Relationships Formed at Poetic Insight

Relationships was the theme for Poetic Insight on November 28th, aptly following on from the topic of Online Dating at The Kickback a week before.  However, I wanted to emphasise that relationships are more than just romance, which let to a great mixture of poems on different types of relationships.

As you probably know by now, we love welcoming new performers to the Poetic Insight stage and this month was no different, with three individuals coming to the stage for the first time.  Diego was the first person to take to the stage, sharing a really sweet poem based on that elusive phrase, “I miss you.”  On the other hand, Kris closed out the show with a fire piece of spoken word about his relationship with London.

Newcomer, Chantelle, used poetical language to give us a very honest insight into a relationship she had with another poet.  Considering it was her first time at Poetic Insight, it was amazing at how open and honest she was with us.  Mahmoud was also incredibly open with us,  as we welcomed him back for the second time,  sharing a poem about a romantic relationship he had engaged in relatively recently.

Completing the line up for the night were what I would now call Poetic Insight veterans.  Rhianna graced the stage twice, first letting us know that she would always be there and then she got into a situation that a lot of us girls have experienced with guys who are not interested in relationships, but just casual hook ups.

Alana took to the stage twice as well, with two pieces of spoken word that focused on relationships that are often bypassed.  Her initial poem focused on developing the relationship she has with herself and the second one touched on our relationships with each other, as she urged us to integrate and show love to one another.

Annotate only came on stage once, but he shared two moving poems about family relationships.  The first was a beautiful poem about an estranged sister he misses, which he followed up with ‘Gratitude’, a really special poem about his younger brother who has autism and Down’s Syndrome.

We also had Kat from the production company, Electric Ray, present on the night.  Kat took the Poetic Insight stage towards the beginning to tell us about a project she is working on, which is all about estranged family relationships and possibly rebuilding those connections.  If you are interested in learning more, please email kat.airy@electricray.com

It was a really enjoyable night filled with talent and amazing people in the room, which I am continuing to forge and develop relationships with, and I can’t wait to carry these relationships forward.

Poetic Insight will combine with The Kickback on December 19th for our final event of 2017.  We’ll be ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’ as I continue to develop Young People Insight going into its second year.  However, there is no theme for the poetry, so you can speak out on whatever you want, but you need to get in touch with me ASAP if you would like to perform, because performance slots are limited.  Email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or send a message to 07910092565 to let me know.

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 in November?

We’re officially into the penultimate month of the year and beginning to head into the festive season, which should be a lot of fun.  November is already proving to be a more relaxed month than October, but we still have some great things coming up for you this month.

This month, I was asked to be part of ‘Croydon’s Festive Fantasia’ and contribute a poem celebrating Croydon that would be projected onto a number of buildings in the town centre.  Three amazing poets who have performed at Poetic Insight – Ashan, Alana (aka Authentic Alanie) and Jennelle – created three gorgeous poems that I combined into one and had the privilege of recording.

The projected poem will premier on Saturday 18th November at 5pm in North End, along with the five other giant animations, but you will then be able to see them between 4.30pm and 9.30pm until Saturday, 23rd December.  So if you can, come along to the launch on Saturday and look out for the special poem by these talented ladies.

On November 21st, The Kickback returns for another dynamic, mind-opening conversation.  We’ll be talking Online Dating, as suggested by the wonderful Stephen who spoke to our hearts at the end of last week’s Poetic Insight.  Stephen will also be taking the lead this month, which will be an exciting change.

If you haven’t yet, save the date now, come down to Project B from 6.30-8.30pm and have your say on Online Dating.  You can register for the event here: http://bit.ly/letstalkaboutonlinedating

A week later we’ll be at Poetic Insight and the theme for November is Relationships, which is open for personal interpretation – relationships don’t have to mean romance.  If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist, come ready to make your voice on relationships.  If you want to perform, send a message to 07910092565 or get in touch with us on social media.

Again, save the date and join us in Project B from 7-9pm.  I think it will be another beautiful night.  Register for your free tickets here: http://bit.ly/poeticinsight-relationships

And just in case you didn’t know, I was named the winner of Young Achiever of the Year award at the 2017 Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards last month, which was a special and emotional moment for me.  I genuinely did not expect to win, but I could not have won without all of you who have been involved with Young People Insight.  I appreciate you and look forward to seeing you 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.

