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.

Bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon

Last month, I took part in the European youth project, The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) for the third time.  This year we were in the town of Sarteano, Italy, where we took part in the usual assortment of workshops, discussions and showcases.

A project centred on inclusiveness, tolerance and equality, TFCT is the perfect example of what Europe and the extended world could be if we were more accepting of each other and worked together, rather than fight against each other.

Most of all, it shows the importance of art – how it can bring people together and begin to create change.  This has been a great inspiration to me and an element that I’ve taken forward in developing Young People Insight – in fact, YP Insight probably would not be what it is now without TCFT.

This year I brought a bit of YP Insight to Sarteano by holding a poetry night as part of TCFT.  As always, it was filled with varying talent and amazing poetry on a variety of different themes.  However, unlike Poetic Insight, all of the performers were not young people, but TCFT is all about transcending age.

Poems were presented in different languages, which brought different levels and beautiful cultural diversity to the night.  Francesco’s poems were read in Italian, and also translated into English and Romanian.  Maya and Sandra performed poems in Bosnian, while Saša delivered a poem in Serbian.

Image by Irina Ganescu.

There were themes about love, self, fitting in and dance.  Some poems were more personal than others, giving us a deeper insight into the individual which is always beautiful.  Hopefully there will be some footage up online soon so you will be able to experience what was an amazing night.

Thank you to Francesco, Sandra, Julia, Sylvia, Luka, Ellie, Izzy, Maya, Molly, Ricky, Liviu, Raul and Saša – the night would not have been what it was without you.  I also want to thank everyone else who was behind the scenes and helped me to get the night organised I could not have pulled this off on my own in a country that was foreign to me.

TCFT is a truly special experience, which words cannot do enough justice for.  You cannot fully comprehend it unless you live it yourself, which is why I intend to bring more of TCFT to Croydon over time.  I’ve seen the change and effect it has had on the lives of the young people involved, including myself.  I can genuinely say that it has changed my life and I would not be the leader that I am now without it.

Just watch this space.

Show Support to The Complete Freedom of Truth

Following the news, it’s become commonplace for us to hear about Brexit, fractured relationships in Europe, Trump wanting to ban immigrants from the USA and many other examples of conflicts throughout the world.

We live in a world and a society overrun with conflict and struggles to live together peacefully – harmony seems like an impossibility.  This makes it all the more important for initiatives and exchanges to take place, which will bring individuals from different aspects of life and different parts of the world together.

This is exactly what The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) does.  You will have seen me write posts about TCFT before on this blog, as I have been blessed enough to take part in the project over the past few years.

TCFT is a five-year project which aims to “develop global youth citizenship through culture and the arts”.  Time spent embracing creativity, as well as learning about policies and democracies, through various workshops, presentations, activities and sharing evenings is a rewarding experience.  It enables all participants to develop skills, build friendships and grow into change-makers that will have an impact on their communities, Europe and hopefully the world as a whole.

The Complete Freedom of Truth, Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 2015 from robert golden on Vimeo.

It is an environment where experiences and views are shared without judgement, prejudices are eradicated and everyone is seen as equal.  Age, race, nationality, sexuality, religion and level of ability does not matter – each of us is human and that is all that matters.  Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all thought like that?

The project can also be a life-changing and thought-provoking process.  A young person from Bosnia, who was self-admittedly lazy, is working on developing on organisation in their country.  A young Romanian, who said that she was previously a little racist, has changed the way she thinks and is apologetic about it.  And I know that I probably would not have taken Young People Insight further without TCFT – I was able to develop my confidence, shake off some of my fears and it was there that I performed my first piece of spoken word.

TCFT is a truly special project that more people should be aware of, because we are slowly trying to repair some of the cracks in Europe through unity and creativity.  Instead of constantly reporting on Brexit, why doesn’t the media report that?

However, projects like this cost money and TCFT is in need of some funds for this year’s residency in Italy.  We are going to continue our creative practices and have further discussions on EU policy, which we as young people need a greater understanding of.

There is currently a crowdfunding campaign running throughout the month of February, which needs your support.  Please donate as little as £5 (more would be great) and then share it with others.  Raising money is not only important, but raising awareness is a vital aspect of the campaign.

You can donate to The Complete Freedom of Truth’s campaign on the Crowdfunder site:


Happy Birthday Young People Insight

My baby;

Born out of a time of confusion,

Searching for fulfillment,

Something better,

More special than I imagined

Came along.

Not what I planned,

Or expected,

It hit me by surprise;

But I knew I had to nurture it,

Feed it,

Give attention to it;

Although I didn’t ask for it,

Hadn’t planned for it,

I knew I wanted it,

Grew to love it;

In spite of the uncertainty,


How would I do this?

Help and advice would be a necessity

For every step of this journey;

I knew I could do it.

