Looking Back on 2018: A Year of Two Parts

For me, its been a year of two parts at Young People Insight.  Part of it was on a downer and the other part was on the up, which I think had more to do with me than the platform itself.

I struggled a lot with YPI at the early stages of this year and was ready to pack it in, shut the whole thing down once the end of July came around.  I questioned how much difference I was actually making and what the point of the platform was anymore.  I felt I had plateaued.

The saddest thing of all was that I had fallen out of love with YPI.  I didn’t want to be at my own events, I wasn’t enjoying organising them and I questioned the point of putting in work when numbers were dwindling.  It was like I was failing and carrying tirelessly on with something that was not wanted.

However, I eventually came to the realisation that this had a lot to do with me and my fragile mental state, rather than YPI itself.  Once I saw how broken I was, I decided to take some time out (particularly from YPI) to heal and make time for me.  After making that decision, it was like a weight had been lifted and I suddenly felt a lot better.

I began to enjoy my events again and found a revitalised energy, ready to put in work to take YPI to another level.  Most importantly, I found my love for it all over again.

What’s funny is that once I got a new-found energy, the events seemed to gain a lease of new-found energy as well.  The conversations at The Kickback have gotten richer and richer, which  is brilliant to witness, although it has been hellish for my hands to keep up with everything said.

There were was stand out after stand out conversation this year, delivering some stellar gems, but if I was going to choose a favourite for 2018, it would be the conversation on Peace in June.  I was slightly concerned about how a conversation on the topic of peace would go, but it ended up being amazing.  The perspectives of peace were mind-blowing and thought-provoking, definitely making me look at peace in a new light.

Poetic Insight has continued to be inspiring in 2018, with the different poets who have taken to the stage bringing a different feeling to the event each month.  I’ve already made it known that my favourite for 2018 was last month’s event, when some beautiful young people blew me away with their bravery and honesty.

I already cannot wait to see what will come from The Kickback and Poetic Insight next year, especially as the YP Insight Family continues to expand and strengthen.  I think that the conversations are going to get even deeper and richer, and I know that more inspiring, brave young people will bring their poetic talents to the stage.

I also love that we’ll have a brand new logo, designed by a young person, going into the new year, revamping the YPI brand, which I have been wanting to do for so long.  This is definitely a major step in moving YPI forward, which you all have been a part of.  I can’t wait to announce the winner next week.

But what I am really, really excited about is how YPI is going to develop as a whole in 2019.  The team is finally going to expand, beyond little me.  I’m going to have even more great support behind me, advising me along the way.  I’ve also started planning from now and have some fresh ideas in mind that I cannot wait to start executing, as it is going to take this platform to new heights and do even more to empower young people.

It’s going to be great for young people, it’s going to be great for creatives and it’s going to be great for Croydon.  Watch this space.

Bravery Shown at a Special Poetic Insight

There are instances at Young People Insight that truly blow me away and make all the work I put in feel more worthwhile than anything in the world.  This month’s Poetic Insight was one of those.

On November 27th, Poetic Insight came to Urban XChange Bar and Grill for the first time, which I was excited but slightly concerned about.  I was concerned people would go to the wrong venue or get lost.  I was also sick, so I did not want to come out on a cold rainy evening either (I’m just keeping it real), but I am beyond glad I did.

This immediately became one of my favourite ever Poetic Insights, filling me with emotion, pride and wonder.  It made me not only proud to be a young person, but proud of the safe space I have been able to create over the years that incites bravery in young people and encourages them to open up in amazing ways.

The theme of the night was Survival, and returning poet Antonia was first to step onstage, sharing a deep poem about the pain that can come from a romantic relationship and surviving through loving yourself.  Chantae also returned after last month, starting with a poem called Olivia’s Theory, which was in response to a friend, followed by Broken Stopwatch, both brought to life through her beautiful words.

Beverly has been to some of The Kickback sessions, but this was her first time on the Poetic Insight stage.  Despite her nerves, she shared an emotion-fulled poem about pain and vulnerabilities in relationships.

Script Index came to our poetry night for the first time, all the way from West London, to draw us in with his wonderful delivery of True Flow.  Next up was now regular Poetic Insight attendee, but first timer on our stage, Destiny, who shared thought-provoking poems about mental health and an empowering poem about how lit she is.

The following three poets were all extremely brave, raw and openly vulnerable with us on the night, taking to our stage for the first time and wowing all of us.  They were a big part of why this Poetic Insight immediately became one of my favourites.

Emma is the perfect example of why I started Young People Insight.  When I met her on the night, she told me that she wrote poems but was nervous about performing, although she was thinking about it.  She then decided to sign up to perform, but told me she would be going onstage with a friend.  By the time she got onstage, she was willing to stand there on her own and lay herself bare by reading a poem called Mum Break Me The Most.

