Looking Back on 2018 as we Move Forward to 2019

It was our final event of the year on December 18th, as we came together in Urban XChange Bar & Grill to look back at 2018, and make plans for moving forward in 2019.  As it was the final event of the year, we of course had poetry and spoken word as well, bringing The Kickback and Poetic Insight together.

As always, I started by asking everyone what their thing about YPI was this year and what they think worked well.  Responses included:

  • “Positive vibes.” – Elisha
  • The mix of different venues, being in Thornton Heath worked well. – Joan
  • A lot of people were inspired by hearing other people’s work. – Jess

I then wanted to know if they had preferred The Kickback or Poetic Insight.  Mhairi preferred Poetic Insight, saying that it was nice to have people sharing poetry and socialising, as “The Kickback is very heavy.”  On the other hand, Elisha said that he liked YPI as a whole, not preferring one event over the other.

The next question was, which topic at The Kickback did you gain and learn the most from?  Elisha said that Healthy Relationships was deep and that there was a lot to learn – “[It’s] good to teach other people out there where you’ve been.”  Mhairi’s was Goals, as she gained a lot of perspective and advice, and also met some people she could relate to.

Following on from that was the question of which Poetic Insight they enjoyed the most or had the greatest effect on them.  Dreams & Goals really stood out in Mhairi’s mind, while Elisha thought that Poetic Insight during Thornton Heath Arts Week was a really good one.

I then asked, what I feel, is the most important question: What can be improved?

  • “Everyone should bring a friend.” – Mhairi
  • Spread the word a bit more through social media.  Maybe do live videos. – Jess
  • Live-stream The Kickback and get people to send in questions.  That will increase engagement. – Kris
  • Get info in schools and colleges. – Vanessa
  • Do The Kickback in schools and colleges. – Kris

In preparation for 2019, I asked what topics they would like to see discussed at The Kickback.  Topics suggested were:

  • Depression – Jess
  • Social Expectations – Vanessa
  • Gender/Identity – Kris
  • Sexual orientation – Jess

And of course, I asked what themes they would like to see at Poetic Insight.  Themes suggested were:

  • Family & Friends – Mhairi
  • Responsibilities – Elisha
  • Equal Rights – Jess
  • Happiness – Mhairi

When asked what other events they would like to see put on, Mhairi said a bigger and better festival (we were one of the partner organisations who brought the Living in Poetry Festival to life), while Kris said, “Try doing a cypher.”

I also asked if there were any individuals or organisations they would like to speak at or host our events.  Joan said that she would love for us to get Temi Mwale down if we were speaking about Youth Violence, which I am really going to try and do next year, as I tried to get her to both The Kickback and Poetic Insight this year, but her super busy schedule sadly prevented it.

After The Kickback segment, it was time for Poetic Insight to see out YPI in 2018 in true inspirational fashion.  First to the stage was Elisha, who spoke about responsibilities and having confidence in yourself.

Following on from him was his best friend Jessica, who debuted a beautiful poem called My Light in the Dark, which was about her daughter, who happened to be sitting right in front of her.  It was a really special moment.

Friends, Adora and Vanessa, came to Poetic Insight together for the first time last month, and were so inspired that they made the decision to go home, write some poetry and share it this month.  In the first half, Adora shared a powerful poem about isms, particularly colourism, and cultural appropriation.  In the second half, Vanessa opened up to us with a deep and real poem about growing up raised by a single mother.

Henry graced the Poetic Insight stage for the first time, getting us all up in our feelings with two poems about the inability to stop thinking about someone you’ve fallen for.  It was a very different energy to fellow first timer, Fatima, who got political with a powerful poem about Theresa May.

Returning to the Poetic Insight stage was Script Index, who made us all smile with his performance of Remind Me.  He was followed by Mhairi, who shared a very honest poem coming to terms with a 2018 that had been tough for her.

Runner up of our logo competition, Vinicia, not only received her cheque on the night, but took to the Poetic Insight stage for the first time, sharing a strong poem about colourism and Black Lives Matter.

Kris brought his rhythmical style back to Poetic Insight, performing a poem about people who inspire him.  Then it was time for Tiarn to make his Poetic Insight debut, showing us that he has a beautiful way with words through his poem about the hurt that can occur in relationships.

