What makes a healthy relationship? – Part 1

The conversation at The Kickback on November 20th was all about Healthy Relationships, which I knew was going to be a great conversation, but I wasn’t prepared for how great it was going to be.  There was a whole lot of ground covered and a whole lot we couldn’t even get to – we genuinely needed another hour.  With so much said, I’m going to split what we spoke about into two parts, so that your brain doesn’t get too frazzled.

We were joined by Lisa from Tender, which is an arts charity currently in Croydon for two years.  Their focus is on healthy relationships and talking about what domestic abuse is.  “Our aim is to end violence against women and men,” Lisa said.  Tender uses creative ways to talk about relationships with young people, particularly drama – “Drama is an interesting tool to open up that conversation.”

After Lisa’s introduction, I began with the question, what is a relationship?  Gus’ response was a “connection between two people, but that may not even be a thing,” which Mhairi backed up by saying that it could be with yourself.

Mhairi also shared that she was thinking about addictions and things that are unhealthy when Gus spoke about having relationships with things.  Lisa took this further when she told us that she hears a lot of children speaking about their relationship with gaming.

When I asked, what makes a relationship healthy, Mhairi said that “most of the time, a healthy relationship is mutually beneficial.”  Gus counteracted this by saying that with a mother, you can give a lot and not necessarily get a lot back.

Tanica’s initial response was agape love – “You don’t ask for anything in return.  Everything comes from the heart.”  This led to extended  time speaking about agape love, as well as our relationships with family and friends.

Mhairi asked, “How often do we see agape love?”  Glenn said, “With family, it’s quite common, but with friends and other people, you’re not really gonna see it.”  However, Tanica shared that her friends have passed that hand of friendship and they are like family – “That’s where I see the love.”

I spoke about my confusion concerning the concept of family, not feeling that some of my blood family members actually felt like family at all, but that there are friends of mine who have become family and I literally see them as blood.

Mhairi feels like “family is very changeable” and that there are many aspects to family in the 21st Century that allow us to bring others in easily.  Lisa also shared, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that I’ve sort of created my own family… Like, what’s the definition anymore?”

Gus believes that the only way you know its unconditional love is if you’re put through the hardships with that person.  Lisa also thinks that “there’s something about the dynamics of different relationships and it’s important to separate… I don’t think unconditional love comes into romantic relationships.  I would gage them differently to my other relationships.

Other responses about what makes a relationship healthy included:

  • Balance – Rhianna
  • Accountability – Joan
  • Communication – Lisa
  • Understanding – Tanica
  • Respect and trust – Elisha
  • Lessons.  “Someone has to teach me something and I have to teach them something.” – Mhairi
  • Common interests.  “Sometimes we’re just coming together for the sake of coming together.” – Jennifer

Jennifer also said that you’ve got to love yourself how you want to be loved.  On the other hand, Mhairi believes that “some people don’t know what self-love is and still get married and stuff…  I think the idea of self-love has become very confusing.”  This led on to a whole other discussion about self-love, which was getting very deep and looking to go the distance, so I decided to give it a night of its own and we’ll be talking Self-Love in February next year.

Look out for Part 2, so you can get the full picture of our conversation and what was said when we spoke about relationships getting unhealthy, consent and violence against women.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram and liking Young People Insight.

Raising Awareness of Modern Slavery with CCAT

Anti-Slavery Day was on October 18th, so to mark the day and raise awareness of modern slavery, we collaborated with local organisation, Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) for a special event.

On October 16th, we combined discussion and poetry at Project B, giving individuals of all ages the opportunity to learn from each other and make their voices heard.

The conversation was started and led out by CCAT’s manager, Saima.  She informed us that CCAT can be divided into five programmes of work:

  1. Intelligence gathering, which is “at the heart of CCAT”
  2. Educational work
  3. Campaigns
  4. Community engagement
  5. Advocacy work.

Saima emphasised that CCAT really want communities to feel this is an issue they can respond to.  CCAT member Peter said, “When we talk to a lot of people, they say, “Wow, I didn’t realise.”  If we get people to think again or report, they feel they’ve done something.”

