Does your no mean no?

As I was scrolling through Twitter one day this week, I came across a tweet that forced me to do a double take and give my full attention to process what it was saying.

Once I fully deeped what I had read, I found myself nodding in agreement and seriously thinking about what had been written, as these types of situations lead to toxicity and a warped way of thinking.  In my mind it was bringing up consent and healthy relationships, which is the theme of The Kickback next week.  It also made me consider the importance of the word ‘no’ and how the meaning of this word has become blurred in certain contexts.

From my own personal experience, I have seen how the word ‘no’ has become blurred, being faced with the question of, “Does your no actually mean no, or does it mean yes?”  I was taken aback when asked this and confused about how this simple word, with such a clear meaning, had become so misconstrued.

I asked myself that if this particular individual was thinking this way, then how many males were thinking the same way as him?  It’s no wonder that when some females say no, and are not particularly forceful when saying it, that certain males nod and continue to proceed with going further in an intimate situation.  A line is quickly crossed, without some men perhaps not even realising they are doing it.

Not that ignoring the word ‘no’ and not getting consent is ever excusable, but it is easy to see how some men may think that it is okay to continue, in their thinking that the word ‘no’ is part of the foreplay.  If some women begin to change the context of the word, who’s to say that all of them have not changed the context of the word?

This is something that we need to be very careful of, because it is not healthy and it certainly is not safe.  Being intimate with anyone is a big step and clear boundaries need to be set out.

Another factor that arises from this is communication and the importance of effective communication, which is key to the health and success of any type of relationship.  It is said that only a small percentage of communication is verbal, with the majority coming from body language and from tone of voice.

Although ‘no’ should only mean ‘no’ in an intimate situation, it is important to understand the body language and tone of the person saying no.  Even if a person is under the belief that no is a form of foreplay, there should be a level of awareness to see if the person saying no looks fearful or uncomfortable, or is perhaps stiffening up or reclining away.  Just because someone may have been enjoying a certain level of intimacy with before, it does not mean that they want to go all the way – there should be no obligation.

When we begin to blur the lines and confuse the context of sex or even relationships as a whole, this is when problems begin to occur and situations can become dangerous for all involved.  This is what I find often leads to situations that are not necessarily rape, but are very rape-like and bordering on sexual assault – again, the lines are so unclear that I am not even sure how to label or describe them.

We need to be upfront with our words, set out clear boundaries, communicate effectively and respect the individual, especially when engaging in romantic and sexual relationships.  I believe this will help us to build foundations of healthy relationships as a whole.

We’ll be taking the topic of Healthy Relationships further at The Kickback on Tuesday 20th November.  Raise your points and join the conversation at Project B (1 Bell Hill, Croydon, CR0 1FB) from 6.30-8.30pm.  I would love to hear what you have to say.

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.

The Importance of Love in Young People Insight

As you my already know, it’s all about love this month at Young People Insight, with love being at the centre of the topics for our forum and poetry night.

Despite love being the focus of our topics for February, love is at the core of Young People Insight all throughout the year.  It is my love for young people and love for my borough of Croydon that pushed me to start the platform in the first place.  It is my love for writing that led to me starting this blog.  It is my love for people that makes me want to care for them, encourage them and watch them be the best we can be.

Image by cherylholt and used under Creative Commons License.
Image by cherylholt and used under Creative Commons License.

I want love to run through the veins of YP Insight, spreading other positive elements and characteristics that will make our communities happier, safer and more civil places to live in.

Out of love for one another should come respect, especially when an individual shares views that are different to ours.  Respect, especially respect for life, is something that has been lost in our society and we need to work hard to get it back.

Love should lead to positive and effective communication, as we take time to listen to each other and respond accordingly, in a calm and civilised manner.  Poor communication has led to a myriad of problems within society, our relationships and other aspects of life – we need to do all we can to fix that.

I want YP Insight to be empathetic and caring, providing a genuine listening ear and support to all young individuals.  I want it to be patient and understanding, tolerant and kind.  It should create an environment where every individual feels comfortable, accepted and part of something.

Although this is a month where love is the focus, I want love to continue to be of the highest importance all year round, as there always needs to be more love in the world.  Don’t you think?

