Celebrating Two Years at Poetic Insight

One thing that remains constant about Young People Insight is that I never know what to expect – apart from being sure of dynamic conversation at The Kickback and being inspired at Poetic Insight.

Any thoughts or notions I had about Poetic Insight on January 30th completely went out the window once the event finally came around, which was a little hard for me to take at first, but it was a reminder to never have expectations because it means you can never be disappointed.

Celebrating two years of YP Insight made it a special night, especially with the presence of cake and singing ‘Happy Birthday’ at the end with some amazing people, but it was tough having over half of the artists on the set list drop out.  Attendance numbers were also vastly lower than the first birthday celebrations, but as I have to keep reminding myself, I cannot focus on the numbers and I need to remember why I started this platform in the first place.

YP Insight is about young people having an outlet to make themselves heard and be listened to by others in return.  It is giving young poets an opportunity to develop their confidence on a stage and share their work for the first time.  It is about creating a caring community of individuals that supports, motivates and respects each other.  It is about changing the life of even just one person; numbers should not be a priority.

As I said earlier, it was a special night and the poetry was stellar as usual.  There is so much young talent around, it’s unfair that they are consistently overlooked.

DanielWrites returned to the Poetic Insight stage for the first time since performing at the celebrations for our first birthday last January.  He went back to the “classics” and shared two beautiful poems.

Taking to the Poetic Insight stage for the first time was Mia, who shared her compelling spoken word poem, Questions, inspired by regular questioning.  Mia was also the first poet on our stage asked to repeat her poem in its entirety – Questions definitely went down well.

Stephen also came onstage for the first time and shared work that he wanted to get feedback on.  His deep words provided us with a greater insight into who he is, which was very special.

Laurence was the final individual to jump onstage, wowing us with David Clapton, a powerful political piece that forces you to consider the broken benefits system.

I also performed, getting political with some spoken word poems of my own, focusing on various American sports leagues and the issues prevalent in them.

A huge thank you has to go out to Daniel, Mia, Stephen and Laurence for sharing their work on the night, and a huge thank you also has to go out to everyone who came on the night.  I appreciate all of you.

Poetic Insight returns February 27th and the theme will be ‘Love & Hate’, as it’s Valentine’s month and all.  If you would like to perform, email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com.  Looking forward to seeing you again soon.

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.

Celebrating Two Years at The Kickback

On January 16th, it was The Kickback with a twist  as we celebrated two years of Young People Insight.  There wasn’t a discussion this month; instead we heard from a number of speakers who had supported me along the way.

After I told the story of how YP Insight came into being, we heard from Ian, who provided plenty of advice and support during my time at LNK between 2013 and 2014 – “I’ve got a fantastic admiration for her determination and what she’s achieved.”

Ian told us that he started out running a youth enterprise charity and was later commissioned to work with young people by the council.  Ian continues to work with young people (he currently works with refugees) and previously worked with individuals in foster care or young offenders.

Ian gave us plenty of words of encouragement and useful anecdotes, including:

  • “If you want to feel good, give a gift to somebody else.”
  • “We’ve all got a passion… Try and get out of a comfort zone.”
  • “Believe in one another.”
  • “Saying thank you is a great gift.”

Ian also introduced us to Mohammed – a young man who met Ian at LNK – who shared his story with us.  Mohammed came from a care background and got onto Springboard, which led to him getting on to a hospitality programme and he has now cooked for celebrities and high-profile individuals.  “If you have a passion, go for it,” he told us.  “Don’t give up on your dreams.”

We later hear from Frances, the final editor of Live Mag UK (which came under the youth-led creative network, Livity), who has also worked at different media organisations.  “I think it’s a really amazing project and I hope it grows,” she expressed about YP Insight.

Frances started out as an intern for Live Mag after graduating from university, as she wanted to be a journalist.  “Live was really important,” she said.  “You could be writing about American Football and then the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Frances’ advice and encouragement during my time at Live Mag played an important part in helping me to become a better writer and develop in confidence.  Frances was also one of the young people I had speaking at the forum on Dreams back in May 2016.

