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.”

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What makes a healthy relationship? – Part 1

The conversation at The Kickback on November 20th was all about Healthy Relationships, which I knew was going to be a great conversation, but I wasn’t prepared for how great it was going to be.  There was a whole lot of ground covered and a whole lot we couldn’t even get to – we genuinely needed another hour.  With so much said, I’m going to split what we spoke about into two parts, so that your brain doesn’t get too frazzled.

We were joined by Lisa from Tender, which is an arts charity currently in Croydon for two years.  Their focus is on healthy relationships and talking about what domestic abuse is.  “Our aim is to end violence against women and men,” Lisa said.  Tender uses creative ways to talk about relationships with young people, particularly drama – “Drama is an interesting tool to open up that conversation.”

After Lisa’s introduction, I began with the question, what is a relationship?  Gus’ response was a “connection between two people, but that may not even be a thing,” which Mhairi backed up by saying that it could be with yourself.

Mhairi also shared that she was thinking about addictions and things that are unhealthy when Gus spoke about having relationships with things.  Lisa took this further when she told us that she hears a lot of children speaking about their relationship with gaming.

When I asked, what makes a relationship healthy, Mhairi said that “most of the time, a healthy relationship is mutually beneficial.”  Gus counteracted this by saying that with a mother, you can give a lot and not necessarily get a lot back.

Tanica’s initial response was agape love – “You don’t ask for anything in return.  Everything comes from the heart.”  This led to extended  time speaking about agape love, as well as our relationships with family and friends.

Mhairi asked, “How often do we see agape love?”  Glenn said, “With family, it’s quite common, but with friends and other people, you’re not really gonna see it.”  However, Tanica shared that her friends have passed that hand of friendship and they are like family – “That’s where I see the love.”

I spoke about my confusion concerning the concept of family, not feeling that some of my blood family members actually felt like family at all, but that there are friends of mine who have become family and I literally see them as blood.

Mhairi feels like “family is very changeable” and that there are many aspects to family in the 21st Century that allow us to bring others in easily.  Lisa also shared, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that I’ve sort of created my own family… Like, what’s the definition anymore?”

Gus believes that the only way you know its unconditional love is if you’re put through the hardships with that person.  Lisa also thinks that “there’s something about the dynamics of different relationships and it’s important to separate… I don’t think unconditional love comes into romantic relationships.  I would gage them differently to my other relationships.

Other responses about what makes a relationship healthy included:

  • Balance – Rhianna
  • Accountability – Joan
  • Communication – Lisa
  • Understanding – Tanica
  • Respect and trust – Elisha
  • Lessons.  “Someone has to teach me something and I have to teach them something.” – Mhairi
  • Common interests.  “Sometimes we’re just coming together for the sake of coming together.” – Jennifer

Jennifer also said that you’ve got to love yourself how you want to be loved.  On the other hand, Mhairi believes that “some people don’t know what self-love is and still get married and stuff…  I think the idea of self-love has become very confusing.”  This led on to a whole other discussion about self-love, which was getting very deep and looking to go the distance, so I decided to give it a night of its own and we’ll be talking Self-Love in February next year.

Look out for Part 2, so you can get the full picture of our conversation and what was said when we spoke about relationships getting unhealthy, consent and violence against women.

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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.

Why I Am Taking Time Out to Heal

If you read last week’s blog post, you would have seen that the events taking place this month were going to be the last YPI events for a little while.  It’s not that YPI is going anywhere or quickly disappearing – I am simply in need of a break.  An extended one.

For the past few months, it has honestly been the thought of an extended break that has kept me going, through all the busy-ness and numerous events I have been putting on.  Knowing that I will have time to genuinely relax, clear my head and refresh has provided me with some kind of new found balance, which I have desperately needed.

Since launching YPI as a physical platform, I have barely taken time to stop and breathe.  There has been little moments of reflection here and there, as well as little breaks, but no substantial time for recovery.

As well as developing YPI over the past two years, I have been participating in TCFT and then putting on TCFT Croydon, working part-time, going on poetry courses, writing and performing poetry, crowdfunding, attending numerous meetings and events, consistently sending and responding to e-mails, putting on workshops and writing articles, as well as some other things.

This doesn’t even include my return to counselling, the grief caused by the death of three family members, the continued heartbreak from friends, the hurt caused by guys, my mental health struggles, and the consistent battles to stay positive, believe in myself and grow in confidence.

It has been a lot and I have gotten incredibly exhausted.  I found myself lost, my mind has been all over the place and I was beginning to shut down, which was not okay.

That is why I need this extended time away from YPI, to heal, reflect and work on myself.  I want to give my brain the opportunity to switch off a little, because it whirls around way too much, making deep, refreshing rest difficult to achieve.  I also want to spend a little more time focusing on the issues of my own heart, which are often neglected and need to be addressed.

I also intend on taking some of the time to give consideration to YPI, so it can continue to improve and reach more young people.  This platform is special and can do great things, but improvements and developments are very much-needed.

