On Friday, I reflected on my tumultuous 2017, highlighting the highs and lows that made it the year it was. There was a lot to cover, which prevented me from being able to say thank you to people who played a big part in my year and were there for me through some of the struggles. Now it’s time for me to shine a light on some of the individuals.
Of course, the person who was always by my side was my other half – my sister, Rhianna, who means the world to me. She was excited for the good and supported during the bad, coming with me to the Croydon Civic Awards ceremony and talking to me through some of my depressive moments. Always there with the advice and encouragement, life would not be the same without her.
My parents continued to be there for me this year, being extremely helpful on the day of the TCFT Croydon Pilot, which would not have run the same without them. My dad was also my biggest champion this year, extremely proud of all that I achieved. Another big champion of mine was my cousin Georgina, whose motivation and words of encouragement I valued on a lot of occasions this year. And it was lovely to have my family around me as we mourned for the death of Uncle Dale – having the chance to meet so many of them and to see many of them after a long time was a great source of comfort.
Despite feelings of loneliness and disconnect with a number of my friends this year, I am thankful for their presence in my life. My best friend, Mells, has given me the gift of a gorgeous godson and I have enjoyed reconnecting with her. My Textiles girlies touched my heart with a surprise cake and card for my birthday in August. It meant a lot to have conversations with a number of faces I hadn’t seen in years at my church’s Youth Day. I’m also grateful to my girls, Si-Ann and Ashan, as well as my cousin Naomi, for being part of the TCFT Croydon Pilot.
I couldn’t talk about the people in my life without mentioning my YPI family and TCFT family. YPI would simply not exist without the individuals who are a part of it. However, I have to give a special mention to the constants, individuals who have made a great effort to help me out this year and those who have played a big part in some way: Alana, Dre, Hakeem, Stephen, Paul, Joan, Randy, Jamal, Liam, Pekz, Unorthodox, Mary, Becky, Esi, Jack, Sid, Jennelle, Ashan, Daniel, Aaron, Melvis and Shannette. Thank you for everything, and I’m sorry if I missed anyone out.
Then of course there are my beloved TCFT family. Tina is a mentor and one of the greatest supports I have ever had – I could not have put on TCFT Croydon without her. Nomes, my house sister and TCFT Croydon co-facilitator, who continued to bring me joy this year. Ells, my other house sister, who I love so much. The wonderful Rory, Amy, Geraldine, Robert and Cedoux, who were great helps during the TCFT Croydon planning and the day itself. Then you’ve got the beautiful Josh, Richard, Rachel, Jaffer and Rachael, who came down with her daughter, to be part of the day.
At this point, I need to side track and thank the other beautiful people who helped me with TCFT Croydon. Thank you to Humi, Daisy, Nikki, Liberty, Chimaine, Skye and Ian for facilitating workshops, taking photos and helping with tech, as well as all those at Turf Projects, Matthews Yard, Project B, Braithwaite Hall and the Croydon Council, who provided us with space. A huge thank you also goes out to the volunteers, who helped to make the day a success. And I also want to thank the lovely Mayor, Cllr Toni Letts, and her consort, Nick, for coming down for part of the day.
Back on track now to my TCFT family, who made a special impact on me in Sarteano this year. There are too many names to put down, but I just want to give some special mentions to individuals who made significant impacts and helped my meals to be extra special: Sandra, Annie, Carina, Silvia, Eilis, Roberto, Ismir, Irina, Marko, Francesco, Laura, Naomi M, Anja, Luka, Mina, Ricky, Modou, Lamin, Darren, Tisch, Rosie, Susan, Alister, Miranda and Margarida. Again, I could have named so many more, but the list would have been ridiculous.
I couldn’t write this without mentioning the beauties I have met at Queens Garden and the soup kitchen at my church. They continuously make me smile and want to be better – I don’t think they realise the impact they have had on my life. Special mention goes to my boy James, Cisco, Richard, Patrick, Graham, Mark, Miriam, Gamma, Santiago, Gabriel, Marius, Marek and Petr. Again, there is likely to be more, but there are too many names I could mention.
I have to give a very special shout out to Jes, the amazing lady who trained me and helped my crowdfunding campaign to be a success, as well as the wonderful Kay, who approached me to write articles for the Stories of Success magazine, one of my favourite tasks of 2017. I’m thankful to Paul and Paula for making me an ambassador for Croydon’s London Borough of Culture bid, as well as for Paula’s brilliant show of support for TCFT Croydon. A huge thank you also has to be said to Neil, Katie, John and Tina, for nominating me for the Young Achiever of the Year award – I literally would not have won without you.
Thank you to the ridiculously talented Anthony Anaxagorou, Dan Tsu and Deanna Rodger for teaching me on the Political Poetry course at the Roundhouse, and I’m also thankful for the talented individuals who took the course with me. Thank you to Donna for inviting me to speak at Another Night of Sisterhood, as well as encouraging me and believing in what I do. And thank you to everyone who has given me the opportunity to be paid for doing what I love or helped me out with work opportunities.
But most of all, I have to thank God, the love of my life, who has blessed me with these beautiful people. I love every single one of you.