Joan from Off The Record was next to speak.  Joan is a community development worker, mainly for people from a BME background, who I met through social media.  We worked together to create a survey on self-harm, which was a collaboration I enjoyed and gained a lot from.

Joan expressed that YP Insight is young people leading the way and she believes that there should be more of it.  She also thinks that there are so many people doing things for young people without young people in the room, which needs to change.

Naomi, who is developing as a music producer and is part of a project that helps young people to put on live music events, called Tun Up, shared the role she has had in my journey.  From when I met her on the Creative Futures programme in 2014, to when we solidified out friendship in Bosnia as part of The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) in August 2015, to being part of my short film with Fixers, What Would You Say, in September 2015.

Andrae – who currently works in finance for the NHS and is a co-founder of the fashion brand, L’S UP Official – was the final speaker of the night.  I met Andrae back when I was at LNK and we were later on the Creative Futures programme together.  He has been a constant at YP Insight since the first forum in January 2015, regularly contributing to conversations, bringing friends and networking like a pro – YP Insight “gave me confidence to speak out,” he said.

When funding was offered at the end of the Creative Futures programme, Andrae did not get it, because he didn’t really know what he wanted to do at the time.  However, being on the programme helped him to figure out what he wanted to do.  I remember him telling me that he wanted to design clothes all those years back, so seeing him with his own fashion brand now makes me extremely proud.

I also read out words from my supporters who could not be present on the day.  First there was Alison from In Place of War, one of the leads from the Creative Futures programme, who always believed in my abilities and introduced me to TCFT.  Teresa from Incredible Brilliant Youth, one of my mentors and former Talent Coach, who has played a major part in helping me to increase my confidence.

Tina, the director of TCFT, another one of my mentors, constantly providing me with advice and guiding me in my growth as a youth leader.  And last but not least, Jes of Crowdfund 360, the brilliant individual who trained and enabled me to run a successful crowdfunding campaign last year.

To end, I asked if anyone wanted to share their favourite moments from YP Insight over the past two years.  Rebecca said that hers was when Alana was speaking about what she wants in a man during our forum on Dating and Romance.

Jason liked the forum on Violent Crime, because of the dynamic of the different ages coming together with the representatives from  JAGS Foundations.  He also said, “One thing I like about yours is you always have the best snacks.”

However, my favourite moment of the night was Fez, a YP Insight newcomer, being amazingly open with us.  Fez was brave enough to share a bit of his past and speak publicly in a group of this particular size for the first time.  Those moments are what Young People Insight is all about and it is individuals like Fez who motivate me to do what I do.

Thank you to everyone who has supported and I hope that you will continue to celebrate with us at Poetic Insight on January 30th, from 7-9.30pm in Project B.

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.

Looking Back at Two Years of Young People Insight

I can’t believe it has been two years already; time has flown by ridiculously fast.  Thinking back to my first forum (as it was known then) in January 2016, when I had finally thrown myself into the deep end and was getting an idea of what people wanted for the platform, I never imagined how far it would come.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to start a platform that genuinely impact the lives of young people not just for a season, but for years to come.  Too often, initiatives start and then disappear into the ether – I did not want Young People Insight to be one of them.

This has required a great level of commitment and strength over the past two years, as it is easy to become inconsistent and not take a voluntary role seriously.  However, I am deeply serious about YP Insight, which I hope shines through, and I determined to make a real difference in my community through this platform.

Nevertheless, there have been countless occasions when I have wanted to give up entirely.  Some times it was due to getting caught up in the numbers game, believing that there was no point of carrying on if barely anyone was there.  On other occasions, I questioned if I was making any difference at all.  And then there were the times when life had gotten too much, as I battled with grief, believing in myself and being burnt out.

Through it all, I prayed though and was continuously reminded of why I was doing this in the first place.  I wanted to reach out to young people, empower them and gave them a space to not only make their voices heard, but actually feel that they were being heard in a safe environment where they would be welcomed, loved and accepted.

From what others have told me, I have succeeded in creating this type of environment, which makes me feel touched and extremely happy.  I always feel great inside when individuals feel comfortable enough to open up and share their personal stories – that is what YP Insight is all about.