I asked the question, ‘What is your knowledge of modern slavery’, to get an idea of what those in attendance knew.  Maria’s response was, “It’s forced labour.  You’re not being paid, you’re held.”  She also said that its different sectors, as there’s a lot of it in the restaurant sectors.

“Trafficking is the movement part of it, which gets to the end point, which is slavery,” Saima explained.  “You can be trafficked from London to Birmingham.  It doesn’t have to be international,” Peter told us.

Saima went on to tell us the different forms of modern slavery and trafficking, which include:

  • Labour exploitation
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Domestic servitude, which is bringing people over for the purpose of working in the home
  • Organ harvesting – “It’s a difficult one, because you might now survive that process.”

What I found especially harrowing and hard-hitting was Saima saying, “We’re interacting with slavery on a daily basis.”

Joan asked if there has been an increase in people coming forward for support, to which Saima responded that it is increasing – “There are definitely more people emerging as survivors, but then you get into the issue of the immigration system.”  We learned that 40% of people are susceptible to being re-trafficked.

What was slightly shocking to learn was that the main nationality group of children being trafficked in the UK are UK children.  However, we also learned that this is because of county lines and the drug trade, called county lines because it is crossing counties.  It also turns out that Croydon has the highest number of children being trafficked across county lines.

“I heard young people talking about ‘going country’,” said Rachel, emphasising that county lines has been going on for a while, just under less formal terminology.  “It’s because of the saturation in London, they can make more money [in other counties]”.  Saima informed us that county lines is now a form of trafficking and a slavery offence.

A truly horrific statistic is that human trafficking is the third most profitable industry in the world.  “I think it will become the most lucrative trade in the world, because it can happen over, and over, and over,” said Anna.  Saima backed up this point by telling us that a lot of people who are trafficked into the UK have been trafficked multiple times.

Katherine posed the question of whether anyone is looking into root causes.  Peter thinks it is poverty, the promise of a better life, and the opportunity to make a career in something you couldn’t do otherwise.  Saima believes that there is “a sort of vulnerability that makes people more susceptible.”

Katherine also asked the question: “What is the main reason for people not reporting?”  Saima said that the main reason is fear, which could be fear of many things, including fear of the traffickers or fear of entering a foreign legal system.

“The justice and legal system don’t respond to trafficking and slavery the way they should… Once you’re into that system, you have immigration to deal with…  There isn’t that confidence for people to report,” Saima expressed.  Toni also made a great point, saying that if you’ve been in that situation for a long period of time, you become institutionalised.

I asked the question, why is slavery still a thing?  Lisa said poverty, while Liz said that there is a demand – some people want to buy cannabis, some people want to buy sex, so they see a need and supply that at whatever cost.  “Most people who purchase weed probably don’t know where it’s coming from,” said Megan.

Saima believes that it is also caught up in how we talk about immigration in this country.  Someone even said that some people in the modern slavery sector are essentially henchmen for the Home Office.

The final question I asked was, what can we do to prevent and combat modern slavery?  Responses included:

  • “Look at the places I’m going to, like places to get my nails done.” – Liz
  • “I think what CCAT’s doing, going into schools, is important…  It’s education and informing young people.” – Bethan
  • “Making it a talking point with your friends and family… Having awareness and keeping your eyes open.” – Lisa

“Coming to this has made me realise I need to listen to my instincts a lot more… Knowing that this organisation exists is really brilliant,” said Lisa H.

Following the discussion element of the event, we then moved on to poetry.  Liz, Roy and myself shared poems on the subject of trafficking and modern slavery, which was incredibly powerful, thought-provoking and a great way to round off the night.

Let’s keep the conversations going and keep our eyes open, as there is no way that slavery should still be taking place in our society and communities.  Together, we can work to prevent it.

Stay updated with the great work CCAT are doing by visiting their website, which also has information of how you can spot the signs of modern slavery.  If you’d like to support their work, please email Saima at manager@theccat.com

Guest Post: What is Modern Slavery?

“Modern slavery is the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability”

Modern slavery is ubiquitous. It is despairing that in the 21st century a statement such as this rings of truth. We did not confine slavery to the passage of history, instead, it’s become more malicious and calculating in its operations.

Slavery is illegal, it is a crime, it is a human rights violation and yet it prevails. Human trafficking, the means to slavery is one the most profitable industries on Earth, second only to the arms and drugs trades.   Most of us unwittingly come into contact with slavery on a daily basis, it continues unabated in your neighbourhoods and communities.

