What influence does music have?

We sat down in Project B on July 18th to talk all about the influence of music, which was a conversation that took off into numerous directions that I was never expecting.  Nevertheless, it made the night incredibly interesting.

To get everyone warmed up, I asked them to share what music means to them.  Responses included:

  • “An inspiration.”  You can be inspired by the career of others in music. – Andrae
  • “Music is parallel universes.  I can see other versions of myself in music.” – Alana
  • “Music is my pain, and then my happiness.”  All the bad from the past influences the happiness that I have.” – Unorthodox
  • “Music is a lot.” – Hakeem
  • “The point where you can appreciate music and you’re in the zone.  Music can take you to a happy place and a sad place.” – Pekz

Pekz also added a personal anecdote to his explanation, telling us that he’s been doing music for a very long time – “Music’s like that one woman I keep going back to.”

Pekz later delved right into the influence of music, saying that “there are people that influence it in the wrong way” and that music influences our younger generation.  He also expressed that music has a lot of power in decisions that we make in life, but as human beings we have some common sense to recognise the good from the bad.

Unorthodox backed up this point, saying, “The music is the problem…There’s people under 16 doing things they’ve seen in the videos and heard in the songs.”

I then posed the question, what effects have music had on you?  Hakeem said that music helps him when he’s stressed out, and Alana told us that the music she listens to that relaxes her is Disney and Barbie – “I feel I can jump into them and in a different world.”

Pekz made the point that a lot of music is for the female base – “I can go to a bashment rave and see 70% females.”  He also added, “Women support music more than mandem” and that women buy into music more.

Women would be a recurring theme during our conversation, as we spent time speaking about interacting and dancing with women in clubs.  We also spoke about general interactions between males and females – “Everything that’s good looking is not always the good thing,” said Pekz.

As you know, we love individuals sharing their stories and personal experiences at YPI.  One of the most special moments of the night was Pekz and Unorthodox sharing how music was the base of their friendship.  “Music can bring people together,” said Pekz.

I later asked: What are your thoughts on the link between music and misogyny towards women?  Andrae thinks that music’s behind it, while Unorthodox told us, “This is why I respect old music, because they were bigging up women.”

Pekz went a little deeper, using another personal experience – “I said something in one of my songs, because a lot of women are referring to themselves in that way.”  He later added that “a lot of women today are idolising 67.”

This also led on to us talking about the differences between hip hop, rap and grime, as well as how hip hop has changed over the years.  “Back in the day, people had something to say,” expressed Andrae.

My final question of the night was, what would you say to someone who is living out negative stereotypes that stem from music?

  • “I’m doing it now through my music.” – Unorthodox
  • “We can still appreciate music without listening to all the negative stuff.  You shouldn’t be afraid to hear new stuff.” – Pekz
  • “Explore many different types of lyrics… Research into what you listen to and don’t just listen to it.” – Alana

I’ll leave you with a final point from Pekz, who said, “Everything is a live and learn situation… Music can influence you to do positive things, because it depends on the types of lyrics.”

Our next forum won’t be until October, as we’re bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon on August 20th and in September we’re taking a well-earned break.  You can ‘Get Together’ with us at our next social event on August 6th, but for now, save the date of October 17th when we’ll be talking Culture.

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 Your Idea of Dating?

Our youth forum returned with a loud voice on February 21st, as we sat down to talk about dating and romance in Project B.  However, the focus of the conversation stayed on the many aspects of dating, not giving us a chance to get on to romance.

It was a lively and diverse discussion, which went in a number of different directions that took me by surprise.  That is why I love holding these forums though, because the conversation can start one place and end up right on the other end of the spectrum.


We started by responding to the question, what is dating?  Andrae said that it was getting to know a person, which most of us agreed with, but he also added the element of “having that chemistry and connection” – “I wouldn’t date someone I haven’t spoken to.”

Rianna thinks that it is “when both of you get to spend time together”, while Alana believes that it is a filtering process.  I got into the mix and revealed that I think dating is a courting process, to which Alana’s response was, “I love that”.  Rianna also agreed, saying that “it’s a bit quick now”.

This then moved on to the subject of whether we would date someone again if they didn’t pay for the first date.  Alana said no – “If he says no, I’m gonna say bye, see you later.”  On the other hand, Rhi, Sh’kira and Rianna said yes – “I don’t watch people and their money,” Rianna added.  Randy added a male perspective, saying, “If a girl really wants to pay, I’m not gonna stop her… [but]… on the first date, I’d say no.”