For me, some of the most special moments at our events have been when people have opened up unexpectedly.  One particular occasion was when Angela took to the stage at our Mental Health themed Poetic Insight to share her experience with mental health problems, which had the room entranced and members of the audience in tears.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

I guess that leads on to some of my favourite memories over the past two years.  I always love having guest speakers at The Kickback, and I especially loved when Stephanie, Matthew, Frances, Kyle and Jason shared their dreams and inspirational stories so far when we focused on the topic of Dreams in May 2015.  Everyone was incredibly engaged and each of their stories was inspiring – that event felt like a real turning point for me.

Stephen leading out on the Online Dating edition of The Kickback was also one of my favourites, as the conversation was so much fun and Stephen did a brilliant job on leading out on a session for the first time.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of that this year.

One of my funniest memories was at our first games night in December 2016.  We were playing charades and Darnell acted out one of the most intense, hilarious sequences I’d ever seen when he was given the song, Hit Me Baby One More Time.  Words cannot describe it, you needed to have been there to see it.

Some of my most stand out YP Insight memories have come from the poetry nights.  There was of course, Poetic Insight: Mental Health in May 2017, which resulted in a level of raw emotion in the room that I had never seen before.  Celebrating our first birthday at Poetic Insight was a truly special occasion, with a full room of support and some ridiculously talented poets.

April’s Poetic Insight will forever be a stand out for me as well, because it was pure fire, which included Annotate’s poem about young people that perfectly sums up YP Insight and our first ever wheel up for first-time performer, Tania.

I’ve loved watching first-time performers take to the stage, sharing a bit of themselves with us and growing in confidence.  One of my proudest moments last year was watching Jack, a first-time performer at Poetic Insight in January, as a feature at Well Versed Ink‘s poetry night.  Occasions like that make YP Insight worth it.

It’s also been a joy to watch young people grow in confidence and feel able to make their voices heard, or lead out on events for the first time.  It’s meant a lot to be able to watch friendships form and new connections develop.  Most of all, I’ve cherished being a part of the journeys of these individuals and observing the great things the continue to do in their lives.

I’ve learnt and gained a lot over the past two years, and I’m continuing to learn more all the time.  There is still a lot of work to do in order for me to take YP Insight to new heights and I intend to get even more happening this year – I wanted to have implemented workshops from last year, but unfortunately that did not happen.

One major factor is that I cannot do all of this all myself, so building the right team is going to be one of the priorities for 2018.  If you’re interested in joining the team, get in touch at youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com

I want to finish by saying a huge thank you to all of you who have supported and been involved in YP Insight over the past two years – none of this would be possible without you.  I hope that this platform continues for many years to come and that it will empower a number of young leaders for our present and future.

Looking Back, Moving Forward at Our Final Event of 2017

On December 19th, The Kickback joined with Poetic Insight for the first time for our final event of 2017, ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’.  This was the time for us to have a conversation that looked back at another year of Young People Insight and considered how we could move forward, followed by poetry from amazing talent.

I started off by asking regular participants of YPI what their favourite thing about YPI was this year and what topics they most enjoyed talking about.  Alana’s favourite topic was Synthetic Beauty vs Natural Beauty, as she enjoyed listening to people and getting insight from others.  Andrae thought Culture was really important, because it is still going on right now.  Jamal really liked Life Goals, as he enjoyed having the opportunity to give insight and make new connections.

After looking back at what we spoke about this year, I wanted to know what topics individuals would like to see discussed at The Kickback next year.  Ideas included were:

  • Politics
  • What do you think of Donald Trump being president?
  • Travel and culture
  • Healthy relationships, also covering child sexual exploitation and paedophilia
  • How society determines your age
  • Image perception
  • Health, also covering obesity
  • What is poetry, which could be combined with Poetic Insight
  • Youth violence
  • Parallel realities
  • Going to uni does not lead to success in life
  • Purpose/existence

Coming up with topics was great and got me excited for next year, as dynamic and thoughtful discussions were taking place simply as we were choosing particular topics.  When talking about youth violence, Omar made a really great point, expressing that we’re all leaders in our own way and that we should be our own leader.

