What makes a healthy relationship? – Part 2

We were talking Healthy Relationships at The Kickback on November 20th, which led to a great conversation with so much said that I had split the write-up into two parts.  Part 1 provided insight into our thoughts on what relationships are, what makes them healthy and the idea of agape love.

After speaking about what we think makes a relationship healthy, I asked the question, what do you do when your relationship becomes unhealthy?  For this question, I wanted everyone’s answer to be what they personally do, rather than what they think you should do.

Rhianna told us, “I look for what’s going wrong between me and the person, to see where the fault lies.”  However, Gus feels like the relationship was essentially unhealthy in the beginning, to which Mhairi asked, “What do you do when your relationship with yourself becomes unhealthy?”  Gus responded by saying that he thinks the only thing you can address is your own past.

Tanica shared that she is a massive mover of energy, so she tends to mediate and as she meditates, she breaks down what is going on internally with herself and what’s going on internally with the other person.  Then she will approach them diplomatically and let them know how she feels.

Elisha believes that if a relationship is bad, then you should leave it, while Mhairi said, “I just think everyone needs a time out sometimes.”

Lisa threw in the question, “How do you know when a relationship has become unhealthy?”  Rhianna said, “I’m aware of myself and my emotions in my body.  I’ll feel it in my stomach.”  Mhairi thinks that some people can be oblivious, and Gus thinks that it is about understanding.

I said that I know when someone starts draining me, which I felt strongly with my last boyfriend.  Gus went on to make the interesting point of how the relationship between a mother and their child can be draining, as children can drain their mother.

Next, I referred to the Twitter thread that I wrote a blog post in response to last week and asked to hear what everyone’s thoughts on it were.  Rhianna instantly stated that she agreed with it, and Gus said, “I sympathise with that… In a lot of instances, a no does mean convince me.”  He later went on to say, “I think the problem is that women want the man to be assertive, but to what point or what detriment.”

Rhianna thinks it also depends on the person that it’s happening to, but that it doesn’t justify the way a lot of guys act.  Elisha made the point of saying, “People also pressure,” while Lisa strongly said, “Own your no.”

This got on to a discussion about the murkiness of consent and what consent may or may not look like.  “Why is the onus on women to be assertive and someone that they’re not in certain situations?” Lisa asked.  Mhairi also said, “Under pressure or trauma, you can’t always portray what you want to.”

This month, The Kickback was linked to the White Ribbon Campaign, which is a movement to end male violence against women and girls, so we spent some time speaking about this.  I started by asking, “Why do you think men are violent towards women and girls?”

To provide some background on her answer, Mhairi spoke about the Channel 4 documentary series, Woman, saying that it can be used as a military tactic to break down women, as well as it coming from a place of power, control, money ideas and hatred of women.

Gus really made us all think when he said, “The issue isn’t the men attacking the women.  It’s what’s inside the men. Men are attacking each other… To get to the root of it, you have to understand why men are the way they are.”

As someone who knows men who have been violent towards women, Tanica believes that it comes down to a variety of factors – “Sometimes it’s broken down to religious factors.  Sometimes its culture.  Sometimes its upbringing.”

Lisa said, “There are men who are violent to everybody, and there are men who direct their violence to their partners and no one else, because they know they’ll get away with it.  In their environment, they’ll have power and control.”

I then asked, how do you think we can put an end to violence against women and girls?  Elisha thinks it’s good to talk to the police and let them sort things out, while Mhairi thinks the only thing that is helping is grass-roots communities and groups.

Gus feels that men go for women, because they assume they’re more vulnerable, but if she turns round and kicks him in the head, he’s less likely to attack her.  However, the idea of fighting back makes Lisa nervous – “When we cut out the need to even have self-defense classes, then I feel we’re on the right path.”  Lisa thinks the key is education and awareness.

My final question was, how can we have more healthy relationships?  I’ll leave you with the two responses: Mhairi said, “A shift in society” and Gus said, “A shift in oneself.”

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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.

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What’s Coming Up This July?

Summer is actually here and it is beautiful.  Have you been enjoying this full on dose of sunshine?  I know I have.  It’s not just the sun that is making July beautiful though – the events YPI has in store will be making July beautiful as well.