Later, Rianna asked a great question: Do you think it’s okay to date more than one person at the same time?  This led to some interesting responses on the complexity of feelings and physicality while dating.


Alana and Princess gave a definite yes – “The more people you date, the more value you have,” says Alana – while Rebecca said, “Yeah, as long as there’s a limit.”  Andrae’s yes was a little unsure, as his response was, “Yes, to a degree; to find out what a person’s like.”

“Me personally, I would feel bad,” Rhi expressed, but she also added that if the person simply asked her out and she didn’t really know them or the other person, then she wouldn’t feel bad.  Princess responded by saying, “You don’t owe that person anything.  You haven’t made a commitment to each other,” as she believes that getting to know someone takes a long time, and that you’re exploring your options through dating.

In response to her own question, Rianna said she thought it was fine, “but if you get close and physical, you’re taking it to another level.”  Princess added, “If you’re newly dating someone, that don’t mean nothing.  But if you’ve been dating for months, that’s different.”  Rhi also made the point of dating getting complicated when there’s no clarity.

My next question was, do you think the concept of dating has changed?  We agreed that it had changed vastly over the years from when our parents or grandparents used to date, but Princess made the interesting point that the concept of dating has always been the same for our generation, so we haven’t seen it change.

When Rhi expressed that some people think sex is part of the package when it comes to dating, Princess’ response was that it has always been the case for our generation.  “I think that’s why I’m so strict on the sexual part,” said Alana.


The conversation took a different turn, as we spoke about the oldest and youngest age we consider dating, and whether we would date outside of our race.  Most of us would date individuals younger than us, with the strong exception of Rhi, as we understood that age does not always mean maturity.

I added that there are a lot of guys out there not acting their age – some guys in their early twenties have the wisdom and maturity of someone older, while there are guys in their thirties acting and talking like they are in their late teens.

All of us had different preferences when it came to dating, with some of us happy to date individuals outside our race, and others having a preference for those of the same race.  However, we agreed that preferences are not set in stone – “You love who you love,” said Princess.”

Finally, I asked: What advice would you give to anyone dating?  The responses were:

  • Ask the right questions.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. – Princess
  • Be straight up.  Know what you want. – Rebecca
  • Don’t sell dreams. – Randy
  • Choose a guy that has a firm financial foundation. – Alana

Dating is a complicated concept with our generation, but it is necessary for you to get to know someone you want to get into a relationship with.  I’ll leave you with two gems from Princess:

  • “The important thing to remember is that we all want love.”
  • “You have you, I have me, and we have we.”


Our next forum will be on March 21st from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B, when we’ll be talking Freedom of Speech.  It’s going to be another great discussion, so don’t forget to tell a friend to tell a friend.

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

Discussing Social Media at the YP Insight Forum

Social media can be a lot of fun, just like our discussion on social media during the latest Young People Insight forum on November 15th.

We began by talking about our favourite aspects of social, which social media platforms we use and why we use them.  All of us used a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, with some being users of all of these platforms.  However, Chantelle said that she doesn’t really use social media unless it’s for work purposes.

Andrae and Alana both use social media to promote their products – Alana also added that “it’s about sharing my mind with the world.”  This then led on to a good point being made by Andrae, who believes that other people use social media for validation, while Chantelle thinks that it’s a rate of success for some people.


Being asked to describe social media proved to be a slightly difficult question, but resulted in some thought-provoking and unusual answers.  The first thing Andrae thought was DJ Khaled, but on the other end of the spectrum, Alana first thought of Dante’s Inferno.  Kyle would call it  a network, and Alana would call it an “encyclopedia of the world.”  However, Hakeem also thinks that people set themselves up on social media and share too much personal info.

Randy made the point that it has positives and negatives, which led on to the question of what we thought the positives of social media are.  Responses included:

  • News
  • The opportunity to talk to people in other countries
  • Self-expression
  • Knowledge
  • Marketing
  • Making money
  • Motivation
  • Escapism.

We then discussed what we thought the negatives were.  They included:

  • Weird people
  • Superficiality
  • Pedophiles
  • Destroying people’s lives
  • Child shaming
  • A false sense of bravado.

Andrae then asked if you think it’s okay to share your opinion on social media.  We all agreed that it was, because as Chantelle says, “It’s just an opinion.”  We also agreed that sharing an opinion is different to bashing others, which can often become the case on social media platforms.  “You can’t control what someone thinks,” said Rhianna.


I then asked why social media has become so cruel and why cyber bullying is so common.  Jason believes that it is because social media is an extension of real life, and there’s bullying in real life.  Kyle thinks that it’s easy for people to hide, while Alana reckons that it is because people think the more heartless they are, the more cool they are.