Another recommendation was a return to the topic of mental health, which was partly raised by representatives from OASIS, a local health service that offers support to young people aged 14-35, who are experiencing psychological distress and also does community work.

We are hoping that Carolyn, Sharon and Isaac from OASIS will be returning to lead out on a Kickback session next year and maybe put on a workshop of some kind, as we can definitely learn from them and they seem to understand how YPI can aid good mental health in young people.  Isaac thinks that the arts are a beautiful way of expressing themselves, while Carolyn believes that writing and performing has a really important impact on people’s well-being.

Beverly also responded to what Carolyn said about writing, telling us, “Writing is beautiful for me.  I can write what I feel inside of me.”

I also wanted to know what themes others wanted covered at Poetic Insight next year.  Recommendations were:

  • Existence
  • The Dark Side/Shadow Side
  • Survival
  • Dreams and Goals

When I asked what other events participants would like to see put on, Alana suggested debate nights and team building, while Jamal strongly put forward networking events.  We also spoke about what other organisations or individuals to approach to speak at future events or run workshops, as well as how others wanted to get involved.

We didn’t touch too much on what could be improved, although conversations were had about boosting the social media presence and maybe adapting the time that The Kickback begins.  However, I still would like to get advice on what improvements can be made and what else you may want to see happen over 2018.

After wrapping up our conversation and getting a little social, it was time to enjoy some poetry to see out YPI in 2017 just as it had begun.  Alana was first on stage with two incredibly open and honest poems that we all appreciated, followed by Jamal who shared two powerful pieces that had everyone entranced.

Lady Poe graced the Poetic Insight stage for the first time, captivating us with her beautiful words and deep imagery.  Diego returned for the second time, going real deep with a raw spoken word performance about family and life in the ends.

Miss Yankey returned to perform two fire spoken word pieces and Annotate finished off the night strong, sharing a beautifully personal poem about a friend who got stabbed.

It was another special night of inspiration and getting to know new faces, paving the way for even bigger things in 2018.  We’ll be back on January 16th, celebrating two years of YPI with a very special edition of The Kickback from 6.30-9pm.  The celebrations will continue on January 30th for a special edition of Poetic Insight, which will bring in music alongside poetry.  If you want to perform, send a message to 07910092565 or email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk

Thank you to everyone who has been part of the journey and taken time to read the blog this year.  Have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I’m looking forward to seeing you in 2018.

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.

Participants Share Their 2017 YP Insight Experience Pt. 2

As we approach our final event of 2017, when we’ll be looking back at another year of Young People Insight, some of the individuals who have been involved in the platform this year will be sharing their YP Insight experience in 2017.  Today, some first time participants and regular attendants share what the YP Insight events have been like for them.

The Kickback was an engaging, insightful, honest evening that left me inspired and hopeful. To hear a plethora of voices, both young & old, was a real pleasure. We spoke of culture, identity, oppression and history; however the uniting thread was the human experience. These varying perspectives were offered a platform through ambient setting & fluid conversation; I look forward to going back.

– Jenniah


Young People Insight is an excellent platform that provides an outlet for young adults to come together and engage in relevant discussions regarding current affairs. In addition to this, it provides a forum for up and coming poets to perform poetry on a wide array of pertinent subjects.

The host and the regular YPI audience are respectful and welcoming, and each performer receives a warm reception, both prior to and after a performance. I hope that 2018 sees the same level of commitment from its founder, Shaniqua Benjamin, as 2017 has been a fantastic year for Young People Insight.

– Liam (Annotate)


YP Insight for me has really been outstanding, the work that has been put in to each event this year is exactly what is missing and definitely needed from local communities and boroughs. Where the government has failed to accommodate for the young people’s voices and opinions, YPI has done more than just pick up the slack. I definitely feel that young people of today haven’t really been given that platform to really speak up on issues that affect their lives and decisions made on their behalf.

Through the monthly forums and poetry nights, YPI is giving people the platform to be heard and feel like someone is listening and taking notice, but not just voice our issues and opinions. YP Insight has also been great for connecting with some great people who you probably might not have met anywhere else. I’ve seen regular guests at the events grow from strength to strength, they have come out of their shell so much and that’s all down to YPI, giving us that stage.