After two great sessions, TCFT Croydon 2018 comes to an end on July 15th.  I know, I can’t believe the last one is almost here either, it has gone by so fast.  The workshops will be continuing, culminating with a sharing of the work created in a performance open to all members of the community.  I got a taste of the work everyone has started so far and it is gorgeous, so I would definitely recommend coming along.

The performance will be taking place from 5.30-7pm in the XChange Function Room on Lansdowne Road in Croydon Town Centre.  Please come and support if you can.  Look out for more information on the TCFT Croydon Facebook page.

Photo by Peter Ball and used with permission.

For the first time ever, Poetic Insight will be coming to Thornton Heath and I am beyond excited, as Thornton Heath just happens to be the place I call home.  The event will be held during Thornton Heath Arts Week, giving young poets and spoken word artists an opportunity to make their voices heard.

Our evening of poetry will be taking place at Thornton Heath Library on July 17th, with doors opening at 6pm for a 6.30pm start and 8pm finish.  Email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com if you would like to perform, but if you just want to enjoy some poetry from the audience, you can get your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-thaw

The Kickback returns to its usual standalone format on July 24th, a week later due to our event during Thornton Heath Arts Week.  We’re talking ‘Goals’ this month, hearing from young people doing inspiring and positive things.  Come ready to learn, ask questions and think about your own goals.

We’ll be at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm with the snacks and a number of interesting faces.  This edition of The Kickback is always a great one, so you will not want to miss it.  Let us know you’re coming by registering here: bit.ly/lets-talk-goals

Our final event of the month will be the traditional Poetic Insight, at its usual home of Project B on the usual last Tuesday of the month.  Keeping in line with The Kickback, the theme will be ‘Dreams & Goals’, which I think is going to be really interesting and inspiring.

We’re also back to our traditional open mic format after last month’s special event celebrating peace, so if you would like to share your poetry, email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or you can sign up on the night.  Be sure to save the date of July 31st, with the time of 7-9pm, because it is a little while away.  You can get your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-dreams-goals

Keep enjoying the sunshine (and the football if you’re watching).  I really hope to see your beautiful faces at, at least one, of our events this month, as these are going to be the last YPI events for a little while – I am in need of a serious break.  Remember that a hug and a big smile from me will be there waiting for you.  See you soon.

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What’s Coming Up This May?

May is here, the sunshine is back and I’m excited for everything that we’ve got coming up!  This month is going to be a busy one for YPI with lots of great things in the works.  I just need to make sure that I keep up with it all.

First up is The Kickback, when we’ll be talking Mental Health during Mental Health Awareness Week.  The topic of Mental Health led to one of our best conversations in 2017 and I’m looking forward to another great conversation this year.

The Kickback will be hosted by OASIS, a health service for young people aged 14-35, who are experiencing psychological distress.  OASIS’s focus is on Psychosis, which they will be providing a deeper insight into.  Be sure to save the date of May 15th and the time of 6.30-8.30pm.  Register for the event here: bit.ly/letstalkmentalhealth

On the following day, we are joining up with community-led cinema, Screen25, and youth counselling charity, Off The Record, to put on a special event for Mental Health Awareness Week.  We will be screening feature film, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a 2010 hit comedy that confronts preconceptions about mental health and explores the reality of depression through the eyes of a 16-year-old.

As well as the feature film, you will also be treated to a screening of Behind The Locked Door, a short documentary produced by Brent Mind, about mental health in the black community.  And following on from the films will be a panel discussion on mental health, touching on some of the issues raised in the films.

I am really looking forward to this event, which I think is going to be thought-provoking and a lot of fun.  I don’t want any of you to miss it, so get May 16th, 7.45-10pm, in your diary, and don’t forget to buy your tickets: bit.ly/2r0cQC6

Last year, I put on the TCFT Croydon Pilot on a Sunday in August.  This year, TCFT Croydon is going to be bigger and better, taking place on three Sundays spread across three months.  The first of those Sundays will be May 27th at Turf Projects, getting the ball rolling for TCFT Croydon 2018 with a day of fun conversation and creative activities.

The theme for TCFT Croydon 2018 is Change, encouraging young people to think about how they can spark change through art, culminating in the final sharing of the work they create on July 15th.  There are still a small number of spaces remaining for those of you who are 15-25, so if you would like take part in this special creative process, sign up for your free space now: bit.ly/tcftcroydon2018-signup

Our final event in May will be Poetic Insight, continuing the focus on the theme of Mental Health.  Last year’s Mental Health themed Poetic Insight was a raw, beautiful, moving experience, which will definitely go down as one of our most memorable events.  I’m hoping that this will be another one to remember.

