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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Let’s Talk About Goals

It was all about goals at The Kickback on July 24th, as we thought about the goals we had and goals we could aspire to after hearing from positive, inspiring young people.

To start the conversation, I asked what a goal is.  Mhairi made us all laugh with her witty response: “Where you aim in football.”  Stefon then said that it was a target or aspiration, Renee described it as a destination type thing and Daisy said that it was a next step.

I then posed the question: do you set goals?  Humi’s response was, “I set goals, but I divide them up…  There are short-term goals and long-term goals… I think it’s important to distinguish between the two. ”

Stefon believes that it’s important to have a plan, using the quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” to back up his point.  Jamie told us that he has the end destination and the bus stops to get there, while Daisy said that she has deadlines rather than goals, as she finds it difficult to hold herself accountable.

When I asked the questions of whether it is important to have leeway when working towards your goals, Renee made a really great point by saying, “We shouldn’t feel like failures for not meeting certain standards and work ethics.”

Before hearing from our speakers, I asked if anyone wanted to share their goals.  Stefon wants to make a living from his passion within the next two years – “If you do what makes you happy, the money will come.”  Etan’s goal was one I especially loved: “To prove people wrong in general.”

Our first speaker of the night was Renee, who founded the organisation Croydon Community Leaders (CCL).  Their values are community empowerment, community engagement and community action.  “We wanted to put people doing great things in Croydon on a platform,” said Renee.

CCL supports charities and non-profits, puts on events and organises campaigns, and also helps residents to engage in community matters – “We wanted to give back to the community,” Renee told us.

After asking if any of us had experiences with the police – the experiences shared were all negative – Renee told us about a new outreach programme that CCL were starting to enable members of the community to get involved and support young people, which is about getting trained in stop and search.  As well as training community individuals, they would give police cultural communication training.

During the conversation, Stefon raised the point, “You touched on the relationship between black boys and police, but this is a long-term relationship between black boys and the system… How can we change the mentality of young black boys, as it’s hard for us to change the system?”

Humi also said, “As young people, and also as people, we’re not taught to communicate in the right way.”  This was part of a wider and interesting conversation about the police, stop and search, and communication.

Talk then moved on to education and young black people being kicked out of schools.  Jane dropped some gems on us, including, “I know how hard it is for parents to constantly be fighting.  We know the goals we have for our children, but the system and institution is built to fail us… Academies that are supposed to nourish them are now failing them, because it’s a business.

“If a system wants to find fault, it will find fault, and one of the biggest faults is the colour of our skin.”

Our next speakers were Humi and Daisy, two of the founding members of What You Saying, a poetry night that takes place on the second Tuesday of each month in Croydon.  “Our tag line is raw, honest and inclusive,” said Daisy.  She explained that they give a safe space for artists and writers to share their work, and they also have feature artists to get more of their work out there.

Humi told us that a major reason they set up the night was because they found most poetry nights they went to were really white and middle class, or the complete opposite, and they wanted to get different people in the same space, otherwise there isn’t a way to learn from each other.

They also create opportunities for young people experiencing homelessness, as a way of trying to lift their community – “You only rise by lifting others,” Humi said.  She informed us that about 90% of the young people she worked with who were experiencing homelessness were involved with crime, as a lot of them didn’t know anything else.

Humi told us that she is trying to encourage young people to express themselves in healthy ways, as some of them aren’t taught that by parents.  She also made the point that society should be encouraging more young people to channel what they do into something else in a more creative way.

Etan made us all think by saying, “I’ve been told that I have potential, but… I want to hear that I have the potential and can do something else.”

Humi went on to share her experience of going into youth work, without a degree and any qualifications in youth work.  “When you think about goals, you need to think about it on your own terms,” she stated.

Our final speaker of the night was Si-Ann (who also took the photos for us), a creative director and producer, who founded the creative agency, Evacreate.  “Evacreate is all about evacuating your surroundings to create something new,” Si-Ann explained.

Si-Ann took us on a quick journey of her experience, giving us five tips along the way.  Tip 1 was to use who is around you, as she first decided to find people who would help her make Evacreate happen, which got her interested on the impact on people’s mental health.

When working and studying at university, she wondered how she would be able to develop Evacreate, so Tip 2 was: Take inspiration from everything and learn from everything.  “Everywhere you go, there is opportunity to learn and create something,” Si-Ann said.

Tip 3 was: Do milestones really matter?  It’s important to know your why.  When Si-Ann finished uni, she realised she hadn’t built the brand to where she wanted it to, and although there was so much she wanted to do, there were little things she could do.  This led on to Tip 4: Baby steps are still walking.

When Si-Ann and here friend talked about not doing a shoot for a while, they both realised they had gone through mental health struggles, so they decided to do a shoot on mental health among creatives.  They pitched it to a number of magazines, and it was eventually picked up by Afropunk, which was the one they really wanted it to be featured in.

Tip 5 was: Remember it’s not a sprint and endure the marathon.  “Take your time and don’t fear failure… It’s your own path and you need to take your time with it, and do what’s best for you,” Si-Ann stressed to us.  “If you don’t fear failure, when you accomplish something, you’ll feel all the better for it.”

I’m going to end with a great point made by Humi: “When we’re talking about goals, we didn’t really talk about when you stop focusing on your goal…  You can work yourself up to the top and then have a break down… Goals are important, but your happiness is more important.”

With that being said, I am taking some time out to reflect, heal and take care of my mental health, so The Kickback will return in October.

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