Info for November’s Young People Insight Forum

After three forums that were very relationships focused, we have moved on to a topic that would fit more in the technological category, but has a link to relationships nonetheless.  Communication was one of the focal points when discussing relationships, and that is what this month’s topic is really all about.

Social media is centered on communication, whether we are communicating directly with our loved ones or communicating our thoughts through a post.  Social media is all about sharing and creating content for people to see, while also keeping in contact with others and developing our network.

What may have taken longer to achieve can now be done in over half the time through cyber space.  We can promote our businesses for free, make contacts from around the world and build our careers, simply by tapping on a phone, computer or tablet.

Image by geralt and used under Creative Commons License
Image by geralt and used under Creative Commons License

Despite being incredibly useful, social media is also a breeding ground for all kinds of negativity, cruelty and evil.  How many relationships have failed because of misunderstandings created by social media?  How many individuals have been subjected to cyber bullying or vicious cyber attacks by unknown faces behind a screen?  How many of you have become addicted to social media, lessening your ability to interact with others face-to-face?

We’ll be discussing both the good and bad sides of social media, something we as have young people have become reliant upon in our everyday lives.  If there are any questions you would like to ask or any aspect you would like to focus on, come ready to bring that to the discussion as well.  After all, this your platform just as much as it is mine.

For all of you who are 16-25, don’t miss the Young People Insight forum on Tuesday 15th November from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B (1 Bell Hill, Croydon CR0 1FB).  This is the chance for you to speak your mind, munch on some snacks and meet new people.

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

Lost Communication

Inspired by the discussion on relationships in July and the emphasis on communication, this poem draws on our struggle to effectively communicate and how essential effective communication is for healthy relationships.

You talk to me,

I talk to you;

Effectively

Conversating,

Sharing our thoughts,

Engaging in healthy discussion,

Solving conflict;

That is what communication,

Good communication, should be.

Somehow, we’ve lost it,

Unable to communicate productively

With each other;

Breakdowns leading to problems,

Petty arguments,

Pointless anger,

And worst of all,

Broken friendships,

Unhealthy relationships.

Our inability to communicate

Makes our relationships vulnerable,

Open to shots of assumption,

Bombs of misunderstanding,

And attacks from outsiders

Constantly looking in.

Embracing the technological

Rather than the physical,

Trying to solve domestics through DMs,

Airing dirty laundry on the TL,

When you should be looking into the eyes

Of the other,

Listening to the sound of their voice,

Coming from the movement of their lips,

Communicating the way

Nature intended it to be.

Too much time spent

Communicating with emojis,

Not enough time spent

Communicating with words from a dictionary.

Struggling to hold a conversation

Has become a regular thing,

Lacking substance,

A sense of maturity,

Making interactions boring.

It’s time to step up our communication,

Develop healthier relationships,

Spend more listening,

Less time yapping

And stop being so selfish;

Give more care to each,

Maturely talk through your mess,

But most importantly,

Peel your eyes away from that bright screen

To focus more on your loved one’s face.

Communication
Image by meijer and used under Creative Commons License.

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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

Info for July’s Young People Insight Forum

Relationships, relationships, relationships.  I had to get an emphasis on that word, because it is such a hot topic amongst young people.  We spend countless hours thinking about relationships, stressing over relationships, talking about relationships and getting into relationships.

Yet the question is, are we really as clued up as we should be when it comes to relationships?  Are we getting into relationships for the right reasons and when we do get into a relationship, do we even know what we’re doing?  Are our relationships healthy and do we know what is required in a healthy relationship?

Love Locks
Photo by stokpic and used under Creative Commons License.

There are a whole number of questions that many of us probably don’t know the answer to, but we find ourselves getting into relationships anyway, when we’re not ready or lacking the maturity.  This can lead to a number of problems, resulting in us hurting ourselves and others, which then leads on to us carrying a ton of baggage.

This month, we’re going to be talking about relationships, touching on communication and what we think a healthy relationship should entail.  This discussion will also have a special focus on women, questioning why women are objectified and pressured into particular behaviours by men, but also why some women portray themselves in a certain way to get male affection and attention.

Young People Insight Forum- Project B

If you’re 16-25, you won’t want to miss the Young People Insight forum on Tuesday 19th July from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B (1 Bell Hill, Croydon CR0 1FB).  Come down and speak your mind, munch on some snacks and meet new people.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter or liking Young People Insight on Facebook .