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.

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.

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.

Diversity & Brilliance Displayed at Poetic Insight

If you weren’t at Poetic Insight on April 25th, then you missed out, because it was fire!  The diversity and brilliance displayed by each young performer was truly special, making me feel honored to have them on the Poetic Insight stage.

When I see potential and talent like I saw on Tuesday, I feel incredibly proud to be a young person, yet incredibly frustrated with the media for not focusing enough on that.  The dialogue surrounding young people needs to change and this month’s Poetic Insight was another confirmation for me.

It was also great to look around and see the support in the room, as well as feel the love in the room.  There is no hate and disrespect at Poetic Insight – just art bringing people together and shining a light on important issues or matters of importance to us.  Again, I don’t understand why the arts are always suffering cuts, but that’s a whole different matter.

We had our first ever Poetic Insight wheel up, coming courtesy of first time performer Tania, who let us know she was proud of her beautiful black skin.  Sid had the room click, click, clicking with a poem about religion and Alana had us all cracking up laughing again with that poem about sagging pants.

And then there was Annotate, who perfectly summed up the reason for me starting Young People Insight with a powerful poem about young people and them not seeing their potential.  Moments like that are very special and I won’t be taking it for granted.

Just like always, I want to say a huge thank you to the performers – Alana, Demi, Tania, Sid, Jamal, Annotate, Fahad and Gamma Kid – for gracing the Poetic Insight stage.  These nights would not be possible without you and your talent.

I also want to take this time out to appeal to you to support the Young People Insight crowdfunding campaign and make a pledge, so that I can continue to give young people a creative platform to make their voices heard.  It is more important than I can even express, so please head over to our campaign page: http://bit.ly/empower-youth-voice

The next Poetic Insight will be on May 30th and seeing as Mental Health Awareness Week will be happening at the beginning of the month, the theme will be Mental Health.  If you want to perform, email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk

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.

Freedom to Speak at Poetic Insight

Poetic Insight returned on March 28th for another inspiring night of poetry and spoken word from a group of talented young individuals. With no theme this month, we were treated to young people speaking their mind on a variety of topics.

Rhianna reminded us how hurtful our words can be to others, while Tony dropped some deep poetry about oppression.  Faith was an element throughout – Aaron let us know that Jesus has his back and Jack told us that we’re all beautiful because we’re made in God’s image.

Two of the most memorable moments of the night came from Alana, who expressed how sagging pants corrode our eyes, and Sid, who finished off the night strong with a spoken word piece touching on Islamaphobia, Syria and the USA.

I want to say a big thank you to Rhianna, Aaron, Alana, Tony, Jack, Melvis, Gamma Kid and Sid for making the night so special.  These events would not be possible without you.

A poem shared at the beginning of the night was sent in from Nina, a young person in Bosnia, who wrote about the anniversary of an artillery attack on Tuzla during the Bosnian war.  Here it is for you to read:

The Gate

The sky is grey today.
And it will never
be bright on this day.
I am gray today.

A place that always calms me
is now on my mind.
The air is evaporating
and I can’t breathe.

My heart is cramping
the bone in the throat is enormous,
my town is silent today,
as it was once…

Silent, quietly remembering
the beauty of colorful faces
the white skies and bright smiles.
Someone dared to destroy that.

I’m not here
but I feel something
missing in my heart
I feel a cramp.

How much more families would it have?
Would I meet their children,
maybe play with them?
Would I love?

I don’t know.

But it hurts that the clarity of my town
Was destroyed by a gray cloud and strong lightning,
and there was only liquid.
Are they not sorry?

Are they not thinking of the beauty of the taken souls,
the smiles so bright and sunny?
How can they not see
that they are the stain they pretend to clean?

My town aches me today
and the last thing I want to do is sing.
But that is the only way
I can show myself crying.

The next Poetic Insight will be on April 25th.  Like this month, there won’t be a theme, so let your creative juices flow and feel free to speak your mind on anything you want.  If you want to perform, email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk

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.