What makes a healthy relationship? – Part 2

We were talking Healthy Relationships at The Kickback on November 20th, which led to a great conversation with so much said that I had split the write-up into two parts.  Part 1 provided insight into our thoughts on what relationships are, what makes them healthy and the idea of agape love.

After speaking about what we think makes a relationship healthy, I asked the question, what do you do when your relationship becomes unhealthy?  For this question, I wanted everyone’s answer to be what they personally do, rather than what they think you should do.

Rhianna told us, “I look for what’s going wrong between me and the person, to see where the fault lies.”  However, Gus feels like the relationship was essentially unhealthy in the beginning, to which Mhairi asked, “What do you do when your relationship with yourself becomes unhealthy?”  Gus responded by saying that he thinks the only thing you can address is your own past.

Tanica shared that she is a massive mover of energy, so she tends to mediate and as she meditates, she breaks down what is going on internally with herself and what’s going on internally with the other person.  Then she will approach them diplomatically and let them know how she feels.

Elisha believes that if a relationship is bad, then you should leave it, while Mhairi said, “I just think everyone needs a time out sometimes.”

Lisa threw in the question, “How do you know when a relationship has become unhealthy?”  Rhianna said, “I’m aware of myself and my emotions in my body.  I’ll feel it in my stomach.”  Mhairi thinks that some people can be oblivious, and Gus thinks that it is about understanding.

I said that I know when someone starts draining me, which I felt strongly with my last boyfriend.  Gus went on to make the interesting point of how the relationship between a mother and their child can be draining, as children can drain their mother.

Next, I referred to the Twitter thread that I wrote a blog post in response to last week and asked to hear what everyone’s thoughts on it were.  Rhianna instantly stated that she agreed with it, and Gus said, “I sympathise with that… In a lot of instances, a no does mean convince me.”  He later went on to say, “I think the problem is that women want the man to be assertive, but to what point or what detriment.”

Rhianna thinks it also depends on the person that it’s happening to, but that it doesn’t justify the way a lot of guys act.  Elisha made the point of saying, “People also pressure,” while Lisa strongly said, “Own your no.”

This got on to a discussion about the murkiness of consent and what consent may or may not look like.  “Why is the onus on women to be assertive and someone that they’re not in certain situations?” Lisa asked.  Mhairi also said, “Under pressure or trauma, you can’t always portray what you want to.”

This month, The Kickback was linked to the White Ribbon Campaign, which is a movement to end male violence against women and girls, so we spent some time speaking about this.  I started by asking, “Why do you think men are violent towards women and girls?”

To provide some background on her answer, Mhairi spoke about the Channel 4 documentary series, Woman, saying that it can be used as a military tactic to break down women, as well as it coming from a place of power, control, money ideas and hatred of women.

Gus really made us all think when he said, “The issue isn’t the men attacking the women.  It’s what’s inside the men. Men are attacking each other… To get to the root of it, you have to understand why men are the way they are.”

As someone who knows men who have been violent towards women, Tanica believes that it comes down to a variety of factors – “Sometimes it’s broken down to religious factors.  Sometimes its culture.  Sometimes its upbringing.”

Lisa said, “There are men who are violent to everybody, and there are men who direct their violence to their partners and no one else, because they know they’ll get away with it.  In their environment, they’ll have power and control.”

I then asked, how do you think we can put an end to violence against women and girls?  Elisha thinks it’s good to talk to the police and let them sort things out, while Mhairi thinks the only thing that is helping is grass-roots communities and groups.

Gus feels that men go for women, because they assume they’re more vulnerable, but if she turns round and kicks him in the head, he’s less likely to attack her.  However, the idea of fighting back makes Lisa nervous – “When we cut out the need to even have self-defense classes, then I feel we’re on the right path.”  Lisa thinks the key is education and awareness.

My final question was, how can we have more healthy relationships?  I’ll leave you with the two responses: Mhairi said, “A shift in society” and Gus said, “A shift in oneself.”

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

Poetry Meets Conversation at Poetic Insight

We continued this month’s focus on violence at Poetic Insight on April 24th, which brought together powerful poetry with more compelling conversation.

Mahmoud returned to the Poetic Insight stage, again sharing poetry he wrote after getting inspired on the night.  He dropped some strong, thought-provoking lines with his own style.

Paul Point graced our stage for the first time, leaving us in awe through his powerful delivery and masterful wordplay, taking us through stories in poetic form.

We were also joined by Sarah Jones MP, who spoke about the work she does and engaged in a conversation with us about youth violence.  One of the initial things she touched on was the barriers between young people and the police, with a lot still needing to be done to break these barriers down.

Sarah asked us about what we could possibly do or what we think could be done to address the issue of youth violence.  Renee expressed that people want to be involved in the community, but sometimes they don’t know how.  However, she did share some ways that members of the community could get involved, particularly through an initiative she is developing as part of her organisation, Croydon Community Leaders.

Mahmoud asked, “How will young people like me have a voice?”  Sarah was adamant that young people need to be part of every decision that is made when decisions are being made about young people, referencing panels that take place to discuss young people, but have no young people on the panel.

A number of interesting points were made regarding prisons – “Some young people spoke about how prison was a break for them,” said Sarah – how we interact with young people, the services available to them and how we make information about those services available, as well as some of the root causes – “There are connectors that are much more important than the colour of your skin,” said Sarah.

To end, I shared a poem I wrote especially for the night, comparing the violence in our city to a war zone.  However, I want to leave you with Sarah’s words, “This is the start of tackling a problem that is at a record high.”

