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.

Looking Back at Two Years of Young People Insight

I can’t believe it has been two years already; time has flown by ridiculously fast.  Thinking back to my first forum (as it was known then) in January 2016, when I had finally thrown myself into the deep end and was getting an idea of what people wanted for the platform, I never imagined how far it would come.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to start a platform that genuinely impact the lives of young people not just for a season, but for years to come.  Too often, initiatives start and then disappear into the ether – I did not want Young People Insight to be one of them.

This has required a great level of commitment and strength over the past two years, as it is easy to become inconsistent and not take a voluntary role seriously.  However, I am deeply serious about YP Insight, which I hope shines through, and I determined to make a real difference in my community through this platform.

Nevertheless, there have been countless occasions when I have wanted to give up entirely.  Some times it was due to getting caught up in the numbers game, believing that there was no point of carrying on if barely anyone was there.  On other occasions, I questioned if I was making any difference at all.  And then there were the times when life had gotten too much, as I battled with grief, believing in myself and being burnt out.

Through it all, I prayed though and was continuously reminded of why I was doing this in the first place.  I wanted to reach out to young people, empower them and gave them a space to not only make their voices heard, but actually feel that they were being heard in a safe environment where they would be welcomed, loved and accepted.

From what others have told me, I have succeeded in creating this type of environment, which makes me feel touched and extremely happy.  I always feel great inside when individuals feel comfortable enough to open up and share their personal stories – that is what YP Insight is all about.

For me, some of the most special moments at our events have been when people have opened up unexpectedly.  One particular occasion was when Angela took to the stage at our Mental Health themed Poetic Insight to share her experience with mental health problems, which had the room entranced and members of the audience in tears.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

I guess that leads on to some of my favourite memories over the past two years.  I always love having guest speakers at The Kickback, and I especially loved when Stephanie, Matthew, Frances, Kyle and Jason shared their dreams and inspirational stories so far when we focused on the topic of Dreams in May 2015.  Everyone was incredibly engaged and each of their stories was inspiring – that event felt like a real turning point for me.

Stephen leading out on the Online Dating edition of The Kickback was also one of my favourites, as the conversation was so much fun and Stephen did a brilliant job on leading out on a session for the first time.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of that this year.

One of my funniest memories was at our first games night in December 2016.  We were playing charades and Darnell acted out one of the most intense, hilarious sequences I’d ever seen when he was given the song, Hit Me Baby One More Time.  Words cannot describe it, you needed to have been there to see it.

Some of my most stand out YP Insight memories have come from the poetry nights.  There was of course, Poetic Insight: Mental Health in May 2017, which resulted in a level of raw emotion in the room that I had never seen before.  Celebrating our first birthday at Poetic Insight was a truly special occasion, with a full room of support and some ridiculously talented poets.

April’s Poetic Insight will forever be a stand out for me as well, because it was pure fire, which included Annotate’s poem about young people that perfectly sums up YP Insight and our first ever wheel up for first-time performer, Tania.

I’ve loved watching first-time performers take to the stage, sharing a bit of themselves with us and growing in confidence.  One of my proudest moments last year was watching Jack, a first-time performer at Poetic Insight in January, as a feature at Well Versed Ink‘s poetry night.  Occasions like that make YP Insight worth it.

It’s also been a joy to watch young people grow in confidence and feel able to make their voices heard, or lead out on events for the first time.  It’s meant a lot to be able to watch friendships form and new connections develop.  Most of all, I’ve cherished being a part of the journeys of these individuals and observing the great things the continue to do in their lives.

I’ve learnt and gained a lot over the past two years, and I’m continuing to learn more all the time.  There is still a lot of work to do in order for me to take YP Insight to new heights and I intend to get even more happening this year – I wanted to have implemented workshops from last year, but unfortunately that did not happen.

One major factor is that I cannot do all of this all myself, so building the right team is going to be one of the priorities for 2018.  If you’re interested in joining the team, get in touch at youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com

I want to finish by saying a huge thank you to all of you who have supported and been involved in YP Insight over the past two years – none of this would be possible without you.  I hope that this platform continues for many years to come and that it will empower a number of young leaders for our present and future.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.