We’ll be at Project B on May 29th from 7-9pm, with performances starting at 7.30pm.  If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or send a message to 07910092565, and I’ll add your name to the list.  If you’d prefer to simply engage by sitting in the audience, register for your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-mentalhealth

I genuinely cannot wait for all of these events and I cannot wait to see your beautiful faces at some of them.  I’ll be waiting with a big smile and a hug.

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Poetry Meets Conversation at Poetic Insight

We continued this month’s focus on violence at Poetic Insight on April 24th, which brought together powerful poetry with more compelling conversation.

Mahmoud returned to the Poetic Insight stage, again sharing poetry he wrote after getting inspired on the night.  He dropped some strong, thought-provoking lines with his own style.

Paul Point graced our stage for the first time, leaving us in awe through his powerful delivery and masterful wordplay, taking us through stories in poetic form.

We were also joined by Sarah Jones MP, who spoke about the work she does and engaged in a conversation with us about youth violence.  One of the initial things she touched on was the barriers between young people and the police, with a lot still needing to be done to break these barriers down.

Sarah asked us about what we could possibly do or what we think could be done to address the issue of youth violence.  Renee expressed that people want to be involved in the community, but sometimes they don’t know how.  However, she did share some ways that members of the community could get involved, particularly through an initiative she is developing as part of her organisation, Croydon Community Leaders.

Mahmoud asked, “How will young people like me have a voice?”  Sarah was adamant that young people need to be part of every decision that is made when decisions are being made about young people, referencing panels that take place to discuss young people, but have no young people on the panel.

A number of interesting points were made regarding prisons – “Some young people spoke about how prison was a break for them,” said Sarah – how we interact with young people, the services available to them and how we make information about those services available, as well as some of the root causes – “There are connectors that are much more important than the colour of your skin,” said Sarah.

To end, I shared a poem I wrote especially for the night, comparing the violence in our city to a war zone.  However, I want to leave you with Sarah’s words, “This is the start of tackling a problem that is at a record high.”

Poetic Insight is back on May 29th  when the theme will be ‘Mental Health’.  Last year was really special, so save the date because you will not want to miss it.  We’ll be at Project B of our usual time of 7-9pm.  If you would like to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or get in contact through social media.

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What’s Coming Up This April?

Clocks have gone forward and more sun has been in the sky, which hopefully means that spring will finally arrive this month.  There’s also a lot coming up for YP Insight in April that I am very much looking forward to.

As part of Matthews Yard’s 6th birthday celebrations on April 21st, there will be a Poetic Insight segment from 8.45-9.15pm, which will be a special event to be part of.  There is an opportunity for some of the poets and spoken word artists who have performed at Poetic Insight in the past to share their poetry on the night, so please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com if you would like to be part of it.

On April 22nd, we are collaborating with Poetry Prescribed to put on a free poetry workshop, for 16-26 year olds in Croydon, on the subject on mental health.  From 1.30-4.30pm, young people will take part in a  thought-provoking session of reading, speaking, creating and sharing poetry.  You don’t need to be a poet to join, just come with an open mind.  Spaces are very limited, so register now to avoid missing out: bit.ly/letsdiscussmentalhealth

The focus of YP Insight this month will be violence, which could not have come at a more relevant time.  The spate of violent attacks and killings in London so far this year has been crazy and like nothing I have never seen reported before.  The use guns and knives seems to be more prevalent, raising more and more questions with limited answers coming to the fore.

This is why the conversation on ‘Youth Violence’ at The Kickback will be of the utmost importance.  The Kickback is not only about focusing on topics that matter to young people, but also trying to come up with solutions to create a better society for us to live in.

The event will be hosted by Jamal Khan, as it was his chosen topic of conversation, on April 17th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B.  This is not to be missed, so if you want to have your say on something that involves all of us and be part of making change happen, register here: bit.ly/letstalkaboutyouthviolence

‘Violence’ will be the theme for Poetic Insight the following week, giving us the opportunity to speak our minds and shine a light on the issue in a creative form.  I believe that this is going to be incredibly powerful and another unmissable event, especially as we are going to be joined by local youth organisation, Music Relief.

