Being The Change I Want to See Through 3 Years of YP Insight

When people learn about or get involved with Young People Insight, the question I am most commonly asked is: “Why did you decide to start something like this?”  No matter how many times I am asked this question, it still throws me a little, as I know that I will take a full story to explain.

I started YPI, because I wanted to empower the voices of young people and ensure they knew their voices mattered, as I often felt that mine didn’t.  I started YPI, because I wanted all young people to feel they belonged somewhere and never feel as lonely as I felt.  I started YPI, because I wanted to create a space where young people expanded their mindset by stepping out of their comfort zones, which was the case for me.

All in all, I started YPI, because I knew young people and young adults needed it.  Leaving the teenage years and entering into adulthood can be an awkward time, which we are left to navigate on our own.  I set up YPI to be a bridge that eases the transition, which is why it is aimed at 16-26 year olds.

However, if I was going to answer with one sentence, I would say that I started YPI because I wanted to be the change I wanted to see.

Before starting the YPI blog in 2014, making change was something I regularly spoke about, but not really doing anything about.  Once I started the blog and spent more time interacting with young people at a charity in Croydon, I knew that I wanted to create a platform for young people to make their raw, authentic voices heard, come together from behind a screen in the process.

I had ideas upon ideas written down in notebooks from 2014, but if you knew me at that time, you would know that my confidence was basically shot and I continuously doubted my abilities.  Once I finally developed that confidence and began believing I could do more than I thought, YPI was ready to be launched as the physical platform you know in 2016.

Since launching YPI in 2016, I believe that I have been the change I want to see, despite always wanting to be a greater change in society as a whole.  I especially want to reach more young people, because I know there are more out there who will benefit greatly from being part of the YP Insight family and building the confidence they need to be the change themselves.

It has been a struggle to keep YPI going over the past three years, but it is the young people involved in the platform who keep me going (partnered with the resilience and will God gives me).  They inspire and uplift me at events, especially with the bravery shown when sharing their poetry.  I want to continue sustaining and developing this platform not only for them, but for every young person who is yet to be a part of our family.

I cannot stress how much I have learnt and grown, through building up YPI and the various events that have been put on.  I’ve developed skills as a host, facilitator, events manager, poet and so much more.  I’ve also gained knowledge on a variety of topics – which I can honestly say rarely crossed my mind before – including modern slavery, young carers and psychosis.  The more I know, the more I want to know.

Starting YPI has made me a better, stronger and even more understanding person.  It’s taken me out of my comfort zone, and continues to do so, which is not so terrifying anymore.  I’ve come to embrace it, which is why I finally got it registered as a Community Interest Company this year.

Making YPI official was something I have wrestled with continuously, especially when there were so many moments when I wanted to walk away and put an end to it altogether.  I’m so glad I persevered though, as I can finally say that I’m the Director of my own company, which is something I always wanted.

Three years is a short space of time in the grand scheme of things, but to keep YPI going for this long feels like a great achievement to me, especially when I have seen a number of initiatives in Croydon come to an end during this time.

So to everyone who has supported Young People Insight over the past three years, and to everyone who supported my journey even before that, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I could not have kept this platform standing without you.  And to every member of the YP Insight family, I love you all so much.

Here’s to many years more.

Guest Post: My Review of Young People Insight in 2017

As we approach our final event of 2017, when we’ll be looking back at another year of Young People Insight, some of the individuals who have been involved in the platform this year will be sharing their YP Insight experience in 2017.  First up is regular attendee, Alana Monet-Telfer, who looks back on how much she has grown since getting involved in the platform.

I found being at Young People Insight this year one of the most inspirational, fun, and insightful experiences I have been too for a long time.

What I first like about this group is that you’re not just a person attending and listening – you become involved in the conversations, people want to hear your opinion, and the people do respect your opinion there; even if it does not match up with their own beliefs and opinions.

A difference of opinion or view at Young People Insight does not mean separation, or that people can’t get along. It means we can learn to understand each other, and even learn something new in the process.

