Being able to feel comfortable and not judged is a feeling that I feel whenever I am with You Press. It’s a block of time that I look forward to, where we all can relate to each other and doing so it, to me is a safe place where I can share my experience and learn from others. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this project – it has opened many doors, allowed me to connect with people who are on the same journey as me but most of all has made to realise I’m not alone.
I would like to start off by saying a very personal thank you to all of those working behind the scenes at You Press. Their hard work has undoubtedly allowed my fellow colleagues and I to gain a great platform to express our life stories.
My journey started by meeting Farah with my life coach, Megan Buckner, in a café. To be honest, I never knew what to expect. I was just told about what he was trying to do in helping ex-offenders gain a voice through various creative platforms. As I am a great champion in equal opportunity I asked him one question:
‘Farah, what’s this going to do for my life?’More
He said hopefully it would give me a platform to express myself in a way that might help my development in life. What sold it was the fact that it was a project to help so called “ex-offenders”. That’s when I knew I would engage to the maximum.
Unfortunately I was suffering from pneumonia on my first week so it was a very slow start for me.
As the weeks progressed, We met people full of talent and promise, showing different sides to our personalities.
We were discussing A LOT of things to do with our personal lives. A lot of emotional and mental pain had us in a much-needed therapeutic recovery. In fact, it was essential to help us bond on a phenomenal level.
It allowed us to gain a better understanding of ourselves and showed us the magnitude of what could and eventually would be achieved.
People always said I was a good speaker so from week three onwards, I would go around and make an effort to get to know everybody individually. By asking about their passions as well as concerns helped me feel closer to all of them.
I decided to take the group ‘by the scruff of the neck’, that’s the exact phrase I told Farah. He smiled and said ‘I know you will, I can see it shaping already’. Indeed he was right.
As for my music performance, it was done with the help of three very talented music/spoken word artists. Over 2 sessions, I stayed with Asabi and told her a large part of my story. She captivated it phenomenally.
As somebody from a deprived London council estate, with a background in gang violence having been to prison six times in a row and was uneducated until 17, I can safely say that this has been one of the greatest experiences in my life.
Farah and Anis have supported me well and have invited me to various events. I was able to network with other influential people looking to be the next leaders in their communities and beyond.
They have provided support in helping me get employed and the issue of my homelessness application.
In short, they are helping me achieve life goals and set foundations that shall help me develop well.
My passion for writing is something they champion me to pursue and the platform they have set down has allowed me to use the network I have built to succeed.
I have been working with my You Press family since 2014 and it has been an incredible journey. When I met Farah and the You Press team I was living in a Hostel, this was because I was homeless at the time and my life was black and white. But when I got involved with You Press on their first project, my life became full of magic and colour. My imagination and hope became a true positive energy. I have no Idea how, but I did my best to improve my life! For example, I moved out of the Hostel to my own accommodation, I enrolled to a college and started to work part-time while improving my language skills. Through this journey, I have learned to reflect more deeply to know ‘who I am’ and what my future will look like, Insha’allaah (God-willing).More
What I will take away from my experience with You Press is love, care and my new skills to express myself more creatively. I am Yahye and I love people, animal and plants.
“Because of them I am one of them”
I remember when I was first asked to work on the “One voice, our story” project, I was wary for two reasons. First I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable telling a part of my life. Secondly I thought that the project, though a scheme at helping people, might not actually be fully prepared to help “so called” vulnerable people. I had a little negative voice in the back of my mind, which comes from years of false promises, telling me not to expect too much. How I was wrongMore
I realized that I was like a bird with clip wings and it was the process of partaking in the project “One voice, our story” that helped me restore my wings, who knew a bird could grow its wings back. The whole experience brought me alive and rekindled my fire for creativity and the appreciation of “conscious arts”. It gave me back my purpose and a strong desire to create with the intention to inspire.
During my six week internship at You Press, I was given the opportunity to showcase my creative marketing and writing skills through a variety of projects. You Press’ aim to tackle social issues by sharing the voices of young people inspired me to produce my own content and publish my views on both local and global problems our society faces. This content is released on a platform called ScribersHive, where anyone can post their thoughts and say how they feel. Because this platform is currently being remodelled, I aided in analysing the current site and providing feedback and suggestions for the future program.More
While forming ideas for my written articles and comics, Farah encouraged me to see the issues I was describing for myself. After the accident at Grenfell Tower, I was able to visit the area and observe the physical and emotional harm the fire inflicted on the victims, the families, and the entire community. Speaking to victims of various issues, such as traumatic experiences, homelessness, and mental illness, motivated me to speak out. I produced articles on the topics of smoking, eating, mental health, terrorism, and LGBT rights.