So I took the first step,

Second step forward,

Bringing my baby to life;

Watching it develop,

Month after month,

More insight coming to mind.

Now my baby

Has turned a year old,

I can’t believe the first birthday is here;

Directions have changed,

Thought processes become clear

And new people in my life I’ve drawn near.

I’m excited to see

What this next year will bring

As my baby grows to new heights;

More young people to reach,

More voices to be heard,

But now I simply say,

Happy Birthday Young People Insight.


Celebrating Live Mag UK: Insight from the Contributors

At Christmas, Live Mag UK came to an end, after 15 years of giving young people a voice and providing them with invaluable journalism experience.  However, the magazine (later online platform) created for young people by young people deserves to be celebrated.

Love Live Live

What made Live truly special was the people.  On Saturday, you got a little insight from the final two editors of Live, but today is all about the contributors.  As someone who contributed to Live myself, I can say that it was an amazing, unique and fun experience, but I’ll let some of my fellow contributors fill you in on their personal Live experiences.

Andre Live MagAndre spent two years as a contributor for Live, which gave him a voice on “all things film, business, interviews and the like”.  It also taught him “more about using existing marketing, advertising, campaigns as tools to break new, existing, stories”.

According to Andre, what makes Live so special is “the fact that it’s a different world to what I am used to when working within creative and arts industries, especially in the office. As you go in, the atmosphere has a cool and creative vibe.”

C-Jay Live MagC-Jay spent six months contributing to Live, coming to seek opportunities that would help her to reach her ambition.  During her time at Live, C-Jay learnt “that taking risks is good, sometimes they will be good but sometimes they will be bad but you’ll never know. I should continuously strive towards what I believe in and never give up.”

During the surprise ‘Live Mag Awards’, C-Jay received the award for ‘Most Read Article’ — “It was SO shocking, I truly was not expecting it. Personally, I wrote the article because it was something that interested me and didn’t realise that it would interest others. I was overjoyed and realised that if I were to change my ambition to being a journalist, I may be able to.

Sophia Live MagSophia came to Live because she had to find work experience for school and started contributing in summer 2015.  During that time, her favourite article written would be “the TPAB review. I’m in love with hip hop as a whole and Kendrick Lamar. I was super glad I was able to share my thoughts with everyone.”

Sophia said: “I have learnt many things from Live. I have learnt about how other minds work (not just my own) as I’m constantly asking for others opinions… I have also learned to take risks and not be afraid of who I am. A young, black female. The industry is dominated by a particular demographic and I want to be able to push through and make my mark. I won’t be afraid to bring council estates and Morleys to a prestigious building I don’t care!”

Malachi Live MagAlthough Malachi only contributed “on one occasion due to work/study commitments”, he “found Live to be a very welcoming and informed bunch of people”.  He made the decision to contribute because he believes “youth led journalism is badly needed in an industry where our voices are seldom ever heard”.

Malachi’s reason for coming to Live ties directly in with his thoughts on what makes it so special: “Live is special because they create opportunities for young people to have their voices heard. Something that is not happening enough.”

Shanice Live MagShanice‘s time with Live was short, contributing once in 2015 when Live worked with the Guardian to create a special, one-off print edition of Live Magazine, but also carrying out work experience with Livity.  However, it didn’t stop her from winning the award of Social Media G at the ‘Live Mag Awards’ — “Social Media G, that title alone is just sick lol. I was super happy, like the experience was enough, but to get an award and really feel appreciated was just awesome.”

Shanice came to Live, because she wanted to explore youth culture and arts, which she felt Live and Livity represented.  During her time at Live, she learnt “about really embracing your individuality and [that] every voice matters, which I sort of already knew. But sharing stories and spending time with the team made it real for me.”

Live Zine
Live Zine Front Cover

Live has a special place in the hearts of so many young people and it will be missed by all of us.  Sophia said, “I’m going to miss the people, the vibes and even the long ass stair case! I guess I’m just going to miss the whole thing.”

So thank you Live for everything and all that’s left are two final messages from C-Jay and Shanice.

“I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me, although I contributed for a short time. I wish we could’ve met each other earlier. I’ll always cherish the memories I made whilst being here and continue striving towards my ambition.” – C-Jay

“Live was the starter for many and even though it’s going their ethos lives on, so really Live ain’t going nowhere cuz the young people and supporters will stay representing! Long Live Live!” – Shanice

Taking Part in The Complete Freedom of Truth

From the 11th to the 23rd of August, I was fortunate enough to be in the gorgeous town of Srebrenica in Bosnia & Herzegovina with over 100 other young people.  We had come together from seven countries across Europe for the first stage of The Complete Freedom of Truth.P1140439

The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) is a five-year project which aims to “develop global youth citizenship through culture and the arts”.  The website goes further to say: “The project aims to raise consciousness and encourage a vision of an equal, inclusive and truly democratic society.  The project is led through a process of non formal learning, combining the highest quality of cultural and arts practice, inspired and facilitated by highly gifted and experienced partners, practitioners and artists.”