Save the date of April 24th and remember be at Project B between 7-9pm – performances start at 7.30pm.  If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or send a message to 07910092565, and I’ll add your name to the list.  If you’d prefer to simply engage by sitting in the audience, register for your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-violence

It was great to be back at the YP Insight events last month and I am looking forward to seeing you throughout April.  Please do make the most of the opportunities available, stay safe and most of all, show love and respect to each other.

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What are your thoughts on purpose?

After an unintentional month away, I was excited to be back at my YP Insight events, expanding my mindset and hearing from great people.  On March 27th, The Kickback provided its usual intriguing and dynamic conversation, taking a crazy amount of twists and turns as we spoke on the topic of ‘Purpose’.

I’m not going to lie to you, I was not entirely comfortable leading out on this conversation, as I was unsure of where to start and it was not a topic I would have chosen, but it was the choice of one of the participants and I want to be fair when allocating topics each month.  Nevertheless, I was more than happy with the direction our conversation went in.

I began by asking, what are your initial thoughts when you hear purpose?  Rhianna immediately said, “Meaning to your life,” with Kayleigh adding, “The reason you do something.”

Kayleigh then went on to the interesting point of the need to have a purpose being entrenched in the world, which she thinks is unnecessary, as having a purpose can be “such a stressful thing” – “Young people are too young to try to figure out what they want to pursue… You have to choose the foundations of your career [at GCSE] when you’re still having to ask to go to the bathroom.”

Kris doesn’t really like the word purpose and the way it’s used, as he thinks that you stumble on it.  He also believes purpose implies that there’s one thing and you have to find it, to which Kayleigh responded, “That’s assuming you have to find it in the first place.”

When I posed the question, do you think you’ve figured out what your purpose is, Rhianna promptly blurted out a sound no.  On the other hand, I said yes, that my purpose was to do good and spread love.

Kris also said no, as “there’s no specific one thing in my head and I don’t know what I’ve been put on his earth to do.”  He also added another element to his response by saying, “I think you’ve got to have yourself together if you’re going to tackle really big things… You need to be well equipped to be able to deal with all these issues.”

This led on to a conversation about the part individuals play in addressing and attempting to solve the many issues and problems we face in the world.  Kris thinks “the definition of caring about a problem is wanting to see it solved,” however, Kayleigh raised the point that “everyone has different capabilities,” meaning that not every individual may be able to respond to a particular issue in the same way.  Some may only be able to protest and others may be able to have a greater influence over policy.

In response to this, I raised the question of whether we are getting too obsessed with marches and social media hash tags.  Kris gave an adamant yes, which he backed up by saying, “Voice truth when there’s a lie going on, but I don’t like [when people jump on the bandwagon]… I think the question is why do people do what they do?”  He also thinks that it would be better if people got involved in the issue they are protesting about.

However, Kayleigh believes that it depends on the media of it, as it is really easy to manipulate people.  Kris also backed up this point in a way when he said, “There are certain things that aren’t right, but they seem right.”

This led on to a discussion about equality, society and culture in various aspects of our lives that went in a number of different directions.  A compelling point made by Rhianna was about people generalising based on what they’ve heard or what they know, as it’s like society sets guidelines so people know what they are supposed to be doing.

Kayleigh also made one of the best statements of the night: “If you want everyone on the same playing field, you’ve got to level the playing field first.”

Speaking about culture and society also meant that we spoke a lot about visual differences, which of course included race.  Rhianna thinks that you gravitate towards your own race, depending on the environment, because that’s what you’re comfortable with.

Touching on the contrast between race and culture, Kayleigh stated, “Race isn’t a social construct, but culture is.”  Most of us agreed and Rhianna also added, “You can identify as the culture, but you can’t identify as the race.”

Eventually, we ended up speaking about the way we describe each other, which ultimately resulted in a final discussion on language.  Rhianna made a very thought-provoking comment when she said, “If we’re going to scrutinise language, then why do we speak at all?”  And Kris described language as a game we all play – “Words come out of purpose.”

The Kickback returns on April 17th when the focus will be ‘Youth Violence’.  Join us in Project B from 6.30-8.30pm for more great conversation, snacks and new faces.  Looking forward to seeing you then.

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