On Our Black-Ish at Poetic Insight

On October 31st, we saw out Black History Month at another special Poetic Insight.  Our theme for the night was Black-Ish, which led to a variety of beautiful, powerful and inspiring poetry delivered by young talent.

First we heard from Nyasha, who returned to the Poetic Insight stage after some time away and celebrated the beauty of natural hair, which I’m sure many females in the audience could relate to.

Poetic Insight regular, Authentic Alanie, shared a poem inspired by two of her favourite things, Autumn and Africa, which resulted in some gorgeous imagery.  Mahmoud took to our stage for the first time, passionately expressing his African heritage and the life he’s living, and also inspired us with a poem he wrote just 15 minutes earlier.

Gus made us all think with a variety of poems, which got deep into the beauty of blackness, and Natalie graced our stage for the first time to remind us that it’s time to unite through a thoughtful spoken word piece.

Sid returned to perform a Poetic Insight favourite, ‘Prayer for the Oppressed’, reminding us of the importance to have consideration, respect and care for all.  Aaron was also back after some time away, sharing a powerful spoken word piece about unhealthy information, while also letting us know that skin colours shouldn’t be divided.

The final performance of the night was from Annotate, who brought the house down with a spoken word piece about the divides and horror of humanity.  It was fire.

However, what made the night even more special was a point of poignancy from Stephen, who urged us to reach out and speak to the teenagers around us in a bid to ease some of the tensions in society.  He emphasised the point with a personal anecdote of his own, which moved all of us and caused us to think about what we could do to make a little difference in our community.

Moments like this are what Young People Insight is all about as we work towards being the change we want to see.

Poetic Insight returns on November 28th when the theme will be Relationships, which is open to interpretation – relationships aren’t always about romance after all.  Save the date and if you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or send a message to 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.

The Game-changing App Developing Student Employability

Although you may be enjoying the bliss of the summer holidays now, in a few weeks it will be time to prepare for the start or return to university. The thought may fill some with glee and others with horror, especially when thinking about the prospect of money. Costs of living continue to rise, but the work load won’t let up and the last thing you want to do is fail.

This is where a new, innovative app like Toptask is a game-changer. Toptask connects university students to individuals and businesses, allowing them to find jobs around them without having to commit to part-time work.

Students are able to earn some money to keep their head above water, but in this case they are able to fit paid work around their study timetables. Jobs available to students on Toptask are also likely to pay more than your typical part-time job, as they earn a minimum of £10 an hour.

Many graduates will also recall the difficulty of finding a full-time job after leaving university without the necessary experience. Toptask provides students with the opportunity to “gain valuable work experience and develop skills that will help them kick-start their professional careers”, making it a brilliant resource that I wish I had access to when I was at studying at university.

George Holdaway is studying Physics MSci at University College London and has been using Toptask since August 2016. He says that “the tasks are challenging but rewarding, they provide one with an opportunity to stretch one’s own capabilities. It’s not like other student jobs, we are doing real things for real companies.”

Nevertheless, there is a major drawback in that the app is solely based in London, making its services less accessible for students outside of the city. However, Toptask’s marketing manager, Tatiana Middleton, hopes that the company will spread.

Founder Gregory Newman, who developed Toptask as a solution to a problem he had while on holiday, makes sure that Toptask practices what it preaches. Although it is managed by a senior team, the day-to-day running of the platform is carried out by a team of skilled students and recent graduates. This also includes generating all marketing materials, media and website content. The individuals running the platform also use the app themselves, bringing even more students in.

As well as bringing students in through using the app, Toptask “provides support to young achievers still at school through its scholarship programme.” A percentage of the fees paid are put into a programme that gives young people from all backgrounds the chance to attend university, meaning that employers are not only getting quality work done for a reasonable cost, but also positively contributing to the futures of young people.

Anna Smithson has used Toptask as an employer. She works for the company Airsorted, which ended up taking on two students they met through the app as summer interns. When describing her experience using Toptask, Anna says, “We’ve had some excellent temps who we’ve had either on a recurring basis or have hired as contractors for the summer. They’ve helped us assess the resource needed in a new area of the business and supported the current need while we develop new projects.”

Since its launch at the end of 2016, the app has signed up thousands of employers and students across London, showing that there is definitely a want and need for this type of service. Toptask is also working in partnership with several major London universities, which is likely to build its client base and further improve the services it offers.