However, Chantelle made a brilliant point, saying that she thinks we are cruel in our heads, but we simply wouldn’t say what we’re thinking out loud.  It just happens that people express those thoughts on social media.

It was interesting for me to hear the views of others on why they think so many people have created fake social media lives.  The answers I got back were:

  • To make them feel better, as they have self-esteem issues
  • People being afraid to show who they are
  • Lack of self-awareness and perhaps not knowing who they are
  • Wanting to be a social media celeb
  • Wanting attention
  • Money
  • It is the only way they know how to express themselves
  • Insecurities.

This resulted in catfishing being brought up by Alana, who thinks that it might be about freedom.  Rhianna disagreed, as she thinks it comes from a creepy place and believes that it’s more about escapism.

We also touched on the negative effect that social media has had on physical communication – “It’s causing physical communication systems to shut down,” expressed Alana.  Yet Kyle reckons that “it’s only if you allow it to consume you… it’s all about balance at the end of the day.”


Kyle also added that it’s about the upbringing you’ve had, which may have had an effect on developing how you communicate.  However, Chantelle rounded up this point by saying, “Society ends up growing you and that’s when it takes you off the road you should have been on.”

My final question to everyone was whether they think social media is good or bad overall.  Many of us thought that it was both good and bad – “I think that it’s 40% good and 60% bad,” said Alana.  A few thought that it was good – “You can find out a lot of stuff on social media,” says Darnell.  And there were some who thought it was neither – “It’s too complex.  There’s a lot of good and lots of bad, but at the end of the day its social media,” said Rhianna.

It also led to a point being raised by Jason, which really made a lot of us think.  He said, “I think we’re getting confused between social media and social networking,” which we hadn’t stopped to consider.  Would you say that confusion is where some of the problems lie?


After so many great discussions, we’re going to be doing a round-up of Young People Insight in 2016 and discussing how we can take the platform further during next month’s forum.  Join us on December 20th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B for the forum, which will be followed by our first games night that will be going on till late.  Don’t forget to tell a friend to tell a friend.

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

How do you think we can make our society more peaceful?

September 21st is The International Day of Peace and it was highlighted on Croydon Radio‘s ‘Inside Story Radio Show’ on September 16th.  I feature on the ‘Inside Story Radio Show’ every month to give updates on Young People Insight and this month, it was requested that I ask young people the question, “How do you think we can make our society more peaceful”, to feed back some their answers on the show.

I got a number of great responses, most of which couldn’t be read out on the show earlier today, so I thought I’d share some more of them with you on the blog.  Hopefully it will inspire you and you’ll see something you can put into practice to make our society a more peaceful one.

  •  “By finding peace within ourselves first” – Jason, 24
  • “Educating people on issues creates less confusion and assumptions” – Dena
  • “Change your perceptions and beliefs about it; then the universe will mold reality to fit your perception.” – Alana, 21
  • “Within communities, having intentional gatherings and functions that integrate the members.  That can possibly create a care and empathy among community members” – Sh’kira, 22
  • “Have more social activities within a society.  Continue to raise awareness of issues going on.  Help understand and respect differences between individuals within the society.” – Simeon, 18
  • “Society having a good and concrete moral standard which can be supported in all spheres: the home, schools, workplace to create unity.  I believe God gave this to us in His counsel as to how we should live and also in the purpose He has given us in being created to commune with Him and one day be restored into His image.  While we could try to make adjustments to society, it is the hearts and attitudes of men which is the root cause of the issues we face — the fixing of this is what will one day result in true and lasting peace.” – Lauren, 21
  • “I think by engaging more with people, as in when you engage with people through activity or community projects, opportunities are created and people get to do something and feel happy or valued and I think that can bring peace; and acceptance” – Si-Ann, 23
  • “A lot of music artists today portray a negative energy and everybody follows and picks up on the energy.  The UK scene is on a high at the moment so every little thing the artists do is followed.  If our artists can portray how they made it to the millions etc, it would motivate our youth and general society to achieve likewise” – Elliott, 19
  • “Being helpful – when you see someone in trouble, whether they’re lost or confused, don’t act like you didn’t see them.  Speak out against prejudice and discrimination when you see it.  If ever you feel angry – take deep breaths before speaking… For me, the most significant things, which is honestly the simplest, is to smile at people on the street or even better yet, say hello.” – Nahed, 24
  • “As individuals we need to be more aware and considerate of others.  Show empathy.  If we thought of others more and less of ourselves, fewer conflicts and issues would arise, resulting in a more peaceful society.  And if people got to know Jesus through the Bible but most importantly build a relationship with Him and be changed by Him, our world could be transformed.  Not just ‘I got to Church Christians’ but real ‘I’m striving every day to be like Christ Christians’.  He’s the perfect example of peace” – Sophia, 22
  • “I don’t think there is such a thing as peace.  Between violence, politics and domestic abuse and everything in between, I don’t think it’s something that exists.  We need to work on equality.  The sooner everyone learns how to live together equally, the sooner the world becomes a better place.” – Daisy, 24
Photo by Alexas_Fotos and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by Alexas_Fotos and used under Creative Commons License.