Poetic Insight is back on May 29th  when the theme will be ‘Mental Health’.  Last year was really special, so save the date because you will not want to miss it.  We’ll be at Project B of our usual time of 7-9pm.  If you would like to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or get in contact through social media.

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 April?

Clocks have gone forward and more sun has been in the sky, which hopefully means that spring will finally arrive this month.  There’s also a lot coming up for YP Insight in April that I am very much looking forward to.

As part of Matthews Yard’s 6th birthday celebrations on April 21st, there will be a Poetic Insight segment from 8.45-9.15pm, which will be a special event to be part of.  There is an opportunity for some of the poets and spoken word artists who have performed at Poetic Insight in the past to share their poetry on the night, so please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com if you would like to be part of it.

On April 22nd, we are collaborating with Poetry Prescribed to put on a free poetry workshop, for 16-26 year olds in Croydon, on the subject on mental health.  From 1.30-4.30pm, young people will take part in a  thought-provoking session of reading, speaking, creating and sharing poetry.  You don’t need to be a poet to join, just come with an open mind.  Spaces are very limited, so register now to avoid missing out: bit.ly/letsdiscussmentalhealth

The focus of YP Insight this month will be violence, which could not have come at a more relevant time.  The spate of violent attacks and killings in London so far this year has been crazy and like nothing I have never seen reported before.  The use guns and knives seems to be more prevalent, raising more and more questions with limited answers coming to the fore.

This is why the conversation on ‘Youth Violence’ at The Kickback will be of the utmost importance.  The Kickback is not only about focusing on topics that matter to young people, but also trying to come up with solutions to create a better society for us to live in.

The event will be hosted by Jamal Khan, as it was his chosen topic of conversation, on April 17th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B.  This is not to be missed, so if you want to have your say on something that involves all of us and be part of making change happen, register here: bit.ly/letstalkaboutyouthviolence

‘Violence’ will be the theme for Poetic Insight the following week, giving us the opportunity to speak our minds and shine a light on the issue in a creative form.  I believe that this is going to be incredibly powerful and another unmissable event, especially as we are going to be joined by local youth organisation, Music Relief.

Save the date of April 24th and remember be at Project B between 7-9pm – performances start at 7.30pm.  If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or send a message to 07910092565, and I’ll add your name to the list.  If you’d prefer to simply engage by sitting in the audience, register for your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-violence

It was great to be back at the YP Insight events last month and I am looking forward to seeing you throughout April.  Please do make the most of the opportunities available, stay safe and most of all, show love and respect to each other.

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.

Weapon of Choice

Don’t you find it confusing,

That what was once a cooking utensil,

Sometimes a utility tool,

Is now a lethal weapon?

A weapon of choice for young men,

Wanting to intimidate,

Inflict violence,

Cause pain.

Instead of using their voice box

To talk,

The blade now becomes

The voice of reason.

Instead of being shiny and beautiful,

Silver has become a colour

Connected to violence

And death.

Sometimes the cold sharp blade

Slashes or cuts,

Leaving the victim lucky

With just a permanent scar;

But there are the times

When it will slice through

A little deeper,

Penetrate an artery or puncture an organ,

Leaving the victim not only with a scar

But a time of death.

Because with that weapon in their hand

They feel big,

They feel strong,

They’ve got power pumping through their veins;

Without realising that blade

Isn’t a part of them,

That they alone

Will have to deal with the punishment,

The consequences,

The hurt faces of family and friends,

But that knife they held

In the palm in their hands

Will still be completely free.

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Lack of Respect

During my time away last week, I was again made aware of the lack of respect that young people have not only for their elders, but for each other.  This is an issue that has bothered me for a long period of time, mainly because I feel that a lack of respect is one of the factors behind many of the issues that young people are wrapped up in.

Young people not only have a lack of respect for those around them, but they also have quite a distorted view of respect, which I struggle to understand.  It is as if they think that respect goes hand in hand with power, violence and unruly behaviour, but that is not what respect should be.  Respect is about treating others fairly, exhibiting manners and speaking to people in the right way.

This misunderstanding of respect also means that respect for human life in general has gone out the window for many young individuals, which means that they will carry out acts of violence – especially stabbings – without a second thought.

It seems that this lack of respect worsens as the ages get younger, which is an extremely worrying factor and makes me determined to understand why young people choose to show disrespect.

I would like to hear your views on this subject and how you think we could address this issue, as there is so much more to say, which I plan to focus on in a future piece.

Violent Crime: A Growing Issue

It is disturbingly worrying to see so many young individuals turning to violence to resolve certain situations.  What is worst, however, is that they are turning to weapons to carry out their violent crimes, which results in further trauma.

In this world, it appears that we have a problem with communication, especially us young people.  We spend countless hours using technology and prefer to communicate via Twitter, WhatsApp or Snapchat, which makes communicating in the real world a lot harder.

There are numerous issues, arguments or disagreements that can or could have been solved through effective communication, but instead we get agitated or offended, which leads to further problems and in some cases, violence.

In America, we see that individuals have turned to guns, while here in England, individuals have turned to knives.  It seems like it is easier to take someone out or cause them harm, rather than talk to them, which simply does not make sense.

Violent crime leads to further hurt and pain, for both parties involved and their loved ones.  When did a prison sentence become more appealing than a conversation?  When did we stop having respect for human life?

In society, we need to learn to talk to one another in a rational manner and have respect for one another.  However, when I say respect, I do not mean this warped issue of respect that some young people seem to have.  I mean real, deep-rooted respect.

We need to care about one another, learn to understand those around us, and most of all, respect human life.  The question that now remains is: Where do we start?

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