Croydon has often been described a hub for trafficking and slavery, it has the highest number of modern slavery victims of any London Borough. My work at Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT), a charity that has campaigned for 15 years on this pernicious issue, involves educating communities, training young people to mitigate risks, overseeing the intelligence gathering we’ve been undertaking for over decade on potential sites on exploitation and input into policy, and preventative work locally.

At CCAT our remit has focused on being preventative rather than reactive. We believe by going into the heart of our communities, we bring awareness that helps people spot the signs, reporting procedures and have the opportunity to ask questions on this hidden crime.

It is woefully difficult to capture accurate statistics pertaining to slavery and trafficking – the official government statistics stand at around 13,000 to “tens of thousands”.  These are estimates, much like the international figures which stands at around 50 million, which could be likened to almost 75% of the British population. The figures for the UK are sourced by the National Crime Agency, which rely on victims coming forward to build a picture of slavery in our country.  This has obvious shortcomings however, for the time being it is the system upon which we continue to rely in the absence of a more comprehensible one.

Victims that are fortunate enough to have sought help arrive from over 100 countries with the main ones being Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Romania and the UK. Slavery and trafficking of people is very much a national issue too, it prevails in our very own communities and cities. People are exploited across a myriad of sectors including car washes, nail bars, take away shops, cleaning companies and hospitality industries.

Women are sexually exploited and enslaved on bustling high streets, residential areas and local hotels. Industries across the world participate in dubious labour activities from fast fashion, chocolate, coffee and fisheries sectors to name but a few.

The main forms of slavery are sexual, whereby people (men, women and children) are bought to the UK often across several countries to be sold into brothels. Labour exploitation, which is the foremost form of slavery in the UK, having overtaken sexual slavery some years back, permeates many industries such as construction, fisheries, agriculture, beauty, hospitality and restaurant trades.

Traffickers recruit groups of people to work in any number of these trades using threats and coercion to subdue them including threats of violence to family in their home country which is more widely known as debt bondage. This is especially prominent among young Vietnamese boys bought to the UK for purposes of harvesting cannabis on drugs farms.

Domestic servitude involves young people, as well as adults, to be forced into working as house slaves undertaking tasks such as cleaning, cooking, child minding and on occasion sexual exploitation in domestic settings.

Slavery manifests itself into many forms such as enforced begging, forced criminality and organ trafficking which is particularly malevolent whereby people are trafficked for the purposes of having their organs removed to be sold on covert markets. This provides a snapshot of the nature of activities that are taking place in our neighbourhoods.

Traffickers exploit vulnerable people, inveigling them into a life of degradation and slavery.  They lure them with dreams of prosperity and comfort to sell them into a life from which they cannot find a way back.

The UK enacted the seminal Modern Slavery Act in 2015 which regulates the crimes that come under the ambit of slavery and trafficking as well as introducing life sentences for traffickers, the level of prosecutions has been woeful and the number of people imprisoned even more so. Clearly there is a long way to go.  We need to work towards building more robust statutory responses to victims and especially those remain hidden.

There are many destitute and desperate people that have no voice, which is why the work of charities such as CCAT is so vital, to create spaces for people to talk about this issue to learn more about it, gather intelligence and encourage people to campaign. Slavery is rife, the widespread nature of this crime means it can only be overcome by a large-scale effort that involves the statutory sector, charity organisations and our communities. Victims are here and they are hidden in plain sight, so please report if you suspect something amiss.

If you suspect modern slavery, please contact the modern slavery helpline, even if these are ‘just’ suspicions, as only by reporting can we start to process of investigating and rescuing. The national Modern Slavery Helpline is 08000 121 700 (https://www.modernslaveryhelpline.org).

If you’re interested in learning more about a community-led grassroots charity such as CCAT or if you’d like to support our work please get in touch on manager@theccat.com

Saima Raza is the Manager at Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT), who will be leading out in our event on October 16th at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm.

Let’s Talk About Goals

It was all about goals at The Kickback on July 24th, as we thought about the goals we had and goals we could aspire to after hearing from positive, inspiring young people.