Guest Post: Breaking Barriers Through Dance

Chaz Bonnar, 24, shares his story so far, which has led to him using dance and the creative arts to “educate youth about positive health and wellbeing”.

A lot has changed for me over the last 10 years. Even though I came from a good area of Glasgow and had a good childhood, I still had my own issues to overcome, many of which stemmed from having poor self-esteem and zero confidence as a teenager.

During my formative years I found it difficult to make friends. To go out to places and meet new people proved difficult. On top of that I had no way to express the frustration I was feeling at the time.

That was until I came across Breaking (proper name for Breakdance) and Hip Hop culture at the age of 15. At first I saw it as something cool to do in my spare time – which I had a lot of! Then as the years went by I became attached to it and saw it as a great way to express myself.

Through involvement in Hip Hop culture it became easier to make new friends and embrace the positive lifestyle that came with that. From there, I’ve travelled a lot to attend Breaking events and become friends with people from all over the world.

Photo by Sasha Lee Photography and used with permission

At first dance was a hobby. It wasn’t until early 2015 that I saw myself making my income from it. I left university with an Honours degree in 2014, having no idea about what I wanted to do for work. After I left university, I was awarded a Travelling Fellowship from Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which allowed me to travel around America for 8 weeks – learning about community engagement, organising outreach projects and how Breaking + Hip Hop culture affects young people from deprived backgrounds.

I learned a lot about myself and gained a better understanding of the importance of continuous learning. The outcome of this Travelling Fellowship was a positive one. Solidifying my lifestyle choice to engage with dance and Hip Hop culture full-time.

All I could think of were the positive attributes of engaging with dance and Hip Hop culture. It gave me confidence and helped me to develop better social skills. In essence it’s made me the person I am today. If I wanted to keep this amazing feeling I get from dance, and Hip Hop culture, I would need to keep it a top priority in my life.

Having this in mind came with its issues. I would have people tell me I need to be more realistic about my career choice. That it’s difficult to make a good income through dance. In ways, they were telling me the truth, because I’ve heard of many people struggling with this. All you heard of were the problems they had. Including the sacrifices they made and the long hours of teaching/performing they needed to do to get by.

Then again, there’s always sacrifices to be made for whatever you do. Especially if you’re going to give 100% to make it work. Plus, there’s always somebody to ask you if it’s worth all the effort. It is – if it’s what makes you feel great. The personal association you have to your work is always a motivating factor.

Photo by Joan Elliot and used with permission

What makes everything even better is having the support of your closest friends and family members too. With their support you can do anything. Luckily I have amazing support from my friends and family. They encourage me to travel as much as I do and live the life I want. It’s how I’ve arrived at the point I’m at right now.

I’m able to educate youth about positive health and wellbeing, through Breaking and Hip Hop culture, and make it my full-time income, as well as making Breaking and Hip Hop culture more accessible through various events and community projects.

From this I personally believe everybody has the capability to live the life they want. It allows you to stay feeling great everyday of your life. Truth be told, it takes a lot of your time and energy to make it work, including long hours and a lot of persistence. However, it feels nothing like work and the rewards you get from it makes it all worthwhile.

We need more people, especially young people, living meaningful lives with their passions; otherwise we have more people complaining about their work. We already have too many people doing that!

It also takes a certain level of belief in yourself. To decide this is what you’re going to do and give 100% conviction to it. There’s always going to be people that challenge what you’re doing. As long as you’re doing what makes you happy and fulfilled, you’re on the right path.

Photo by Stevie Reilly and used with permission

Chaz is a dancer and filmmaker, who also organises international dance events and collaborates with other youth organisations.    You can find Chaz’s report on wcmt.org.uk and follow him on Twitter, @ChazB.

