insight for the first time.  Tide read her poem about mental, ‘Ebbs and Flow’, while Chloe finished the first half by reading her poem ‘Clean Slate’, which was about her break up from a four-year relationship.

Tide and Chloe’s friend Rahi kicked off the second half, sharing his poetry for the first time ever in front of an audience, and shooting at our heart-strings with a beautiful love poem.  He was followed by Amraj, another poet sharing his work with an audience for the first time.  Amraj also shared some beautiful words, encouraging us to renew our faith and love ourselves.

Jadi-Ann returned to share ‘Pure and Flawed, Just Like You’, which was an interesting and very real poem about relationships and the similarities in each one of us.

AdamSpeaks, who got political with his spoken word poem, ‘Justice’, and also highlighted how amazing women were in ‘Empowerment’.  The final poet of the night, ‘Annotate’, also got political with his final performance of ‘Zainab’, inspired by seven year-old Zainab Ansari who was raped and murdered in Pakistan.

A  big thank you goes out to Renwhar, Tide, Chloe, Rahi, Amraj, Jadi-Ann, AdamSpeaks and Annotate for sharing their poetry on the night – I could not do it without you.  Also, a big thank you to everyone who came out to support.  I appreciate you all.

Poetic Insight is back on April 24th when the theme will be ‘Violence’.  You will definitely not want to miss it, so be sure to save the date and come to Project B from 7-9pm.  If you would like to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or get in contact through social media.

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 This March?

You wouldn’t believe March was here with the blankets of snow decorating the UK, but it is and we’ve got another month of events planned for you, with some other exciting things coming up.

International Women’s Day is next week, meaning that a number of events are coming up to celebrate and I have been asked to speak at a couple of them, which means a lot.  Croydon Council’s Women’s Staff Network are holding their main community event at BoxPark Croydon next Wednesday from 5.30-8.30pm, which I will be speaking at from about 6.45pm.

Croydon BME Forum are collaborating with Glowing Futures and Bromley & Croydon’s Women’s Aid to hold an event to celebrate women’s strengths next Friday from 1.30-6pm.  I will be speaking for a little longer at this event, but I’m not sure about the time I’ll be speaking yet.

On another note, I will be hosting a question time event for the Croydon Young Mayor Elections 2018 at Stanley Halls from 7-9pm.  Come and support if you can, but in the meantime, check out the candidates and their campaigns aims.

After Stephen’s successful turn at hosting The Kickback last month, I’ll be back to lead the conversation on ‘Purpose’ on March 20th.  Purpose was chosen by Andrae, which I think will lead to a deep conversation.

Save the date and come down to Project B from 6.30-8.30pm, although the conversation usually starts at 7pm.  Register here: bit.ly/letstalkaboutpurpose

Unfortunately, I cancelled this week’s Poetic Insight because of the weather, but it will be returning on March 27th at the usual time of 7-9pm at Project.  The theme for March will be ‘Existence’ and because of the cancellation, it will be combined with the ‘Love & Hate’ theme.

If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or send a message to 07910092565, and I’ll add your name to the list.  Register for your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsightexistence

I really missed seeing you all in February, so I can’t wait to see you this month and spread the love.  Enjoy the rest of March and I hope you stay warm in this cold.

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.