I also had the chance to meet with talented artists, web designers, and graphic designers who are all members of the ScribersHive team, working to produce the best platform possible. From these meetings, I learned much about the website creation process and the skills and steps necessary to form an interactive media sharing site. I improved my advertising skills by managing the company’s social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
Working in an office in an international environment taught me a lot about the work culture and differences between the United States and the United Kingdom, including terminology, mannerisms, and ways of life. I loved having to step out of my comfort zone and being forced to learn new habits in order to become immersed in the culture.
As the creative writing and editing intern at You Press, there is a tremendous amount of freedom and responsibility that comes with the position. The facets of this position included social media management, writing, editing, and mentorship. While apart of this internship the opportunity to take on a larger role, leading outside projects, and having the independence to be more innovative/creative while contributing to set projects added greatly to the experienced gained from this role. The main projects for this position included managing the ScribersHive platform, working with a freelance artist for ScribersHive comics, mentoring young writers, and contributing help to You Press projects.More
Another aspect of the internship which involved ScribersHive included working with an outsourced freelance artist to create comics for the SH platform. Taking an earlier article from the SH platform and then working with the artist to create a story concept for the comic artwork, involved continued communication. This aspect of the internship brought on a form of next level independence and leadership, creating the internship position into more than just the standard qualifications.
Mentoring young writers and editing the articles they wished to contribute to ScribersHive further developed the leadership and communication skills required in the internship position. Adapting editing skills to suit the article written, helped the young writers to learn more about their writing style and then gain the confidence to continue contributing articles to ScribersHive.
Finally, this internship position included assisting You Press in a variance of their other projects. Having the opportunity to dip into multiple facets of You Press made the internship experience, a truly fulfilling and development part of being an international intern.
Prior to finding out my internship through my study abroad program, I didn’t know what to expect. However, once I showed up at Paddington Arts for my interview, which lasted for 2 hours, I knew that I could expect to enjoy my seven weeks interning for the organization. Fortunately, I’ve had the best of both worlds during my time here in London. Through my program I had the opportunity to take classes during the first seven weeks, and do a great deal of traveling during the weekends. And in the last seven weeks I had the privilege of experiencing what it’s like to work in the city of London. During my time at Paddington Arts, I worked alongside the recently founded social enterprise, You Press.More
Throughout the weeks I assisted in brainstorming strategies to bring more attraction to You Press and their new writing platform, ScribersHive. Besides strategizing, I also had the opportunity to grow as a writer by writing numerous articles for ScribersHive. I was inspired to step outside of my comfort zone and to try out different styles of writing while also advance my creativity and come up with various topics to write about.
I was drawn to Paddington Arts and You Press because of their mission to support the youth to get their voice out and to voice their opinions whether it be through the arts, such as dancing, singing, acting, or whether it’s through writing because words have an immense amount of power. These organizations have inspired me to not only use my gift as a writer to better and positively influence others, but to also get out there and get involved in more organizations like them.
I’m beyond grateful to have worked with Paddington Arts and You Press. It’s always rewarding to contribute in two organizations that are focused on making a positive change in the world.
At the end of my work experience week I felt that I had learnt a lot from my time at You Press. When I started I wanted to work on how to get things done efficiently whilst maintaining the quality of my work. My work experience has taught me that I need a focused environment in order to achieve this goal.
I have also learnt about copyright issues and how to keep your work legal when it comes to photos.
When my started my work experience, I also wanted to be challenged and be pushed out of my comfort zone. I find it very difficult to share personal experiences and although I have uploaded poetry to my blog, I am yet to upload articles about my own experiences in life. However after writing my article about my experience with Islamophobia, with the intentions of uploading it, I feel that I have gained much confidence.More
I have also learnt how to use the website ‘mailchimp’ effectively and this has given me the inspiration to start my own monthly newsletter in connection with my blog where I talk about politics and social issues.
My work experience has also made me even more enthusiastic to pursue my dream to be a journalist. I have enjoyed my work experience immensely and felt very fulfilled whenever I finished an article.
In light of my work experience I am also more motivated to go back to Birmingham and encourage people to contribute to ScribersHive and engage with political and social issues.
I’m so grateful I got to experience the workplace in London, especially with Paddington Arts. Before arriving in London from Philadelphia, I was extremely nervous about multiple things, culture shock, leaving my family and friends behind, etc. But, Paddington Arts made me feel at home. I worked for You Press, the You Press office is held in the Digital News Room in Paddington Arts. When Farah (co-founder of You Press) first interviewed me, I could not have been more excited about getting started. When my first week finally came, Farah had been filming in Poland, so Sharon and Steve showed me around and told me everything I would need to know. They made me feel right at home!More
Now that my time in London and at Paddington Arts is over I feel very upset that I will probably not get to see this amazing staff again! I will definitely be keeping in touch, and when I eventually get back to London this will be one of my first visits! Thank you Paddington Arts & You Press for giving me the opportunity to express myself through video production and experience a side of London most Americans don’t get to see!