Discussing Relationships at the YP Insight Forum

“A form of communication”; “a bond”; “happiness”; “a form of love”.  These were some of the thoughts young people had of what a relationship is, as relationships (with a focus on women) was the point of discussion at the Young People Insight forum on July 19th.


We starting by talking about what we think makes a healthy relationship, with responses that included:

  • Communication and honesty
  • Loyalty and trust
  • Not basing it on looks
  • Connection and attraction
  • Respect
  • Same goals.

I then threw in the question of why are so many people in unhealthy relationships, which brought a variety of answers:

  • Bad forms of communication
  • Fear of being alone and trust issues
  • Unresolved issues from relationships
  • People being too clingy and controlling.

This brought up the problem of insecurity and the query of why so many of us are so insecure.  Alana, 21, gave a great response, expressing that we need to learn to love ourselves 100% and bring happiness to ourselves, rather than relying on external factors.


Andrae, 25 believes that “communication is the key” to relationships, but why do so many of us struggle with effective communication?  Andrae thinks that it’s because some individuals don’t want to hurt the other’s feelings, while Alana thinks that some people are afraid to open up and show their true selves.

Rhianna, 21, believes that it stems from trust issues as if you have trust issues, you might not be able to talk properly or you don’t really want to have to explain yourself.  Andrae also brought up social media – “Instagram plays a big part” – and Sh’kira, 22, made a good point about lots of people having their own different issues.  She said that people are in their own worlds and their own minds most of the time.

Asking how we improve the way we communicate proved to be a very difficult question to answer, as communication seemed to be something that most of the young people struggled with and wanted to improve themselves.

I kicked off that part of the discussion, which eventually resulted in some good solutions:

  • Talking more in person, not just on cyber
  • Being more mature and feeling able to talk about your issues
  • Having workshops and focus groups
  • Don’t watch TV for a month – “Your whole concept of relationships will be new”
  • Respect yourself.

One of my favourite points of the evening was made by Alana, when I asked why we struggle to communicate – she said that we’re living in a technological age where “people are communicating with emojis”.


This month, there was a special focus on women and relationships, adding a little more depth to the discussion.  We started by discussing why females are objectified and pressured into certain behaviours to “get a man”, which sparked off an interesting dialogue.

Alana stated that “It’s a man’s world” and that women are being seen as toys or things to be used.  However, Andrae thinks that it’s because of the way a women dress, but Billie, 24, strongly expressed that “it’s insulting to think that people don’t think you dress for yourself.”

Rhianna thinks that some women feel like they have to act a certain way, while Billie added that “it’s all to do with money and consumerism.”  There was also the important point of males trying to have more control with less effort, wanting females to come to them and do whatever they want them to do.

When asked why some females portray themselves in a certain way to get male attention and affection, Alana said insecurity and the pressure that they have to be sexually active all the time.  Rhianna made the brilliant point that a lot of women are confusing attention for affection, and Alana also thinks that it’s because they’re not getting affection from the places they need it.

I then posed the question, as women, what do we associate affection with?  Responses included:

  • Being in close proximity with a person
  • A guy paying for you on the first date
  • Being shown that you have his attention
  • Showing that you really care
  • Intimacy and physical affection (not sex, but touching).

Finally, I asked how we can develop healthy relationships, which resulted in some really nice answers.  They were:

  • Communicating more – Andrae
  • Getting to know yourself, loving yourself better and forgiveness – Alana
  • In terms of friendships, people understanding boundaries and learning not to blur lines – Rhianna
  • Surrounding yourself with positive people and not watching certain programmes – Randy, 21
  • Being in tune with God – Sh’kira
  • Experience – Billie

The next forum will be Relationships Part 2 with a special focus on the men, at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm on August 16th.  You definitely won’t want to miss it, so tell a friend to tell a friend.

Follow @YPInsight on Twitter or like Young People Insight on Facebook for any updates.

Who Is To Blame???

When it comes to the issue of knife crime, there are a number of factors to consider, as it doesn’t usually come to one thing. As young blogger Naiya asks, who or what do you think is to blame?

You can follow Naiya on Twitter, @OpinionsOfNaiya


Hey Readers, 

I apologise for the delay, but I have been doing so much but if you know me then you know that I will always have something to say or something to write about so please bare with me 🙂 

If you read my last post then you would have noticed that I did say that I would be doing a continuation and be addressing some of the “theories” about who is to blame for youth crime and knife crime. On this topic I have so much to say, I could go on for days…

While I no longer live in London, I am still very familiar with what has been happening over the previous weeks in the terms of knife crime and what I would like to do is present you all with some ideas and theories as to why so many young people have turned to…

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