As it was the last Poetic Insight of the year, I decided to perform, making me the final poet onstage.  I performed War Zone, as youth violence has been one of the things that has plagued my heart most this year and it needs to be continually addressed.

So that’s a wrap for 2018.  This will be the last blog post of this year, but we’ll be back the first week in January.  A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has read and shared any of the posts, interacted with YPI on social media or come out to any of the events – I really appreciate you.

Have a lovely festive break and a very happy new year.  I look forward to seeing you in 2019 for another full year of Young People Insight activities.


What’s Coming Up in December?

The year of 2017 is drawing to a close, which means that another year of YP Insight is coming to a close as well.  After celebrating our first birthday in January with Poetic Insight, crowdfunding during April and May, putting on TCFT Croydon in August and changing the name of our forums to The Kickback in October, we are coming to our final event of the year.

On December 19th, The Kickback will join with Poetic Insight for the first time for ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’.

This the time of the year when we look back at everything that has taken place and give insight into what we liked, what worked well and what we think could have gone better.  We’ll also be looking into how we will be moving forward next, deciding on topics for The Kickback and Poetic Insight, as well what improvements need to be made.

Poetry and spoken word will also be added into the mix to break up the conversation and get you inspired throughout the night.  Performance slots are filling up fast, so if you would like to share some poetry or spoken word on the day, please email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or send a message to 07910092565.

We’ll be at Project B from 6.30-9pm this time, enjoying good conversation, amazing poetry and tasty snacks.  Make sure you’ve got the correct time in your notes or diaries, because you won’t want to miss any of it.  Let us know you’re coming by registering here: http://bit.ly/lookingback-movingforward

Also, if you haven’t managed to see the amazing poem written by Alana, Ashan and Jennelle yet for ‘Croydon’s Festive Fantasia’, don’t miss the chance to see the giant animation on North End or the Croydon High Street before it stops showing on December 23rd.

We’re also making plans for our second birthday celebrations next year, so if you would like to be involved somehow, please please email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or get in touch through social media.  YP Insight is all about collaborating and coming together to make change.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

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.

Poetic Insight: Moving Forward & Celebration

A month before the first youth forum in January 2016, I launched a short film that kick-started the youth platform that Young People Insight has evolved into.

It made perfect sense that the first birthday of Young People Insight would be celebrated with a night of poetry and spoken word, at the first Poetic Insight of 2017.  On January 17th the theme, Celebration & Moving Forward, resulted in a number of inspiring and thought-provoking pieces from some amazing young talent.

Not only was the theme a perfect fit for the occasion, but it was a perfect fit for quite a few of the performers, who were moving forward with their craft by performing their poetry in public for the first time.

dsc_0827Giving young people the opportunity to speak their mind through poetry and spoken word was the reason why I started Poetic Insight in the first place, so I was happy to learn that this platform had given them the chance to do that.  In spite of the nerves they may have had, their delivery was clear, their words strong and impactful.

One particular individual was Ashan, a last-minute addition to the schedule, who asked me to perform on the night.  She revealed that she was sharing her poetry with an audience for the first time and then went on to blow us all away, with poems on the subjects of mental health and Black Lives Matter.

First time performer Jack was first up on the mic, challenging our perception of success, while dsc_0834Tekisha Henry brought the house down to end the night, as she reminded us that we’re ‘A
Promising Generation’.  DanielWrites brought variety by reciting his spoken word accompanied by Joe on the keyboard and Authentic Alanie got into character to perform her spoken word.

Sh’kira, a member of the audience said: “It was so interesting to hear the different themes that people chose to speak on.  Also the different styles of spoken word was really great to hear.  It was also nice to hear people share their personal issues, like their mental health, and I think it was good that people felt that they were in a space to confidently share their issues, even with people they didn’t know.”

Every individual bought something different with their performance, making it a special night dsc_0820bursting with variety, so I want to take this time to thank Jack, Jennelle, Keshon, Alana, Daniel, Nyasha, Jamal, Lopez, Ashan, Aaron and Tekisha.  This night could not have happened and would not have been the same without you.

I want to end with a few words from one of the performers from the night, which perfectly articulate everything I want Poetic Insight to be.  Jamal says: “It’s so good to see that there’s a place young people can go to get something off their chest.  If there’s nothing like this then we would keep our emotions in and express it in negative ways.  Poetry is therapy.”