University of Essex student, Bekhruz Khazratov, said: “Toptask provides a great opportunity for students to study and work at the same time. It is also very helpful for students to practice their skills while studying.”

As I mentioned towards the beginning, I believe that this app is a game-changer for students and the opportunities will be even greater if they are able to expand outside London. By using Toptask, students are more financially sound, while being able to focus on their studies and gain the experience they will need after graduating. What more could you want?

Reflecting on The Complete Freedom of Truth Croydon

On August 20th, I finally achieved my goal of bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) to my home town of Croydon.  This is a project that I love and means more to me than I can describe – you properly have to see my eyes brighten and face light up when I speak about it and all that it’s done for me.

Getting the TCFT Croydon pilot to happen was hard work, despite running only for one day, mainly because I began planning for it in June.  I was ready to give up twice, but fortunately I persevered and was able to watch a beautiful day take place.

A group of us gathered on a Sunday to bring something new to Croydon, develop relationships and explore our truths through art. We broke the ice and got our minds ready with a morning warm up led by Daisy.  We were joined by the Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Toni Letts, and her consort, who got involved too, followed by the Mayor saying a few words.

Morning Warm Up by Robert Golden.

The main part of the day was the workshops, which I’m pleased to say were a success.  Music and photography rang out through Matthews Yard and beyond, poetry and theatre brought life to Project B, while art flowed through Turf Projects.  As I floated between each venue, I observed how enthused and engaged everyone was in their workshops, which calmed me down and made me smile.

Art Workshop by Robert Golden.

We also had a mini discussion, led by the brilliantly dynamic and inspiring Geraldine Sharpe-Newton, who empowered those in attendance and provided us with plenty of food for thought.  I hope that the young participants left the day with encouragement to become change-makers and not remain stagnant in society.

Discussion by Robert Golden.

One of my favourite parts of the pilot was watching the work created throughout the day come together in the final sharing of work at Braithwaite Hall.  Considering the short space of time each group had to create their pieces, I was extremely impressed with the quality and overwhelmed by what had been produced.  There was true talent in the room and I would love to have seen what they could have created in an extended length of time.

Considering my worries and anticipation, the day went really well and better than I could have imagined, although there is plenty of room for improvement.  I know I need to have some better time keeping, have a list of tasks to assign to volunteers and properly layout how the final sharing of work will run.  I also need to promote more and go into other organisations, telling them about TCFT.

Most of all, I need more time to plan and put everything together, which should be a lot easier next time, considering everything I’ve learnt and the various skills I’ve gained.  Going forward, I know that I’ll need some training for certain aspects and a bigger team of people to work with, who will definitely be able to commit their time to carrying out tasks.

Theatre Workshop by Robert Golden.

The main point of the TCFT Croydon pilot was to see if it would work and if there was a want for TCFT in Croydon.  Looking back on the day, I saw that it does work and there is definitely a want for it in Croydon, but more people need to know about TCFT and understand what the project is.  I can see that it has the ability to grow, host more regular projects in Croydon and contribute towards a more united, democratic society.

The Mayor of Croydon’s Hands by Rachel Dunford.

 

To finish, I want to say a big thank you to my co-facilitator Naomi, who created all of the gorgeous graphics and marketing imagery for the day, and also facilitated the photography workshop.  A big thank you as well goes out to the truly amazing workshop facilitators for the day, who got the best out of our participants: Nikki, Liberty, Chimaine, Daisy, Humi and Cedoux.  The day could not have happened without you.

Big thanks goes out Robert and Skye for taking photos and capturing the day, ensuring that it would not be forgotten.  Big thanks also to my dad for preparing the food, my sister for registering everyone and holding down the information desk, and my mum for all of the help she gave throughout the day.

Thank you so much to Opera Circus for partnering with us on this project, helping with many of the legal aspects, and to Tina from Opera Circus for supporting me throughout the whole process.  I don’t think I could have done this without you mentoring me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of the volunteers who gave up their time on a Sunday to support, all of the participants who got so brilliantly involved in the day and also everyone else who helped me along the way in the organisation process.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to Matthews Yard and Turf Projects for supporting us by providing your beautiful spaces without asking me to pay a penny, and thank you to Project B for the use of your venue yet again.  And finally, a huge thank you to Croydon Council for your supporting and sponsoring us through the use of Braithwate Hall, and to FAB Croydon for sponsoring us through donation.  You were all a part of this day.

Poetry Workshop by Robert Golden.

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.