She was followed by Ingrid, the friend who was supposed to take to the stage with Emma, who also laid herself bare by sharing a deep poem about surviving trauma.  In the poem, she referred to herself as a victim, but I made the point of saying that she is no victim – she is a survivor.

Then it was Adam, who was wrestling with the thought of performing when he got to Poetic Insight as well, telling me that he wanted to perform but was scared.  I encouraged him to think it through, as there is nothing worse than getting onstage when you are half-hearted about it.  In spite of his nerves, he read an amazingly open poem, about consent and sex.

The final poet on stage was the returning Kane Adams (he performed under Adam’s Son last month).  He finished the night not only with some powerful micro poems, but he also provided words of wisdom, which were especially for the “younger” young people in attendance, although I think we all took something from them.  The moments that break away from poetry, while also reaching out to others, are some of my favourites at Poetic Insight.

It was a truly special night, which reminded me of why I set up Young People Insight all over again and why it needs to keep going for the long haul.  I can’t wait to see what more future events will bring.

Poetic Insight will join with The Kickback on December 18th for our final event of the year, when we’ll be ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’.  We’ll be at Urban XChange Bar & Grill ( 1 Lansdowne Rd, Croydon CR9 2BN) from 6.30-9.30pm, so save the date, as you do not want to miss it.

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 Coming Up This November?

We’re already very much into November, which is looking like a quieter month for Young People Insight.  It actually feels weird to only have our two traditional events coming up, with nothing else in store, but it’s nice for things to be a little calmer as we prepare to wind down for the year.

First up, we have the return of The Kickback on its usual third Tuesday.  We’re going to be talking Healthy Relationships, with a focus on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and also violence against women and girls.  We’re going to have a special guest from the arts charity, Tender, to lead out on the conversation with us.

Make sure you’ve got November 20th saved in your diary, rather than November 13th, as I made the mistake of saying at our latest event.  We’ll be back at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm, for more great conversations and more snacks.  You can sign up for free here: bit.ly/letstalkhealthyrelationships

Then a week later, Poetic Insight will be back, but in a brand new home.  We’ll be bringing more inspiring poetry and spoken word to you from Urban XChange Bar & Grill, which is still in Croydon Town Centre and even nearer to East Croydon train station.

This month’s theme is Survival, which I think is going to be powerful and very interesting.  If you want to share your poetry or spoken word, email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or you can simply sign up on the night.  Just be sure to be at Urban XChange Bar & Grill from 7-9pm so you don’t miss out.  Get your free tickets now: bit.ly/poeticinsight-survival

We’re in for another month of powerful events, set to inform and inspire.  Be sure to tell a friend to tell a friend, as we love welcoming new faces – a big smile is always in store.  Looking 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.

Back on Our Black Ish at Poetic Insight

We were back on our Black Ish at Poetic Insight on October 30th, to mark Black History Month.  This was one of my favourite editions of Poetic Insight last year, and this year was no different.  It was a brilliant way to bring Poetic Insight back after the break.

First onstage was the amazing Zhanai, fresh off her performance at Croydon’s first LIP Fest.  She blew us away with her amazing words in a personal poem, called Rest in Peace, and a new poem called Supernova.

Elisha was back on the Poetic Insight stage with another inspirational monologue for us, speaking to us about Cycles and Doubts.

We welcomed Chantae to Poetic Insight for the first time, who first performed a deep poem called Door Handle, followed by a poem written especially for Black History Month, which had everyone clicking in excitement and agreement.

Reii was also on our stage for the first time.  First, she shared a beautiful poem about Maya Angelou, then she broke it down for us with a powerful poem about being a black, Muslim woman.

I’ve seen Adam’s Son perform at a number of poetry nights in Croydon, but this was the first time he performed at Poetic Insight.  He had us all engaged with his rhythmic and powerful spoken word, including a beautifully personal piece about his daughter and the impact she had on his life.

Poetic Insight regular, Mhairi, laid herself bare with a raw and honest poem about her experience with race and family, which I think touched all of us.

Antonia returned to share two powerful poems, starting with A Black Girl’s Epiphany, which fitted right in with our theme, followed by The Tears of an Outspoken Woman.

I performed the final poem of the night, Don’t Box Me In, which is a spoken word piece challenging the perception of what it means to be black.

Thank you to the beautiful Zhanai, Elisha, Chantae, Reii, Adam’s Son, Mhairi and Antonia for sharing on the night, and thank you to all of the beautiful people who came out to watch and support.  An extra special thank you to Darren from Well Versed Ink for acting as our DJ on the night.  I could not do this without any of you.

It was another special and inspiring event, filled with love and I’m already looking forward to this month.  Poetic Insight returns on November 27th from 7-9pm, when the theme will be Survival.  We’ll also be at a new home, so make sure you come along to the Urban XChange Bar & Grill ( 1 Lansdowne Rd, Croydon CR9 2BN) to avoid missing out.  See 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.