It was not only my views that got me involved within the group. It was also being given the opportunity to lead a discussion topic out, with my own questions. For one night I was doing what the founder of the group does every month, which is to lead the conversation (the topic being Synthetic Beauty vs Natural Beauty), ask questions, and take down notes of a variety of answers from the people who attended to discuss this topic.

For me this would have been very difficult to do a few years ago, since I was not confident, and didn’t talk a lot when I first came to the group.  This has all changed since attending this group for nearly two years. My confidence has grown immensely thanks to their natural desire to hear my voice; and what I can offer to the others in that group.

I was encouraged to contribute as well, by writing my own spoken word poetry, to perform at their events. I have written spoken word poetry before, but never performed them, until I was offered to by Young People Insight.  This helped me get out of my comfort zone, improve my performance skills, and share a unique bond with every person who heard my poems, who could also relate to them in some way.

My spoken word skills were required also to help with a special project in Croydon called Festive Fantasia.  It felt great to write a poem, which had a huge and positive impact on the town of Croydon. It showed me that my words, the way I write them, and what I can give to the world, is vital and very significant.

I feel happy knowing that with the help of Young People Insight, I can help others find their importance, and share their gifts in their own way.

To conclude, I found Young People Insight a place I needed to be, to gain confidence, express myself as I am, and become the confident, creative, and continually succeeding person I am now.

Thank you, Young People Insight.

Reflecting on the Progression of Young People Insight

As you’ve probably noticed, there hasn’t been any information about a forum this month, but it’s only because we’re on a break until October 18th comes around.  However, this doesn’t mean that the work has stopped, as this month has given me plenty of time for reflection and allowed me to start putting some ideas in place to take Young People Insight to the next level.

Since holding the first forum in January, each month has continued to generate interesting discussions on a variety of topics, which have grown more dynamic and are always overrun with differing viewpoints.

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Young People Insight August Forum

I’ve seen different sides to young people and learnt more about their individual thought processes as we’ve spoken on topics including employment, violent crime and relationships.  They have also provided some useful, tangible solutions that I want us to start to putting into action over the course of the year, as one of the core elements of YP Insight is being the change we want to see.

One of the most effective and exciting forums was when five young people – Stephanie Kane, Matthew Don, Frances Acquaah, Kyle Hylton and Jason Simms-Davis – shared their stories so far and how they were pursuing their dreams at the forum in May.  Everyone who attended was inspired and engaged in what their fellow young people had to say – I am definitely planning to put on more forums with this format in the future.

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Young People Insight May Forum

Although the group of young people who attend the forums has been growing slightly and steadily, there are still a whole lot of young people that I would like to reach and involve in YP Insight, as I believe that it is essential for young people to use their voices and feel that they matter.

I’ve finally got some leaflets made, so look out for those, and I’m going to be setting up a YP Insight Instagram account to accompany the Facebook page and Twitter account.  The YouTube channel is also set to go live soon with our first video, created by one of our forum participants, Chinelo.  I’m hoping that future forums will be filmed and for highlight videos to be posted on the channel, giving others an insight into our discussions and what they’re missing.

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Young People Insight Leaflets

YP Insight was always supposed to be more than just forums, so there will be additional events coming up that will empower the voices of young people in other ways, as well as social events that will encourage young people to grow their network and develop their communication skills.  Next year, I’m also hoping to hold workshops that will be hosted by other organisations and put on collaborative events, which will create a greater sense of community.

Coming up on November 1st is our first spoken word/poetry event at Project B from 7-9pm, which will allow young people from Croydon to make their voice heard through the art of poetry and showcase their talent.  I want this to become a regular monthly event, sometimes with different themes for the poets and spoken word artists to focus on.

Photo by condesign and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by condesign and used under Creative Commons License.

However, in order for YP Insight develop and for all these ideas to come to fruition, I need a team around me.  I particularly need individuals with skills and experience in media, marketing, finance and event planning/management, as well as someone to lead out on everything with me. This is a great opportunity to be part of a youth community/organisation in Croydon and it is something that you can put on your CV.

Together, we can make a real difference in our community and be the change we want to see, because if we truly want things to be different, it has to start with us.

For more information on any of the upcoming events or if you would like to join the Young People Insight team, email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk, follow @YPInsight on Twitter and like Young People Insight on Facebook.