The next Poetic Insight will be on February 28th and the theme will be Love & Hate, so get writing now and if you want to perform, email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk


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


Celebrating Our 1st Birthday at Poetic Insight


This month will be a year since I started holding youth forums as part of Young People Insight, transitioning from simply being a blog and officially kicking off the youth platform.  Celebrating our first birthday will coincide with Poetic Insight, our first event of the year and the first of our monthly poetry nights.

Poetic Insight will give young poets an opportunity to showcase their talent, while speaking their mind and making their voices heard.  This is another avenue for your young people to have their say, rather than simply coming to the forums, as not everyone articulates their thoughts and views in the same way.

The theme for this month’s Poetic Insight will be ‘Celebration and Moving Forward’, and it will be taking place on January 17th in Matthews Yard.  Doors open at 7pm, with performances starting at 7.15pm and the event concluding at about 9pm.

There are still opportunities for young poets to perform on the night, so if you want to share your poetry or perform spoken word, email me on shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or call 07910092565.

This is a free event that you won’t want to miss, so get ready for a night of inspiring poetry.  Let us know you’re coming by getting your tickets for Poetic Insight here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/poetic-insight-celebration-moving-forward-tickets-30953595036?utm_term=eventname_text

Moving Forward into 2017

On December 20th, we had our last Young People Insight forum of the year, and it was all about moving forward.  We discussed how YP Insight would develop and move forward in 2017, as we took a look back on YP Insight in 2016.

It was important for me to hear from the young people involved in the platform and understand what they want, because they are at the center of it and it is their voices that are being heard.  I’m simply the instigator, who ensures that they feel valued and listened to.


I started by asking what their favourite things about the forums this year were and what they think worked best.  The responses I got were:

  • Good topics
  • Stuff people can relate to and get off their chest
  • Acceptance – “I feel comfortable here,” said Alana
  • Laughter
  • Making connections with new and like-minded people
  • Openness of discussions
  • Intimacy
  • Good environment
  • Snacks.

I also wanted to know which forum was the favourite of each individual or had the greatest effect on them.  Personally, mine was the forum on dreams in May, when I had some great young guest speakers.  Other favourites included:

On the flip side, I then asked what they thought could be improved upon.  Suggestions included:

  • Perhaps having games or doing different things along with the forums
  • More socialising and bonding as a group
  • Varying the crisp selection
  • Having debate nights on really serious topics
  • Asking people what they want to talk about and what they want to become more confident talking about
  • More professionals coming and talking, giving a different perspective.


In preparation for 2017, I asked the question, what you would like to see discussed next year?  What was brilliant about this question, was that it generated interesting, dynamic discussions, simply from us bringing up the topics that we wanted to see talked about next year.  Topics we wanted to see discussed included:

  • Online dating
  • The rise of virtual reality
  • Are women in control
  • Space in relationships
  • The black community
  • Music
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Mental disorders
  • Romance.

With the forums already a regular occurrence and monthly poetry nights starting in January, I wanted to know what other events the young people wanted to see take place.  Responses included fun days out, open mic nights and an art exhibition.

I also wanted to know how everyone wanted to get more involved with YP Insight, as I really want all of the young people around me to take greater ownership of the platform and genuinely feel that it is theirs as much as mine.

We ended off a year of YP Insight with our games night, which was a lot of fun – I’m looking forward to more social events like it in the future.


I’m excited to see everyone again in 2017, when we’ll be celebrating the 1st birthday of Young People Insight on January 17th.  We’ll be holding our first poetry night of the year in the new location of Hoodoo’s in Matthews Yard, when the theme will be Celebration and Moving Forward.  For now though, have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

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

Info for December’s Young People Insight Forum

Back in January, I held the first Young People Insight forum, asking the young people in attendance what issues were important to them, as well as what they wanted from me and this platform.

Now we’re in the last month of the year, after holding 10 forums that covered various topics, including employment, violent crime and relationships.  As well as the forums, there was also the first poetry night in November.