We live in a very social media orientated society so most people usually only post their opinions through online web forums and Facebook/Twitter, so to have that platform where we can all meet face to face has been great.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to attend all the monthly events throughout the year but the ones I have been to have always been fantastic. You can just see the passion and graft that has been put in from the special guests brought in designated to each specific topic. YP Insight has touched on things that this government has failed to deal with or control, such as mental health and cyber bullying – to be able to really get stuck into such discussions has been a breath of fresh air to say the least.

2017 has been a great year in terms of what’s already been done and I can only expect bigger and greater things ahead from the YP Insight project.

– Hakeem


Young People Insight was a great space to express myself and listen to others within the community. The personal and collective struggles we face are vocalised through general conversations, as well as poetic art forms.

The atmosphere is always warm – I wouldn’t consider myself shy, but the space in which YPI operates in makes me feel very eager to participate in the discussions which covered a broad range of topics.

I don’t really perform my poetry often so the chances I had at the poetry nights alleviated that aspect of myself, as well as hearing other talented poets voice their truths.

Above all else, the platform itself is amazing, to all those that contribute and attend there is a unifying aura which allows me to connect with the others very easily. Very well done to Shaniqua for manifesting such a conducive platform, on a personal level, as well as for the community as a whole.

– Gus


I performed my first poetry piece at Poetic Insight some months ago in the month of July. I saw it as an opportunity for me to share my work with others, work that I was proud of and enjoyed writing. Although I was reasonably nervous about performing, I knew I was going to perform that night and believed it would be healthy progression for my self-development.

From what I had seen of the poetry nights on the Poetic Insight Facebook page prior to my performance, it seemed immensely appealing. I wanted to participate in this gathering of young people within the borough I am from. Not only for poetry based reasons, but also for socialising needs.

I was intentional and proactive in my hope of broadening my social circle, and obtaining opportunities to meet a diverse range of people. This setting proved to be ideal for socialising with various people who also appreciate creative outlets such as poetry. The environment and atmosphere was welcoming, pure, relaxing, safe, and worthwhile. I look forward to future times together.

– Jadi-Ann

Participants Share Their 2017 YP Insight Experience

As we approach our final event of 2017, when we’ll be looking back at another year of Young People Insight, some of the individuals who have been involved in the platform this year will be sharing their YP Insight experience in 2017.  Today, a number of the poets who performed at our celebratory Poetic Insight back in January share the impact YP Insight has had on them.

First of all I felt it was a privilege for Shaniqua and the Young People Insight team to grant me the opportunity to celebrate the 1st birthday of YPI, especially as it’s fulfilling a wonderful purpose in so many people’s lives.

But secondly, I am also grateful as it was my first spoken word performance outside of university and it was perfect. The audience was amazing; the team was not also helpful but made me feel welcome to also participate in other projects such as writing a poem for the crowdfunding campaign that raised awareness for young people.

It’s propelled me into believing I can do anything I set my mind upon and made me look back on the year with a sense of accomplishment; ’til this day I still perform that poem.

I wish nothing but the best for Young People Insight .

YPI to the world and back!

– Daniel Johnson (DanielWrites)


My year with YP Insight has been an experience that I’ll never forget. It has allowed me to be a part of a creative community that have been really supportive of and key to my growth. Without their encouragement and advice, I wouldn’t be so confident in myself and my abilities.

Many of the young people I have met have become more than just those who I only meet at YP Insight’s events. Their reoccurring faces at events where I perform has allowed me to realise the importance of YP insight. This journey has been an amazing one and everywhere I go, every time I perform, I remember why I am able to do what I am doing today.

It is because of organisations such has as YP Insight who have enabled me to clearly articulate myself in a creative way, be comfortable with who I am and carry myself courageously whenever I am nervous or in a state of self-doubt. Not only have I been given the opportunity to perform at their open mic nights, but I have also performed at their other events, been a part of their crowdfunding campaign and participated in their forums.