However, I am only one person and I cannot keep this platform going on my own, especially if I want it to grow.  Doing so much on my own is part of what brought me to the point of exhaustion and has made me want to give up on so many occasions.  It truly is a lot.

Across August, it is going to be a full on YPI break, with no events, blog posts, newsletters or social media posts at all – apart from the 1st to the 3rd August after our final July event.  However, our presence will return on social media towards the end of September, and then events, blog posts and newsletters will be back in October.

Don’t worry though, I’m not disappearing off the face of the earth.   I’ll be around to hang out with and my phone will be on, so you can catch me by text, WhatsApp or on social media.  This is actually a great opportunity to get to know more of you on a social level, which is an important element of YPI.

So try and make yourself available to come along to at least one of the YPI events this month, before the long break.  We’ve got:

  • TCFT Croydon 2018 performance at 6pm on Sunday 15th July at the Lansdowne Hotel
  • Poetic Insight: Thornton Heath Arts Week at 6pm in Thornton Heath Library
  • The Kickback: Let’s Talk About Goals at 6.30pm in Project B
  • Poetic Insight: Dreams & Goals at 7pm in Project B

The events are all going to be amazing and I’m excited for them, although I am more excited about the break that’s following.  I cannot expresses how much this time out is necessary, and I would recommend that you take time out for yourself to reflect and recuperate, because it is so important for your emotional and mental state.  Hopefully I will see some of you soon.

What thoughts do you have on youth violence?

On April 17th, the conversation at The Kickback was focused on youth violence.  As this topic was chosen by Jamal Khan, he led out on the night – “I don’t only want to find a solution… I feel this is a form of therapy for young people.”

With this in mind, Jamal expressed that he wanted to start with a clear out session, which was a chance for us to air out any thoughts we had on youth violence.  Let’s just say that the clear out session did not end, as the conversation flowed and questions were posed organically, so it didn’t make sense to stop it.

Jason was first to speak, asking how we can come up with solutions or a way to make things better without an example – “The only thing we can influence and change is us…We can make that change and be that change.”  Going a little deeper into this, he stated that “everyone is a philosopher and expert on everything in the world except themselves.”

Jamal felt that the Mayor of London is not doing enough, explicitly referencing the ‘London Needs You Alive’ campaign.  Still referring to those in politics, Andrae said that Theresa May is focusing on things in other countries, not what’s happening here, to which Jason responded, “Young people dying doesn’t make money.”

Jason then went on to make one of my favourite points of the night: “Politicians are like a dog, a wolf and a fox.  They may look different, but at the night they all howl.”  Ultimately, he believes that it is us who can really fix the issue of youth violence.

Hannah made an intriguing statement, which was, “People polarize adults and young people, but we’re all the same… Adulthood confuses me.”  She later said, “Young people are influenced by adults and adults have changed.”  However, Kim counteracted this point by saying, “Parenting has changed, parenting styles have changed, power given to parents have changed,” which many of us strongly agreed with.

When speaking about some of the causes, Jamal said, “I think a lot of it is senseless violence.  No one knows what is going on…  The reasons are different, so the solution needs to be different.”  This seemed to tie in with something Hannah raised earlier: “People do not show enough love to people anymore.”

Anil thought there is a lot of influence in music, to which some individuals slightly disagreed with or thought depended on the age of the listener.  However, Jamal stated that “regardless of what age you are, if you are constantly hearing this music, you become desensitized… The society we live in is violent.”

Jason made an interesting comment, saying, “Our society is transaction based… No one’s actually living life with purpose.”  This was backed up by Dwight, who expressed that a lot of young people don’t have purpose and don’t know who they are.

The conversation turned to ‘stop and search’, prison sentences and fear – “If you see a lot of your friends getting killed, you’re going to carry a knife,” Jamal said.  He later went on to say, “My issue is not with stop and search.  My issue is that young people are going to be fearing for their life… This is going to mess up people’s lives.  People are going to be arrested without ever having being arrested before.”

Dwight rebutted this point, asserting that “not everyone carries a knife because they’re scared,” as some people just want to carry a knife around.  Although Jamal did not dispute this, he believes that the increase of young people getting arrested will lead to more murders – “When you go to prison, you just meet more people who do crime.”

Kim caused us all to think as she spoke about a lot of young people backing their friends, going back to when she was growing up and would support her friends or family members in conflict.  After sharing a personal anecdote, she said, “We’re loyal… We’re wrong and we’re strong.  We’re raised with that mentality – don’t snitch.”

Rhianna thinks that it’s hard to find a solution when you don’t find the right cause.  She suggested that we approach young people, show them that we care and ask them why they carry knives.  She also believes that we need to give young people ways to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

This led onto further discussions about what we could do to address the situation.  Andrae thinks the gang leaders need to be targeted, resulting in people dispersing.  Jennifer expressed, “There needs to be a strong man.  There needs to be someone with backbone who can step up to the plate.”