Photo by Skitterphoto and used under Creative Commons  License
Photo by Skitterphoto and used under Creative Commons License

This makes it the ideal time for us to talk about moving forward as we go into 2017.  I want you to be part of the conversation of how Young People Insight will move forward next year, as it is important that you feel this platform is yours as much at it is mine.  We will also be looking back at what we’ve done over this year, identifying what worked well and what can be improved upon.

I think this is set to be a good conversation, helping to put Young People Insight in a good position for next year.  It will be followed by the games night, which will be fun, so even if you can’t make the forum, come out to play with us.

So if you’re 16-25, don’t miss the final Young People Insight forum of 2016 on Tuesday 20th December from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B (1 Bell Hill, Croydon CR0 1FB).  


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

Moving Forward to Become the Change

As I mentioned earlier in the year, Young People Insight is moving forward and bigger things are being planned for this year.  One of the ways that the platform is moving forward is through developing a media campaign/project with youth charity, Fixers.

Fixers is an organisation that works with young people aged 16-25, helping them to “fix” an issue that is important to them, whether it be mental health, crime, drugs or safety.  According to Fixers, these young people are “motivated by personal experience to make positive change for themselves and those around them.”

Fixers not only help young people get their voices heard by the right people through various creative avenues, such as films, poster campaigns or events, but they also connect them to digital, print and broadcast media.  This enables them to “make their voice heard as far and wide as possible.”

Two days ago, I held a focus group with Sarah, my Young People’s Coordinator from Fixers, who is helping me to put this aspect of my project together.  Having a focus group was important, because it allowed me to gain deeper insight from other young people and understand what they ultimately want from Young People Insight.

After taking a little while to warm up, the young people had a lot to say about the four main issues that Young People Insight focuses on: self harm, unemployment, education and knife crime.

Self harm made them think insecurity, depression and cry for help, while the term unemployment instantly made them think of stress, depression and vicious cycle.  Education brought about the words opportunity, misunderstood and qualification, unlike knife crime, which made them think of murder, contention and negativity.

What really interested me though, was some of the thoughts that they had on the subject of education.  One thing we seemed to agree on was that there is too much pressure involved and that does not tend to be a good thing.  Sophia, 20, said: “It’s good to have expectations, but pressure isn’t necessarily a good thing.  There’s pressures all around, on teachers as well as students.”

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

Some of us also felt that education needs to be more than simply gaining knowledge, but also about developing life skills.  Rhianna, 19, believes that school does not really give you life skills or teach you about things like finances and common sense, which she views as a problem.

We thought that more of these skills should be taught and 19-year-old Lauren suggested that the government should put in a structured programme for PSE in schools that would cover some of these things, particularly CV writing and interview skills.

I also asked about the issues concerning young people that are important to them, which provided me with some more ideas to work with and also allowed them to think about something they may choose to write about in the future.

There was actually some common links to the issues that are important to them and the issues that were previously discussed.  Rhianna wants to see more job opportunities for young people, while Darnell, 25, is bothered by the lack of youth clubs.  Sophia thinks that there needs to be more role models coming into schools to encourage young people, and Lauren would like for school to have more of a family environment.

When given the opportunity to really speak out, young people do have a lot to say, particularly on subjects that are important to and relating directly to them.  However, what became clear is that the youth are not aware of the platforms that allow them to voice their opinions.  Lauren made a great point, saying: “If people don’t want you to say something, they won’t let you know.”

Yet if they were made aware, young people would be willing to engage and use their voice, to get their thoughts out there.  Darnell would engage, because he thinks that it “helps to express yourself”, and Rhianna would engage, because she thinks “it’s important that people understand what may be painted in a negative light”.

Image from Among the Regulars and used under Creative Commons License.
Image from Among the Regulars and used under Creative Commons License.

However, what would encourage them to engage is a slightly different matter.  They would want there to be a guarantee that people are listening and reading what they have written, which is to be expected in a time when youth are constantly ignored.  Seeing something come out of it also seems to be an essential element and of course, food was mentioned.  Randy, 19, also said that people who were nice and friendly would encourage him to engage.

Young People Insight still has a long way to go on its journey, but this group of young people helped to take the platform one step further with their thoughts and words of advice.  Working with Fixers will also continue to push it further and I am looking forward to watching how the media project will unfold.

I can’t wait for more young people to get involved and share their amazing stories.  By coming together and making our voices heard in our way, we will make a difference and become the change we want to see.P1130376