To start the conversation, I asked what a goal is.  Mhairi made us all laugh with her witty response: “Where you aim in football.”  Stefon then said that it was a target or aspiration, Renee described it as a destination type thing and Daisy said that it was a next step.

I then posed the question: do you set goals?  Humi’s response was, “I set goals, but I divide them up…  There are short-term goals and long-term goals… I think it’s important to distinguish between the two. ”

Stefon believes that it’s important to have a plan, using the quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” to back up his point.  Jamie told us that he has the end destination and the bus stops to get there, while Daisy said that she has deadlines rather than goals, as she finds it difficult to hold herself accountable.

When I asked the questions of whether it is important to have leeway when working towards your goals, Renee made a really great point by saying, “We shouldn’t feel like failures for not meeting certain standards and work ethics.”

Before hearing from our speakers, I asked if anyone wanted to share their goals.  Stefon wants to make a living from his passion within the next two years – “If you do what makes you happy, the money will come.”  Etan’s goal was one I especially loved: “To prove people wrong in general.”

Our first speaker of the night was Renee, who founded the organisation Croydon Community Leaders (CCL).  Their values are community empowerment, community engagement and community action.  “We wanted to put people doing great things in Croydon on a platform,” said Renee.

CCL supports charities and non-profits, puts on events and organises campaigns, and also helps residents to engage in community matters – “We wanted to give back to the community,” Renee told us.

After asking if any of us had experiences with the police – the experiences shared were all negative – Renee told us about a new outreach programme that CCL were starting to enable members of the community to get involved and support young people, which is about getting trained in stop and search.  As well as training community individuals, they would give police cultural communication training.

During the conversation, Stefon raised the point, “You touched on the relationship between black boys and police, but this is a long-term relationship between black boys and the system… How can we change the mentality of young black boys, as it’s hard for us to change the system?”

Humi also said, “As young people, and also as people, we’re not taught to communicate in the right way.”  This was part of a wider and interesting conversation about the police, stop and search, and communication.

Talk then moved on to education and young black people being kicked out of schools.  Jane dropped some gems on us, including, “I know how hard it is for parents to constantly be fighting.  We know the goals we have for our children, but the system and institution is built to fail us… Academies that are supposed to nourish them are now failing them, because it’s a business.

“If a system wants to find fault, it will find fault, and one of the biggest faults is the colour of our skin.”

Our next speakers were Humi and Daisy, two of the founding members of What You Saying, a poetry night that takes place on the second Tuesday of each month in Croydon.  “Our tag line is raw, honest and inclusive,” said Daisy.  She explained that they give a safe space for artists and writers to share their work, and they also have feature artists to get more of their work out there.

Humi told us that a major reason they set up the night was because they found most poetry nights they went to were really white and middle class, or the complete opposite, and they wanted to get different people in the same space, otherwise there isn’t a way to learn from each other.

They also create opportunities for young people experiencing homelessness, as a way of trying to lift their community – “You only rise by lifting others,” Humi said.  She informed us that about 90% of the young people she worked with who were experiencing homelessness were involved with crime, as a lot of them didn’t know anything else.

Humi told us that she is trying to encourage young people to express themselves in healthy ways, as some of them aren’t taught that by parents.  She also made the point that society should be encouraging more young people to channel what they do into something else in a more creative way.

Etan made us all think by saying, “I’ve been told that I have potential, but… I want to hear that I have the potential and can do something else.”

Humi went on to share her experience of going into youth work, without a degree and any qualifications in youth work.  “When you think about goals, you need to think about it on your own terms,” she stated.

Our final speaker of the night was Si-Ann (who also took the photos for us), a creative director and producer, who founded the creative agency, Evacreate.  “Evacreate is all about evacuating your surroundings to create something new,” Si-Ann explained.

Si-Ann took us on a quick journey of her experience, giving us five tips along the way.  Tip 1 was to use who is around you, as she first decided to find people who would help her make Evacreate happen, which got her interested on the impact on people’s mental health.

When working and studying at university, she wondered how she would be able to develop Evacreate, so Tip 2 was: Take inspiration from everything and learn from everything.  “Everywhere you go, there is opportunity to learn and create something,” Si-Ann said.