Kim strongly asserted, “The work that needs to be done with young people won’t happen until there are youth centres and places to offload… Everything takes a process.”  This paved way for discussions about youth services, what’s happening in schools, how to reach young people and what we each think community is.

“For young people, respect is their currency… A lot of the knife crime and violence is ‘I’m going to do you before you do me’… There is no empathy,” Kim said.  However, Dwight also raised an important point: “There’s a reason behind it.  They don’t feel part of something.”

“It frightens me that the world is too far gone and we won’t be able to pull it back,” said Hannah.

To end, Jamal asked each of us to share what we were going to do to reach young people and try to prevent youth violence.  Responses included:

  • “Network with other organisations.” – Dwight
  • “I’m going to have more road maps and projects to work on.” – Anil
  • “Do more networking and signposting information.” – Kim
  • “I want to become a mentor.” – Rhianna
  • “Show more people in the gang life that there’s more out there.” – Glenn
  • “Do my best to develop YPI and reach young people where they are.” – Shaniqua (myself)
  • “I think the best thing I can do is be the change I want to see myself.” – Jamal

The Kickback returns May 15th when we’ll be talking ‘Mental Health’.  Join us in Project B from 6.30-8.30pm for more great conversation, snacks and new faces.

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 are your thoughts on purpose?

After an unintentional month away, I was excited to be back at my YP Insight events, expanding my mindset and hearing from great people.  On March 27th, The Kickback provided its usual intriguing and dynamic conversation, taking a crazy amount of twists and turns as we spoke on the topic of ‘Purpose’.

I’m not going to lie to you, I was not entirely comfortable leading out on this conversation, as I was unsure of where to start and it was not a topic I would have chosen, but it was the choice of one of the participants and I want to be fair when allocating topics each month.  Nevertheless, I was more than happy with the direction our conversation went in.

I began by asking, what are your initial thoughts when you hear purpose?  Rhianna immediately said, “Meaning to your life,” with Kayleigh adding, “The reason you do something.”

Kayleigh then went on to the interesting point of the need to have a purpose being entrenched in the world, which she thinks is unnecessary, as having a purpose can be “such a stressful thing” – “Young people are too young to try to figure out what they want to pursue… You have to choose the foundations of your career [at GCSE] when you’re still having to ask to go to the bathroom.”

Kris doesn’t really like the word purpose and the way it’s used, as he thinks that you stumble on it.  He also believes purpose implies that there’s one thing and you have to find it, to which Kayleigh responded, “That’s assuming you have to find it in the first place.”

When I posed the question, do you think you’ve figured out what your purpose is, Rhianna promptly blurted out a sound no.  On the other hand, I said yes, that my purpose was to do good and spread love.

Kris also said no, as “there’s no specific one thing in my head and I don’t know what I’ve been put on his earth to do.”  He also added another element to his response by saying, “I think you’ve got to have yourself together if you’re going to tackle really big things… You need to be well equipped to be able to deal with all these issues.”

This led on to a conversation about the part individuals play in addressing and attempting to solve the many issues and problems we face in the world.  Kris thinks “the definition of caring about a problem is wanting to see it solved,” however, Kayleigh raised the point that “everyone has different capabilities,” meaning that not every individual may be able to respond to a particular issue in the same way.  Some may only be able to protest and others may be able to have a greater influence over policy.

In response to this, I raised the question of whether we are getting too obsessed with marches and social media hash tags.  Kris gave an adamant yes, which he backed up by saying, “Voice truth when there’s a lie going on, but I don’t like [when people jump on the bandwagon]… I think the question is why do people do what they do?”  He also thinks that it would be better if people got involved in the issue they are protesting about.

However, Kayleigh believes that it depends on the media of it, as it is really easy to manipulate people.  Kris also backed up this point in a way when he said, “There are certain things that aren’t right, but they seem right.”

This led on to a discussion about equality, society and culture in various aspects of our lives that went in a number of different directions.  A compelling point made by Rhianna was about people generalising based on what they’ve heard or what they know, as it’s like society sets guidelines so people know what they are supposed to be doing.

Kayleigh also made one of the best statements of the night: “If you want everyone on the same playing field, you’ve got to level the playing field first.”

Speaking about culture and society also meant that we spoke a lot about visual differences, which of course included race.  Rhianna thinks that you gravitate towards your own race, depending on the environment, because that’s what you’re comfortable with.

Touching on the contrast between race and culture, Kayleigh stated, “Race isn’t a social construct, but culture is.”  Most of us agreed and Rhianna also added, “You can identify as the culture, but you can’t identify as the race.”

Eventually, we ended up speaking about the way we describe each other, which ultimately resulted in a final discussion on language.  Rhianna made a very thought-provoking comment when she said, “If we’re going to scrutinise language, then why do we speak at all?”  And Kris described language as a game we all play – “Words come out of purpose.”

The Kickback returns on April 17th when the focus will be ‘Youth Violence’.  Join us in Project B from 6.30-8.30pm for more great conversation, snacks and new faces.  Looking forward to seeing you then.

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.