A new platform is giving young people in Croydon the opportunity to express themselves through writing, poetry and conversation.
The youth-led platform Young People Insight says that it empowers the voices of young people allowing them to speak about topics that are important to them and share their stories to inspire others.
Founded two years ago by Shaniqua Benjamin, 26, a freelance writer, poet and workshop facilitator, it runs social events, poetry nights and a blog to which young people can contribute.
Poetic Insight takes place on the final Tuesday of every month, where young people with a creative outlet can make their voices heard in a safe and loving environment.
Poets and spoken word artists of all abilities are welcomed to the stage where they are able to develop their confidence and communication skills, as well as build self-esteem and respect for each other.
Benjamin says she wanted to give young people a platform to make their voices feel heard in a society that often ignores them or makes them feel as if they do not matter.
“I wanted to create a comfortable, safe loving community for young people to express themselves so they feel as lonely or out of place as I felt”.
After dropping out of university in 2013, Benjamin embraced her love for writing and began her first blog. She wrote pages for a range of media outlets and was named Young Achiever of the Year at the Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards, 2017.
She says poetry and writing helped her express herself in a healthy way following her struggles with self-harm. “It is such an amazing, therapeutic way of expression, whether you want to share it or not. You can get out feelings from within and even discover feelings you may not know you had.”
“I believe that young people have a lot more to offer to their communities and society, but they are not given the opportunity or believe in themselves and that needs to change.
“By young people, the age range I work with is 16-26, which I feel is a really awkward age, where you’re trying to find your way and navigate adulthood. Young People Insight is that bridge to make the transition a little easier and learn about those things school didn’t teach us.”
She told ELL about the first time she came to one of these events: “It was the first poetry event I’d been to in my life and was it was really welcoming. Poetic Insight had a complete family feel so I started coming to more and more events.
“I eventually performed and had the support of the people I had met which was really lovely. It really helped me blossom and gain confidence.”
They also offer The Kickback, which takes place on the third Tuesday of every month. It gives the younger generation the opportunity to have conversations about topics that are important to them, ranging from mental health to online dating and freedom of speech.
Individuals are also encouraged to contribute to the blog where they can write or submit videos about their thoughts on a particular news story or review of an event.
To find more information about Young People’s Insight you can click here