Tip 3 was: Do milestones really matter?  It’s important to know your why.  When Si-Ann finished uni, she realised she hadn’t built the brand to where she wanted it to, and although there was so much she wanted to do, there were little things she could do.  This led on to Tip 4: Baby steps are still walking.

When Si-Ann and here friend talked about not doing a shoot for a while, they both realised they had gone through mental health struggles, so they decided to do a shoot on mental health among creatives.  They pitched it to a number of magazines, and it was eventually picked up by Afropunk, which was the one they really wanted it to be featured in.

Tip 5 was: Remember it’s not a sprint and endure the marathon.  “Take your time and don’t fear failure… It’s your own path and you need to take your time with it, and do what’s best for you,” Si-Ann stressed to us.  “If you don’t fear failure, when you accomplish something, you’ll feel all the better for it.”

I’m going to end with a great point made by Humi: “When we’re talking about goals, we didn’t really talk about when you stop focusing on your goal…  You can work yourself up to the top and then have a break down… Goals are important, but your happiness is more important.”

With that being said, I am taking some time out to reflect, heal and take care of my mental health, so The Kickback will return in October.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram and liking Young People Insight.

Raising Awareness of Young Carers with I Am More CIC

Young People Insight were collaborating with I Am More CIC on June 26th for a special event to raise awareness of young carers – a topic that is not often discussed.

What became clear on the night is how much awareness needs to be raised about young carers, as a lot is not known and not enough care is shown.  This event really should have had a greater number of attendees.

Lola, the CEO of I Am More, led out on the night and began by telling us how the organisation came into being – “My journey began with my own background of being a young carer and working with young people.”

Lola also raised the point: “Every borough has a young carer’s project, but what are they actually doing to push the awareness of young carers being raised?”  She thought that one of thebest ways to raise awareness of young carers would be through a short film campaign.  We watched the Be Seen campaign, a two-part short film on the night, which I thought very was powerful and insightful.

“I loved the fact it was in black and white, it was so clear,” expressed Aaron.  Lola explained, “I deliberately wanted it in black and white so there wasn’t distractions.  I wanted it to signify that being a carer, you have no colour.”  Lola also revealed to us that she wanted to touch on different aspects of caring through the campaign.

“When it comes to being a young carer, especially hidden young carers, they are often caring for someone with a mental health illness or a terminal illness… Because there is still such a stigma around mental health, they often don’t come forward,” Lola explained.

Aaron then asked why she thinks that there is that stigma, to which Lola replied, “Often a lack of understanding.”  She went a little deeper by saying that in the black community, things are often kept to yourselves and you don’t spread your business, but on a wider scale, it’s not spoken about enough.

Leeman posed the question of whether they find that young people get teased about being carers.  Lola thinks that is often why there is a reluctance to come forward, while her colleague Seema raised the question of, “How do you even express what is going on at home?”

This led on to an interesting point made by Lola, who said, “Sometimes you don’t even see that what you’re doing is beyond your years.  Aaron backed up this up by saying, “It’s the very fact that it can become normal.  It shouldn’t be.”

Joan, who works for the charity Off The Record, shared that Off The Record have a young carers service that is present in most schools in Croydon, and that they also have a support service.

I also shared that I think there needs to be a stronger focus on young carers in schools, in order for young people to become more under understanding and empathetic about the matter. Someone may be the annoying friend who cancels all the time, but what if they are cancelling because they are a carer.  We should think to ask these kind of questions.

“Being a carer can lead to you being isolated, being depressed and developing mental health issues,” Lola shared, which I don’t think is taken into consideration enough.

Lola revealed that the agenda of young carers was being pushed a few years ago, but there are “so many things popping up and taking away from these kind of issues.  Youth violence is popping up now.”

This tied in with Akbar saying: “They only really highlight it [particular issues] when they have their agenda and their purpose, or when there is going to be a revolt and they will lose control of the masses.”

Aaron responded by saying, “I think it could essentially be society’s values.  Instead of seeing what’s wrong, the value is to punish the person.  I think the value in England is making it, making money.”

Akbar backed up what Aaron said by pointing out, “Everything here is based on the capitalistic approach.  Prisons are based on capital rather than rehabilitation.”  He also shared the origins of the NHS and made an incredibly intriguing statement: “The NHS is bursting from the inside out, because it is set out to fail.”