During the first week, we were able to take part in a number of taster workshops, which enabled us to choose the workshop we would stick with the following week. I decided to get a taste of poetry, making choices, ensemble theatre and music, which were enjoyable and insightful in different ways.  They also allowed me to explore various aspects of who I am.

The music workshop provided some truly beautiful, emotional moments that I will treasure forever, but it was the poetry workshop that had the biggest effect on me.  Our workshop co-ordinator, Amy, emphasised that “the power of words is really important” — which I think is very true — and we discussed the possibility of our words making a change.

I’m all about words making a change, so this was a perfect fit for me, but it was amazing at how much I learned about myself in those few hours.  The main thing I realised is that I’m actually better at writing poetry than I think and that poetry, particularly spoken word, has the ability to say a lot and possibly influence change.

After the tasters, everyone had the opportunity to choose between music, ensemble theatre, dance, street theatre and Parkour.  There was also the option to take part in a workshop to help people get a better understanding of the world we live in, and what we can do as politicals and artists to relate who and what we are to the world we live in.

Each of these workshops resulted in a showcase of performances on the final Friday, which allowed everyone to display their creativity and the skills they had developed.  However, we had also been treated to various performances and presentations throughout the two weeks, including a film night, a finger puppet show and a stunning collaborative dance performance.

‘Collaboration’ was the key term during our time in Srebrenica, with numerous individuals using their teamwork skills and collaborating to create special pieces.  Amy, Eilis, Dave, Zoe, Izzy and Emma, six young individuals from the UK, came together to create a beautiful short film — they also took their collaboration further by bringing in some extra help from others.  I also enjoyed collaborating on a poetry and imagery piece with my two roommates, Naomi and Ellie, who are also from the UK.

My favourite moment though, was a musical spoken word collaboration by eight individuals with differing creative talents.  The whole performance gave me chills, as they recited emotive spoken word verses and sang a stunning chorus with the words: “There is light at the end of the tunnel, I will rise and take my place”.

There were a number of things that made TCFT an incredibly special experience, but for me, the best thing was watching all of the young people get fully involved in the process.  Everyone wanted to be doing something and have some sort of purpose, which is not always the case when it comes to youth.

It was evident that each individual wants to make some sort of difference and progress forward in their life, which was great to see.  Time spent working with each young person was a good experience and I want to be able to bring this spirit to Croydon.

Being a part of TCFT was like being part of a big family with a common goal and a common purpose.  It was amazing to be around so many inspiring, talented young people and watch them grow throughout such a short space of time.  I know that I grew and gained a whole lot, which I will be taking forward in all that I aim to do here in the UK.

Photo by Naomi Gabriel.
Photo by Naomi Gabriel and used with permission.

All I can say now is bring on next year.

Why you should give back with Future First

Earlier this week, I returned to the school where I spent seven years studying for SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels.  Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College for Girls (NMBEC) holds a special place in my heart, because of the amazing teachers I was inspired by, the many lessons I learned and the great friends I made there.

However, on this occasion, I was not there for a social visit.  Instead, I came to speak to the girls in Year 9, who are beginning to consider their GCSE options.  Myself and two other NMBEC alumni sat on a panel to speak about our GCSE options and how they may have (or may not have) contributed to what we are doing now.

This particular event was put on by the school in partnership with the charitable organisation, Future First.  According to the Future First website: “Future First’s vision is that every school should be supported by a thriving, engaged alumni community. Our programme provides the infrastructure and expertise that make establishing these communities easy and inexpensive.”

Future First allows state schools to engage and keep in closer contact with their alumni, resulting in greater opportunities for current students.  Alumni can offer support or work experience, provide students with advice on their career aspirations, and most of all, inspire young people in a time when there is so much working against them.

Image by RRZEicons and used under Creative Commons License.
Image by RRZEicons and used under Creative Commons License.

When I was contacted by Future First and informed about what they do, I immediately wanted to get involved.  I not only wanted to give back to the school that gave me so much, but I also wanted to offer advice and support to students that I did not necessarily have at their age.

Speaking to the girls in Year 9 was a great experience and I loved seeing their enthusiasm, as they threw up their hands to shower us with questions.  I could also see that they had gained something from the session, which made me feel happy, because that is what you really want to see.

Future First is a special organisation that is inspiring, and is going to inspire, countless young people.  Alumni are really important to any educational organisation, because they exemplify what current students can aspire to and they could provide them with the inspiration that many young people may be missing.

I encourage you to head to the Future First website and look at how you may be able to get involved.  You never know, they might be connected to your old school and I can tell you, it feels great when you are able to give back.NMBEC