– Jamal


My YPI experience began at the beginning of this year, when I attended a poetry event at Matthews Yard in January. I was unaware that the founder of YPI and the host of the event was Shaniqua Benjamin; and was pleasantly surprised to find it was, as we attended the same secondary school.

It was not planned for me to go, it was pretty much spur of the moment.
I was very nervous, and it was awesome that there was familiar faces there. I was not down on the list to perform that evening, but Shaniqua kindly managed to allow time for me to share, which was greatly appreciated.

My first ever performance was at a Young People Insight event, the audience was warm and receptive and it was a very lovely evening; filled with effortless talent.

Since this YPI has been nothing but supportive and encouraging, during their crowd-funding campaign I contributed a poem titled ‘Blessings’ and I was also involved in the Festive Fantasia projection project, highlighting the positives of Croydon, combining three poems and read beautifully by Shaniqua. I would not have had these opportunities had it not been for YPI, it is a brilliant youth platform which strives to allow freedom of expression.

– Ashan


Young People Insight. The name that means the world to me. And quite literally. The place that birthed me. The people that nurtured me. The movement that exerts itself to me. To you. To everyone.

Young People Insight singlehandedly created the performer that I am today. I’d started writing some pieces and I was honoured and overwhelmed to be invited by the founder of Young People Insight, Shaniqua Benjamin, to perform. I was invited into an environment where I finally felt at home. I finally felt that sense of belonging, the sense of having a family; of people who looked nothing like me, a vast amount of differences, yet we all had something in common. The love for the poetry, the love for the spoken word, the love for the rhymes, the love for the emotions. The love.

We all loved something about what we was hearing, and in a time like this love is all you need. And because of the likes of Young People Insight, we all, especially younger people, get to experience this beautiful sensation of life. Whenever someone asks me about how I got into spoken word, without a split second of hesitation, Young People Insight rolls of my tongue straight away.

The creatives behind the movement are nothing but genuine, caring, supportive and loving and I genuinely cannot thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me. They started my journey and God willing they see me throughout the entirety of my walk.

– Jack

Guest Post: My Review of Young People Insight in 2017

As we approach our final event of 2017, when we’ll be looking back at another year of Young People Insight, some of the individuals who have been involved in the platform this year will be sharing their YP Insight experience in 2017.  First up is regular attendee, Alana Monet-Telfer, who looks back on how much she has grown since getting involved in the platform.

I found being at Young People Insight this year one of the most inspirational, fun, and insightful experiences I have been too for a long time.

What I first like about this group is that you’re not just a person attending and listening – you become involved in the conversations, people want to hear your opinion, and the people do respect your opinion there; even if it does not match up with their own beliefs and opinions.

A difference of opinion or view at Young People Insight does not mean separation, or that people can’t get along. It means we can learn to understand each other, and even learn something new in the process.

It was not only my views that got me involved within the group. It was also being given the opportunity to lead a discussion topic out, with my own questions. For one night I was doing what the founder of the group does every month, which is to lead the conversation (the topic being Synthetic Beauty vs Natural Beauty), ask questions, and take down notes of a variety of answers from the people who attended to discuss this topic.

For me this would have been very difficult to do a few years ago, since I was not confident, and didn’t talk a lot when I first came to the group.  This has all changed since attending this group for nearly two years. My confidence has grown immensely thanks to their natural desire to hear my voice; and what I can offer to the others in that group.

I was encouraged to contribute as well, by writing my own spoken word poetry, to perform at their events. I have written spoken word poetry before, but never performed them, until I was offered to by Young People Insight.  This helped me get out of my comfort zone, improve my performance skills, and share a unique bond with every person who heard my poems, who could also relate to them in some way.

My spoken word skills were required also to help with a special project in Croydon called Festive Fantasia.  It felt great to write a poem, which had a huge and positive impact on the town of Croydon. It showed me that my words, the way I write them, and what I can give to the world, is vital and very significant.

I feel happy knowing that with the help of Young People Insight, I can help others find their importance, and share their gifts in their own way.

To conclude, I found Young People Insight a place I needed to be, to gain confidence, express myself as I am, and become the confident, creative, and continually succeeding person I am now.

Thank you, Young People Insight.