We also spoke about social media and how young people perceive themselves, which can have an effect on their self-esteem and mental health.  Akbar told us that the effects of notifications have the same psychological effects as alcohol and gambling on us, because of the release of dopamine, which blew us all away.

As we spoke more about social media and technological devices, Mike stated, “Young people are so glued to these electronic devices, because it’s what they know.”  Lee believes that it is about balance and also adjusting to whatever works for you.

Lee also went on to make an interesting statement: “We have a generation of young people who don’t have social skills, and it’s not just young people.”

Lola believes that a lot of people are feeling isolated, because there is not that physical interaction, backing up a point that Aaron made: “I feel like not being able to have a conversation and meet up with people, it impacts your mental health.”

“We need to connect, we need that interaction… The epicenter is communication with real people in real-time,” expressed Mike.

To wrap up, I asked Lola to share how we can raise awareness of young carers.  “It’s that communication.  Telling more people about it and speaking about what young carers do… Keep the conversations going,” she said.

So let’s keep the conversations going and do what we can to raise awareness of young carers, because we are all likely to care for someone at some point in our lives.

Please stay updated with the great work I Am More are doing by following @IAmMoreCIC on Twitter and @iammorecic on Instagram.

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 off 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 when 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 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 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.

Guest Post: In The End

Continuing with this month’s focus on Mental Health, we have a poem from Kennedy Coombs,  a Weymouth-based rapper and poet.

How can I cope with this devil on my shoulder,
The heat is on but its making me colder,
When I was younger it hoped I’d grow older,
Started off small now it’s heavier than a boulder,

You say I’m fine, well I’m sick in the head,
You say I‘ll cope, well I’m sick of this mess,
I dunno how long I can stick with this stress,
If it was my way then I would’ve writ this in red,

I’m gonna have to break before people will notice,
That I was suicidal when I actually wrote this,
I’m waiting for the day, my depression I own it,
So I’m not worried about who’s got the most hits,

Cause on my worst days I struggle with reality,
Insane methods just hoping to find my clarity,
My heads in the clouds, yeah I’m defying gravity,
But when I fall, i know I‘ll be falling rapidly,

Yet it doesn’t matter because I am still smiling,
What about the day where it’s my body you’re finding,
I was up in the clouds, there’s no silver lining,
No one hears my pain, but they notice the rhyming,

I know my day will come when it’s the right timing,
But my life’s a tidal wave that I’m still riding,
There’s so much I’m continuously hiding,
Screaming out for help but it’s like I’m miming,

It’s not like I am obsessed with death and dying,
I’m just sick to death of constantly trying,
Spending my nights alone and crying,
I know I look fine I’ve gotten good at lying,

My life is a ring and I am always fighting,
My life is a song I am continuously writing,
Sinking to the bottom, but the top is in my sighting,
It’s like my life is bait and i am always biting,

It doesn’t matter what I do nothing is right,
So why survive just to eventually die,
Where are my wings? I just wanna fly,
Why stay sober when life’s easier if you’re high,

Years of rejection is the reason why I’m so numb,
Always staring down the barrel of my own gun,
In my mums womb my loneliness begun,
Now I don’t recognise the man that I’ve become,

How can I be myself when I dunno who I am,
I can’t make sense of something I don’t understand,
My life’s a battle and I’ve never had the upper hand,
With every love story there’s always another man,

Falling apart my nightmares are repeating,
I’ve had enough of constantly competing,
This is one story I’m gonna be completing,
Any more heart ache I won’t be receiving,

Now as a young man, I’m still suffering daily,
I ask for help but no one wants to save me,
I just want one day where I can be ache free,
If not, then God is gonna have to take me,

This life I’m living is starting to break me,
A danger to myself I’m concerned for my safety,
I’m tryna find a way out, I’m tryna do it safely,
You can’t let me live like this, no one can make me,

I am the monster that society created,
I’m feeling so numb it’s like I’m sedated,
The one full of energy has slowly deflated,
A song that most can probably feel related,

They call it life cause it’s a life sentence,
Living a life to exit, why make an entrance,
Making it seem peaceful, Hell they forgot to mention,
Even as a yout I was constantly in detention.