What’s Coming Up This October?

It’s the first week of October, which means that we’re officially back.  Have you missed us over the past couple of months?  We’ve missed you and are excited to be back with an exciting set of events.

First up is a special collaborative event with Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) to raise awareness of Trafficking and Modern Slavery, happening just two days before Anti-Slavery Day.

As this is a collaboration, it won’t be a typical YP Insight event.  We’re combining discussion and poetry, with an inter-generational focus, giving individuals from all ages the opportunity to learn from each other.

This is going to be a powerful and informative event, so be sure to save October 16th in your diary.  We’ll be back in Project B from 6.30-8.30pm, and of course we’re bringing the snacks.  Register now so you don’t miss out on the chance to expand your mind and make your voice heard: bit.ly/letstalkabouttrafficking

We are excited to be one of the organisations bringing Croydon’s first ever poetry and spoken word festival to life.  Living in Poetry Festival (LIP Fest) will be taking over Stanley Halls on October 27th and 28th, from 10am to the 27th and 11am on the 28th.

There is something for everyone, of any age, with activities ranging from scratch performances, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, and showcases for all ages and abilities.  And if you’re 14-19, you can sign up to free workshops with our partner organisations, Well Versed Ink and Writerz n Scribez, on Saturdays leading up the festival.  Go to lipfestival.com for more information.

Then we’re back on our Black-Ish at Poetic Insight to celebrate Black History Month.  Last year was beautiful and this year is sure to be even better, so you don’t want to miss it.

We’ll be in Project B on October 30th from 7-9pm, with our traditional open mic format particularly for young people aged 16-26.  If you want to share your poetry or spoken word, email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or you can sign up on the night.  In the meantime, get your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-blackish18

It’s going to be a powerful and enjoyable month of events, which I am really looking forward to.  I am also looking forward to seeing your beautiful faces after such a long time, so that will make the events even better.  As usual, you will be greeted by a smile and a hug from me.  Looking 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.

Pure Fire from Young Talent at Poetic Insight

There was a double dose of Poetic Insight in July, as our regular monthly night took place on July 31st after coming to Thornton Heath Arts Week (THAW) for the first time two weeks prior.

I love poetry, so it was great to have two poetry events to see out Young People Insight’s activities before going on my extended break.  And boy, did we see out our events with a bang.  I fully mean it when I say that if you were not there, you missed out.  It was pure fire.

Returning to the Poetic Insight stage for the second time that month – following his THAW debut – was Elisha with his usual words of wisdom, encouraging us to connect with people.

Like Elisha, Antonia debuted for us at THAW and had us up in our feelings again by sharing a beautiful poem dedicated to her late cousin.  Antonia displayed incredibly bravery, as her cousin only passed away during the weekend and she managed to get through the piece without crying.

Veteran, Aaron, encouraged us all to never give up, utilising his wonderful way with words to inspire us all.  Second time performer, Emma, continued to display bravery and honesty as she gave us a greater insight into who she is with a gorgeously deep poem.

Aaron James took to the Poetic Insight stage for the first time and brought fire with a real, raw messages that made us all think.  Ada was real and raw as well, delivering a strong poem about knife crime.

We were happy to welcome Kris back to our stage, who had us all engaged and clicking away with his bars on the mic.  It was amazing to watch him bring a two-way conversation to life through spoken word.

The night then elevated to an even higher level when Annotate blew us all away, and branded me speechless, with a powerful new poem that told a hard-hitting story.  Mhairi then brought us to tears with a poem dedicated to fellow member of the YP Insight family, Samirah, who also sat crying in the audience – that is friendship goals right there.

Then Woodzy came and brought down the house with his spoken word poem, 90s Baby, which got everyone clicking and shouting out in excitement.  The level of nostalgia was unbelievable, and coupled with his amazing delivery, made it one of my favourite moments ever.

Although I didn’t intend to perform, I shared the final poems of the night – I was encouraged by everyone in the audience, because it was my last event in a while.  First, I  shared a poem about three treasured family members who died in the past two years, as it is my goal to get to Heaven and part of the reason is to see them again.  Then I shared a short poem about my transition from darkness to light.

I want to say a huge thank you to the beauties who performed on the night, and all the beauties who came out to support.  I could not do any of this without any of you and it is truly a pleasure to know you amazing people.

As I mentioned earlier, I am going on an extended break to take time to heal, so Poetic Insight will not be back until October.  This is also going to be the last post until October, but please look back on our past posts and get some great insights into what young people are saying and thinking.

If you would like to stay in contact, meet up on a social level, or get updated on when we’re coming back, email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or follow @ShanqMarie on Twitter and DM me, as the YP Insight social media will be inactive as well.  See you beautiful people in October.

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.

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.